A new look at total muscular fitness and generating power, escaping injury
and rising above your fitness and training plateau.
Bike racers have used weight training in the gym as an
off-season supplement for years now, with questionable results. The exercises
generally recommended help in increasing power and muscular strength, but at a
large cost (muscular imbalances), and at an even greater risk (injury.)
By focusing on only the large primary muscles and disregarding the smaller
muscles that aid in efficient movement, weightlifting can contribute to large
muscular imbalances and greatly increase the risk of injury.
During the middle of the season the body often reaches a
plateau in which gains are minimal. There comes a point where logging more
miles, adding intensity, and/or doing intervals will not make significant or
noticeable improvements in the rider's performance. Adding traditional weight
training (even with light weights) will only add drag to the development of his
or her racing skills.
So what happens when the rider who has been working so hard since October
logging base miles, watching their diet, going to bed early, going to the weight
room, doing interval training, attending ridiculously hard group rides, and
generally being as (or more!) dedicated to the sport of bike racing than the
average U.S. professional (that's you, captain) is still languishing in the
middle of the Cat. III field unable to get in a break, win the field sprint, or
make any conceivable mark at all on the race?
What do you do as a coach? Why are they still racing their
bikes? Are they really having fun? Are they even really racing their bikes to
their full capacity?
Most bike racing enthusiasts (bike racers, as they call
themselves) are not complete athletes. We can address the imbalances existing
in their bodies immediately. The difference between two riders is not simply
how much work the quadriceps, for example, can do, but how efficiently it does
That efficiency can be traced to the support muscles (or micro-muscles) in the
hips, spine, neck, and limbs; these muscles support and stabilize the larger
muscle masses in doing work in the full range of motion, not often worked in the
typical weight lifting program. Some people may have a predisposition towards
this muscle equilibrium, but in most cases cyclists do not. An athlete coming
from another sport, for instance, already has some of the tools taught to him or
her during the training for their applicable sport.
FitUP has a training program to place the
cyclist in an unbalanced environment (like the bike) to expose the weaknesses
not addressed by any existing program.
Our program is based on three principles: 1) bare feet, 2) unstable
environments, and 3) light weights. The exercises are done barefoot to
strengthen the many muscles of the toes and feet commonly neglected in cycling.
The cycling shoe is, by design, one of the most effective braces ever invented.
It restricts the movement of the foot to add to the efficiency of the repetitive
motion of pedaling. But always training in these special shoes can lead to key
imbalances, leading to injuries, which are addressed by adding even more braces
(custom foot beds, orthotics, and even custom shoes) which lead to even more
imbalances later on.
Our only mechanical connection to the bicycle becomes our weakest link! What
cyclist can't wait to get their shoes off after a really hard fast crit or road
race? What if there was training to address these imbalances/injuries? There
In the program utilized by FitUP, the less stable/familiar
the environment, the more the micro-muscles are challenged to provide aid and
assistance to the primary muscles. We use a large Swiss training ball, an
adjustable angle board, wobble boards/balance disks, and plastic pipes to
challenge the user's nervous system, promoting growth and development of all
muscle groups, large and small, primary and support.
The light weights employed by the FitUP trainers are
probably the heaviest 4, 6, and 10 lbs. an athlete ever lifted. Why? Because
of the unstable nature of the exercises, the multi-planar motion of the
exercises, and the dynamic challenge of both accelerating and decelerating the
weights, all while relying on the balance and coordination of the individual.
The exercises of the program have the athlete standing on
one foot on the angle board, teetering on two black plastic pipes, balancing on
both wobble boards, lying face-down on the ball, lying on the ground with their
heels on the ball, lying with their spine curved over the top of the ball, and
even upside-down with their hands on the ground and their knees on the ball.
Now add the special spherical weights with handles (which the athlete can even
use on his or her foot) and even the most accomplished pro-level athlete is
fully challenged. It's hard…Very hard. But fun...like bike racing.
Endurance, quickness, strength, reaction time, confidence,
power, mental stamina, agility, flexibility; these are the key words every coach
would like to say they augmented in each of their clients.
We can help. We have shown our techniques to cycling coaches who have, in turn,
referred their clients to us. We have made tremendous progress with even the
most plateau’ed clients.
Coaches, riders, and even "normal" people are encouraged to
call FitUP for a free demonstration of the exercises, as well as an in-depth
discussion of its merits. Their rates are reasonable, and group rates are
An introduction to contributors Aaron Musicant and Ken
Aaron Musicant, 21, was an accomplished junior cyclist, medaling
at the junior national cycling championships in 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002, and
a two-time winner of the California Junior State Criterium Championships.
At 18 he laid the bike to rest and picked up his books to begin his studies at
the University Of California, Berkeley. He has been studying fitness and
exercise physiology, and is about to transfer to UCLA to further studies in
Aaron is a fitness trainer with extensive personal and professional experience
in the weight room. Initially skeptical about the FitUP program, he decided to
gradually work it into his exercise regimen; he has since incorporated it as
the main component of the workout routine for himself and the people he trains.
Ken Toman, 36, has been racing bicycles for
12 years, and turned professional in 2002 as a teammate to Ryan Barrett (Daily
Peloton contributor) on the Schroeder Iron team.
In 2003, they were teammates again on Monex.
Since then, he has been on the L.A. based professional-level team Helen's
Cycles/RPM since 2004 with Mike Tillman, Harm Jansen, Jason Van Marle and other
ex-professionals. He has extensive experience in training and competing in many
sports, and was on the receiving end of rehabilitation for two years due to a
collision with a car while training in 1996. Since the injury, he has spent all
his energies towards achieving his athletic goals, and would now like to help
others do the same.
"Bring It!!!" Ryan Barrett