Cycling Base Training Pathway - Fast Talk Laboratories

A Cyclist’s Guide to the Weight Room

Cyclists can get a little lost in the weight room. Strength expert Jess Elliott helps us understand the fundamentals of strength workouts and how cyclists will benefit from time spent in the gym.

Athlete putting a collar on a weighted barbell
Photo: Pexels/Victor Freitas

Cyclists can get a little lost in the weight room.

We are joined by Jess Elliott, who is the sports performance coach and biomechanist at the University of Colorado Sports Medicine and Performance Center. She helps us understand the fundamentals of strength workouts in the weight room: what to do, how to do it, and how many times to lift those big hunks of iron.

Plus, we speak with pro rider Brent Bookwalter (BMC) about how he fits weight lifting into his busy travel schedule.

Episode Transcript

Trevor Connor  00:00

Welcome to Fast Talk developer news podcast. Everything you need to know to ride like a pro.

Chris Case  00:10

Hey, Trevor, you going riding today?

Trevor Connor  00:12

I think I am. I think you and I are heading out to do some climbs today.

Chris Case  00:16

That’s true. We might be doing some KLM hunting on Strava

Trevor Connor  00:20

we’ll see this we’re going with Sepp Kuss, I think he might be getting some k ohms. We’re gonna be a little behind.

Chris Case  00:26

Maybe? Well, it’s still good to put all our rides up on Strava health IQ is a life insurance company that specializes in healthy, active people like cyclists and runners, they’re able to give us favorable rates for life insurance. And they have a special website just for us Fast Talk listeners, www dot health slash Fast Talk where listeners of the show can go to get a free quote. While you’re there, submit race results screengrabs of your Strava or mapmyrun account, or other proof that you are indeed a regular cyclist, and you’ll get a better quote.

Trevor Connor  01:10

Welcome back, dear listeners to another episode of Fast Talk. This is coach Connor and hopefully by now you’ve gotten to know my voice. But this is a bit of a special episode of Fast Talk today I am joined by my new co host. I’m fortunate to have managing editor Chris case with us who has been with the magazine for a while he but he has a science background. So we might be getting a little bit geeky here. Chris, your background? You’ve studied neuroscience, correct?

Chris Case  01:39

I did. Yes.

Trevor Connor  01:41

Chris is also painfully slow on a bike and I’m waiting for him on every single climb that we ever do. But we don’t hold that against him because he’s a writer, not a cyclist.

Chris Case  01:51

Very nice. Thank you, Trevor.

Trevor Connor  01:53

Actually, Chris, he’s been racing cross around here and he goes to the races. His warm up is sitting there holding his daughter while his wife races. Then with no warm up he jumps in and what a couple weeks ago you won the 40 plus race. So then the next day, you jumped into the category one to race and then you won that as well and basically made all of us look.

Chris Case  02:18

I would definitely was not intending to make anyone look bad. That is that is true, though. I did that. Yeah, I love cyclocross and climbing.

Trevor Connor  02:29

Yeah, Chris. Actually. I don’t like climbing with him. And we’re about to do it later today.

Chris Case  02:37

I love climbing with you, Trevor. It’s so much fun. Yes,

Trevor Connor  02:39

I can tell. Alright, so Chris, what are we talking about today?

Chris Case  02:44

Well, today we’re talking about weight room training. And kind of following up on an episode that we did, or that you did with with Kaylee, I think it was episode six. This takes us a step forward and talks specifically about what to do in the weight room when to do it. Those sorts of things. And we’ve got a great guest today. Her name is Jess Elliot. Hey, Jess.

Jess Elliott  03:08

Hi. Thanks for having me.

Chris Case  03:10

Jess is the sports performance coach and bio mechanist from the University of Colorado sports medicine and Performance Center, right here in Boulder, Colorado.

Trevor Connor  03:21

So let’s give you the the Five Minute Summary in that past podcast because we did get called out at the end of that one, we said we would do a podcast in the future talking about how to weight lift and we got a friendly email saying hey, you promise us whereas so so here it is. In that podcast, we really address the question should cyclists lift weights and like say if you want to hear the whole explanation and all the research behind it, go back and listen to that. But the five minutes summary is 10 years ago. The research said no cyclist shouldn’t lift weights but they were actually using the wrong metrics. They were really trying to see if you weight lift, do you see any sort of improvement and vo two max which you don’t want that kind of said don’t weight lift? It was the wrong metric to look at. What you see when you weight lift is what’s called an improvement in and fraction of vo two max meaning if you ride at a given wattage, you are going to be using or at a lower percentage of your vo to max and if you don’t weight lift. So when they looked at the fraction of vo two Max, all of a sudden you did see improvements in from weightlifting. The reason is you’re essentially making your muscle fibers stronger, particularly the slow twitch muscle fibers. So if you are out let’s say riding at 200 watts, you can use less muscle fibers to produce the same power. More importantly at those kind of mid wattage is that you re sat where if you didn’t wait trade, you might have to recruit some of your fast twitch muscle fibers which fatigue, you could generate that low or steady race intensity, obviously entirely with slow twitch muscle fibers which don’t generally fatigue. So it means that you can stay fresher through the race and be stronger at the end. And there is a ton of evidence that’s come out in recent years, showing that that’s what weightlifting does for you. So now, really, the research is saying cyclists need to be in the weight room lifting weights. And that was the gist of the podcast.

Chris Case  05:30

So it’s it’s been clear since Episode Six, that weight training is an essential part of any cyclists training regimen. We brought Jess in because she’s an expert on teaching people how to do it best. So Jess, could you give us a sense of your background in this in this particular realm?

Jess Elliott  05:48

Sure. So actually, I’m very new to the endurance world of strength and conditioning, my personal background. So I’ve coached kind of the full gamut from high school level athletes, division one collegiate athletes, all the way up to the professional levels, and then had a stint working with the fire department more on the tactical side. So I’ve been very privileged to kind of see a little bit of everything and kind of implement a lot of these different weight training methods across a wide spectrum of athletes. So I’m just really happy to share with you what knowledge I have today and excited to get started.

Trevor Connor  06:19

So anyway, athletes who are listening, I give you weight plans, and I really pretend I know what I’m doing with strength and conditioning. But now we have an expert here who truly does know how to put together a great way plan. So we’re excited to have you have you join us.

Jess Elliott  06:35

Thank you so much.

Chris Case  06:36

Like a lot of things stryver It seems like weight training. There’s a more than one way to to skin a cat. There’s people that think heavy weights are the answer. There’s people that think explosive weights are the answer. people that think Low, low weight, high repetition, workouts are the are the answer to everything, maybe give us a sense of the the different philosophies and approaches that are out there.

Trevor Connor  07:03

Well says in the cycling world, if you buy a book on cycling training, you’re generally going to see four different styles and each person breaks up differently. But this is most commonly what I see with first one being what they call an adaptation routine, which is mostly bodyweight, and you work the whole body and is basically just getting your body fit and imbalance again, before you get into the real heavy routines, then you have what’s called a hypertrophy or perked up routine, which is focused on building muscle mass, that is strength or team where you left very heavy late weights for only a couple reps. That much bigger neuromuscular load and is supposed to build strength as the name implies. Then finally, there’s what’s called a power routine, which is lighter weights lifted very explosively. But yes, I mean, this is your area of expertise. So how do you see this? How do you see these different styles? And how would you break it up? And what’s your sort of recommendations?

Jess Elliott  08:03

Yeah, absolutely. Um, just for me, as a strength and conditioning coach, I’m a really big advocate more of conjugate style training, where I don’t necessarily train people in blocks, you know, in the cycling community, you talk about how you use the term adaptation, then transitioning more into like a hypertrophy block into strength and then into power. And, you know, that’s definitely something that’s still very prevalent in the strength training books. But I think that’s kind of where we start going from textbook knowledge to real world world applicability. And I think that’s something that even as a young coach, you know, you come into the ceiling, you’re like, Oh, wait, but the textbook said this, and this is what my teacher taught me. And then you just see that, it’s one way, and then you get out into this coaching world. And these coaches, you know, slap you with this list of 20 different books that they want you to read. And then you multiply that with however many coaches you work for over the years. And it just builds this repertoire of knowledge that you never knew existed. And so the approach that I take, I think there’s a place to do and kind of more of a linear progressive period periodized trends like what you’re talking about. And I usually see that more with younger athletes, because I’m just trying to get them to move, I don’t necessarily need them to be super explosive. On the learning spectrum, I’m just trying to teach them kinesthetic awareness, better movement control, body control, etc. Whereas, you know, once you start getting into the higher levels, I really feel like the conjugate system, it alternates. So you’re never really working just one thing at a given time. You’re not just training hypertrophy, you’re not just training strength or power, you’re training multiple variables at a given time. And so the benefit to that is that you’re constantly maintaining to some degree because if you train for strength, your power is going to fall to the wayside. And so then, by implementing more of a conjugate system, you’re not sacrificing one for another. So

Trevor Connor  09:50

could you give us a bit of a definition of what you mean by conjugate system or sure so

Jess Elliott  09:54

yeah, I mean, essentially the conjugate system, it’s, you’re not isolating you don’t do like Misa cycle are four week block training strictly hypertrophy, where all you’re doing is maybe the higher volume higher repetition sets to try to increase that muscle mass, instead, you’re going to within a given weekly cycle, you’re going to have maybe some more more of a strength day, you’re going to have more of like a maximal effort day, which is going to be that strength. And then you might have more of a dynamic effort days, something that’s a little bit more explosive. And then you might have a repetition effort day, something where you’re actually getting more repetitions in. So it’s changing how the body is taxed over the course of the week. You also see this style integrate a lot with undulating periodization. So instead of sticking with given volumes, for an entire four week block, so like three by 10 sets, you don’t just do three by 10, for the entire four weeks, you might do three by 10. On one day, you might do three by five on another day. And then you might do three by 12 on another day. And that’s just using sets of threes. More commonly, you see, you know, the sets and the repetitions changing significantly, but by changing the volume and intensity, and the overall load that you’re placing on the body, within a week, so you have a modern day, you have a light day, and then you have a heavy day, it’s cycles your body to keep you fresher. So the same way that we kind of cycle every four weeks where we’ll go maybe three weeks up one week down to D load. It D loads your body within the course of a week, and kind of that term undulating periodization.

Trevor Connor  11:24

So a little let’s, let’s, I’m interested in your taking this because I will tell you what my athletes, yeah, I have have multiple I don’t just have strength versus explosive. But I, you know, cycling really isn’t a strength sport, you see a lot of atrophy and cyclists? Sure.

Jess Elliott  11:43

Well, I think I’m kind of a stickler when it comes to language, and really in strength and conditioning it, I think a lot of people don’t really understand the physics that actually go behind strength and conditioning training. And so when we’re looking at some of these terms, they actually have a very scientific group behind them. So when we think about power, power is actually the time rate of performing work. So really, what we’re trying to do is how can we get you to perform more work in less time. That’s what power essentially boils down to. And so strength, I feel like strength has kind of become an over utilized term, where the meaning starts to get lost, we just think Yeah, okay, it’s really heavy weights. But we’re not really seeing the purpose behind strength of power training. So I’m going to kind of offer a maybe some additional terms to throw into the mix. So really, when I think of strength, I think of maximal force production. So it’s the maximum amount of force that can be exerted against an object. Another term that you know, we use a lot is going to be velocity. And so the thing with force and velocity is that they actually have an inverse relationship to one another. A lot of coaches, especially in like team sports, you’ll see these head coaches that are focused on weight on the bar, they want you to lift heavier weights to generate more force, because that seems to be the goal. But what they don’t realize is that by generating more force, you’re going to be decreasing the velocity because you can lift heavy weights, but you’re not going to do it quickly. That’s kind of where that lighter explosive training comes in. And so it’s always a balance, you know, is it actually a force issue? Or is it maybe a power issue? And when I’m talking about power and the time rate of performing work, it’s more that rate of force development? So not maximal force, but how quickly can you actually generate it.

Trevor Connor  13:25

So let’s give a quick visual to the listeners, I do this with my athletes a lot. It’s hard to understand this. And a great visual is think about doing a bicep curl. So if you, for example, pick up 20 pounds, and curl it three times in 10 seconds, you’re currently fairly rapidly, you’re not putting out a ton of force, that let’s say you pick up a 40 pound weight, so twice as heavy, but you’re struggling to get that up and you only lift it once. In that 10 seconds, you’ve generated a lot more force, you’re showing a lot of strength be able to curl 40 pounds, but you’ve actually put out less power because you’ve lifted less weight in the same length of time. So power has that that time component of it’s how much work Have you done in a given time. And if you curl 20 pounds three times in 10 seconds versus 40 pounds once in 10 seconds, you actually put out more power with the 20 pound weight. Yeah, I

Jess Elliott  14:25

think that’s a great visual. And just to kind of give you an example from my coaching days, I’ve had to break this out for a younger athlete who is a high school football and lacrosse player and then also for one of my collegiate volleyball athletes. So once again, you get these coaches that are concerned about weight on the bar, they’re doing their one rep max testing and they’re like, oh, wait a minute. This athletes one rep max has stayed the same from this year to last year. Well, that’s not progress. But interestingly enough, her vertical jump increased by two inches. And so for me the minute I started working with the team, Okay, wait on the bar. It’s a factor. It’s not the only factor and so one of the things I noticed Is that their bar speed, the speed of movement, the rate of force development was incredibly slow. And so really, we needed to scale things back, drop down the weights, teach them to generate force more rapidly, and then start adding more weight on to the bar. And so I actually broke it down. Because even the athlete was a little bit baffled, like, well, how did I ever get better, like why she was frustrated that her numbers weren’t better, as far as numbers weight on the bar. And so what was interesting is I actually broke it up using all of the physics equations, looking at bar speed, etc. And how by lifting a given weight the same exact way, just a fraction faster, the power increases exponentially. So with this younger High School athlete who’s the lacrosse and football player, I actually showed him, okay, let’s say your squat right now is 250 pounds, I could double the amount of weight on the bar, or I could decrease the amount of time by one second, it takes you to lift it, and by decreasing the time that he lifted his power output skyrocketed, weight on the bar, minimal gains in power.

Trevor Connor  16:03

So this is where we were having a bit of an argument beforehand.



Trevor Connor  16:07

Yeah, so I actually mean, when I was giving weight plans to my athletes, I was really focused on that that velocity. So in the research, they just really break it down into what they call heavy weight lifting, which is where it’s, you’re lifting 75% or more of your one repetition max for between four and 10 reps, versus what they call explosive weight lifting, which is a lighter weight, maybe 60%, or even less than 60% of your max weight, and you’re lifting it as rapidly as possible. And so I gave my athletes a lot of explosive work. And I’m actually looking right now at this 2014 review by fairly famous a researcher named Ron stad. And when they reviewed the literature on strength training, this is looking at strength training and cyclists. They said yes, strength training improves performance in cyclists, but only with heavy weight lifting, not explosive weightlifting, which that really surprised me. But I’ve seen several studies that say the same thing that you need to use heavy weightlifting, where you have multiple leg exercises, and you really push yourself. And when you just do the explosive work, no improvement in your cycling performance. And I will you and I talked about this, you’re like, no, this is here’s the thing, again, you have so much real world experience with athletes. So

Jess Elliott  17:29

yeah, you know, and the tricky thing was studies is that I think I did a lot of research in grad school. And I think the problem behind it is that it has to really transfer to the field, and it needs to be applicable and a lot of research, you know, it’s one thing to design these workout programs in a laboratory setting. And to kind of see, okay, well, what effects does this have on training, but I think what a lot of people don’t consider is that there are so many different methods to training. So I mean, when we talk about strength or power training, the research almost implies that there are only two different protocols for it. But as a strength and conditioning coach, just to add some more terms to kind of the repertoire here, we have a lot of different training methods, you know, you’ll hear conjugate periodization, linear periodization, nonlinear undulating, periodization, block periodization. And then there’s all of these different methods for implementing it. You know, you have the tier system by giocare tri phasic, training by Cal Dietz, Westside barbell by Louis Simmons, French contrast training, there’s all these different styles of training. And they, you know, they all have a great place for different athletes, different age levels, abilities, different sports. And so it’s kind of like, Alright, well, this research study wants to narrow it down to Okay, you can either train for strength, or you can train for power. Most athletes don’t train for one versus another. And so yeah, if you’re going to train for only one, you know, it’s great to increase strength and force production. But what kind of strength training were they doing? What kind of power training were they doing? What were the movements? Everything that we do really kind of boils down to what we call the said principle, and it stands for specific adaptations to impose demands. And so when you talk about strength training, we can’t really just use it is this umbrella term? It’s, well, what were the specific exercises? What was the load? What was the volume that was placed on the bodies? What intensities were they working at? How is it organized in a given week? Was it the same as the power training? What was the frequency? How did that mix in with their cycling training? And so there’s so many other variables and so it’s kind of frustrating with studies like that is it oversimplifies things and then I think people often get the wrong picture. They get an incorrect message because they only see a very small fraction of what goes into strength and conditioning.

Trevor Connor  19:44

And all I have to say is Kersey thought I had too many technical terms.

Chris Case  19:49

I could you just rattle those off again. Oh, man, where

Jess Elliott  19:52

should I start? Do

Trevor Connor  19:53

you really want them in reverse order then alphabetical.

Jess Elliott  19:56

Skipping every other word. Yes.

Trevor Connor  20:00

With this approach where you have a lighter day, a heavier day, especially if you’re lifting all year, there is a certain point where they’re gonna get kind of tired of the routine, how do you change it up to keep it fresh, keep it interesting over the course of the season. And also, do you have any sort of adjustment were in December in January, you don’t need to be fast or strong on the bike. So those are the times when I go, let’s do the really hard work in the weight room. Because if your legs are feeling it, you get on the bike, we’re just doing a base metal ride the next day anyway, once you get into March, April, May, they’re racing, and that’s where they can’t afford to be suffering from what they did in the weight room. So I tend to ease off and make it a little easier in the weight room and maybe do more explosive work so that they can still raise strong. How would you approach all this because it sounds like I’m my approach is kind of more old school.

Jess Elliott  20:51

Sure. Even though you’re not, you know, like, for me, if I’m implementing more of like a conjugate style system. Even though I’m kind of maintaining some variables at all, any time, I still am maybe favoring one versus another. So like you said, offseason development time, if it is somebody who’s looking to put on mass having a little bit more of a tendency towards hypertrophy training is okay. That doesn’t mean that I’m not going to maintain some strength training or power training. But that’s definitely gonna be a little bit more of a weighted focus, same thing on the strength vector as well. So from my standpoint, it’s just kind of correcting people from thinking, Oh, I need to just focus on this for this block. Now, with Olympic level athletes, you will see a lot of block training like that. But they’re very short blocks. Because if you do a block style, block style training for too long, like I said, you train one variable and something else is going to fall by the wayside. But for seasons, there are definitely variables that you want to focus more on during the offseason, as you start getting more towards your competitive season, things are going to become more sport specific, you’re going to start favoring maybe a little bit more of that rate of force development, that power explosive training. As far as the How do I keep things fresh? There’s a lot of different approaches, which like I said, that’s my answer. For most things, it seems like these days, but you know, on the powerlifting side of things, you’ll get athletes who they do not do the same workouts at all, in a given year, they might train given movement patterns. So okay, on one day, I know I’m going to do a squat. The next day, I know I’m going to do some type of pressing movement, upper body press. And then on this other day, I’m going to do a deadlift of some variety. But within that they have so many different variations, that they never choose the same exact one. And the reason for that is and I there’s a time and a place for it for someone that’s a new lifter, I wouldn’t recommend it. This is for someone, you know, power lifters have lots of experience lifting, you want to train your body to generate force in all different positions. But also you want your body to be resilient to force in all different directions. Because that’s what’s going to keep our body safe, and kind of protect us from breaking down or from getting injured. And so it’s really great to, to vary your training on a regular basis. For most athletes, for example, at the collegiate level, every four weeks about every cycle, give or take three to four weeks, I’ll change up the exercises, I might keep a similar structure where we’re working on similar things, but I change up the exact exercise for it. And so that way, maybe they’re still getting the same load. Because most sports are most positions even. I know what I want to train, I know what their bodies need. It’s just they do need a little bit of variation to keep things fresh to keep their body adapting in different ways to prevent overtraining, fatigue, or even injury. So there’s always a little bit of variation, it just kind of depends on the athlete, what they’re capable of what their needs are, that’ll kind of determine how much variation there’s going to be in their program.

Trevor Connor  23:57

Wow, that’s a sophisticated.

Jess Elliott  24:00

There’s tons of options. That’s for sure.

Chris Case  24:02

I think something you briefly touched upon earlier, and that is your philosophy that cyclists should definitely train year round. This isn’t something to to save or reserve just for the offseason or some particular time of year. It’s an all around type of thing.

Jess Elliott  24:19

Yeah, absolutely. You know, you really have to be strategic about when you start. And so really, we’re kind of right at the perfect time to start implementing some resistance training. Is this something that you want to start adding in right in the middle of your competitive season? Probably not. It’s just going to be too much stress on the body and such a different form of stress that your body is actually going to have some probably negative adaptations from it. But yeah, I’m a huge component across all sports and cycling, especially about training year round, because why would you ever want to lose the adaptations that you worked so hard to gain? So then instead of actually building and submitting on your progress from year to year, it’s, you know, you’ll build a little bit during the offseason. Competition season is actually going to trash your body. And then in the act of recovery, you rest, and then you start building again. But you’re not really going to make those long term gains, because you’re you make the progress, you compete, and then you lose it. And then you go back in and make some progress, and then you lose it. So it’s kind of that, you know, two steps forward two steps back in a sense. So really, it’s more about implementing periodized programming over the course of an entire year. And if you want to get fancy with it, you know, looking at your planning over the course of a few different years.

Trevor Connor  25:31

So just to show you how much just knows I’ve done multiple interviews now with with pro tour riders, who have said in the last few years, they’ve really switched and now they are doing weight training all year round, that it’s not just an offseason thing. And I’m actually looking at another Ronstadt study right now from 2016, where they took elite cyclists had one group that did heavy strength training, right up until they started competition, compare them to a control group that didn’t, the group that did weight training, they saw improvements in everything lactate threshold, basically, how long they could see their power output at four millimoles as basically lactate threshold, their max power, you know, a whole variety of variables. They then during the eight week competition period, had them stop weightlifting. And they saw the weightlifting group, relative to the control group. So a much greater drop in all those variables. Citizen stopped weight lifting. So it’s not like there’s some people believe Okay, I’m going to weight lift, I’m going to do a close to the season that’ll last me for months. It’s no, you stop weightlifting, you’re gonna notice it? Oh, yeah.

Jess Elliott  26:39

They actually say within two weeks, you’re gonna start noticing and

Trevor Connor  26:41

that’s exactly what they’re saying in this study.

Jess Elliott  26:44

That’s really cool. Glad you found that.

Trevor Connor  26:45

Now what about you know, a lot of cyclists will will take the summer off of weightlifting,

Chris Case  26:50

a lot of them take their whole lives off. Yes,

Trevor Connor  26:53

Chris doesn’t train Chris doesn’t get in the weight room. And he just beat me by two minutes up a climb. It drives me nuts.

Chris Case  27:00

Sorry, Chris, his

Trevor Connor  27:02

approach is just have really, really good genetics.

Chris Case  27:06

And have fun, Trevor, have fun. You can if this is cycling, where’s

Trevor Connor  27:12

fun involved? Chris, you should be hurt eating you. But you do have some cyclists they finished the season, they haven’t been in the weight room. They’re out of balance. They’ve atrophied a bit. I’m assuming it would not be a good idea for them to get in and have a really heavy day, would you want to have a period of almost just bodyweight or light lifting to get the body ready for the heavier sort of stuff?

Jess Elliott  27:39

Sure. I mean, that’s definitely a logical line of thinking, I don’t know that there’s a one size fits all answer. I’m good at giving a lot of those unfortunately, that here’s an answer. It’s not necessarily the only one. I think with people that don’t have a lot of experience in the weight room, you need to learn how to move first. So you never want to build strength on top of this function, we need to put people in the right positions, and especially at the end of a competitive season, I mean, you still want to take a break, go through an active recovery phase, maybe do a little bit of cross training, load your body in different ways. Psychologically, it’s a great break as well. We dropped down there training like in the gym as well. So it’s a good time to do just full body like circuit training doesn’t necessarily need to be very intense, just taxing the body in different ways. But really, you know, during the summer season, or really, at any time of the year, if someone’s getting into strength and conditioning training for the first time, you definitely want to start with core movement patterns and teaching those and then progressing them gradually. So for most movements, you know, if I’m teaching a squat, I’m not going to teach them with the barbell on their back for the first time, you know, I’m going to take a look at their bodyweight positions, I’ll probably take them through some sort of functional movement screen prior to all of that, just to see how they’re moving and then start teaching some of these mechanics before loading up the body. So from that standpoint, I think it’s good to do some bodyweight exercises. But for someone who’s maybe a little bit more advanced, or maybe someone who has more of a background in weightlifting, I don’t think that they need to skim things down to just bodyweight at any given point in time.

Trevor Connor  29:11

So Chris, I hear you’re the one who has the plague this time around. I think I was the one who was sick in August. How are you feeling?

Chris Case  29:18

I’m getting there getting there.

Trevor Connor  29:21

Oh, you got that good, gravelly voice for the podcast.

Chris Case  29:24

Yeah, I’ve been working on my podcast voice for a while.

Trevor Connor  29:27

now. That’s dedication for you. However, generally, you are a healthy guy. And for Healthy People like you. There is health IQ, which is a life insurance company that specializes in healthy, active people, like cyclists, runners and variety of sports. They are able to give us a favorable rate for life insurance and they have a special URL just for Fast Talk, which is www dot health slash Fast Talk, where listeners can go and get a quote While you are there, you can submit race results screengrabs of your Strava or map my run account. So Chris, are you heading over there pretty soon I’m doing it right now as

Chris Case  30:09

we speak. Well, that was a wealth of information on the the broader picture of strength training, I think it’s about time we we got down to some of the nitty gritty, some of the the terms we’re going to hear first should be defined in our in our discussion of the exact exercises or some sample exercises that people might want to do as they take up their weight training. And also timing. I think timing is a crucial component to this discussion, because there’s a lot of misconceptions out there that a weight training day is a rest day. And that’s just totally wrong. So Jess, I’m going to kick it over to you, maybe you could define some of the terms that we’re going to hear in the sample exercises that you discuss.

Jess Elliott  30:57

Sure. So some of the definitions we talked about were you know, what is he centric loading, what is concentric movement, etc. And what’s isometric movements. So he centric actually has to do with the muscle lengthening under load, concentric is going to be the exact opposite where the muscle is shortening under load. So to give you an example, when I do a bicep curl, the bicep muscles going to be concentrically, you know, shortening and contracting to initiate the movement. But what’s happening on the opposite side, the antagonist muscle is going to be the tricep is going to be lengthening under load. So it’s also a term that we call reciprocal inhibition. So essentially, what happens on one side of the joint, the opposite has to happen on the other side of the joint. So if on one side, the muscle shortening, the opposite side has to lengthen to allow the movement to occur. And then finally, we have isometric contraction, which has to do with a muscle contracting, but it’s not actually changing its length. So it’s neither getting longer getting shorter, but it’s still contracting under resistance or under load.

Trevor Connor  31:57

Right. And so a really important thing to know about when we’re talking about a centric load is you can produce more force e centrically. But it is also very damaging to your muscles. That’s true. And so when people go into the weight room, or you go into, let’s say, plyometrics, and two days later, you can’t walk. It was because of all that e centric work that you were doing. It’s painful in the short run, but it’s been shown to be very beneficial for injury prevention, which is relevant to cyclists, because they’re now showing there’s a little bit of eccentric activity in cycling, but it’s minimal. Oh, interesting. And there, so that obviously led to research saying, are cyclists more injury prone? Because they’re never doing a centric work? And that actually has been demonstrated?

Jess Elliott  32:47

Yeah, I could see that.

Chris Case  32:48

So let’s pronounce it East centric or eccentric, II centric. You do? Okay. I mean, if somebody is, is I

Trevor Connor  32:57

just dropped the mic, or is it spelled?

Chris Case  32:59

Is it spelled the same way as the word eccentric? Like someone is eccentric?


I believe so. Okay.

Chris Case  33:08

non circular, non uniform. Okay. Maybe it’s just now what

Trevor Connor  33:13

is the English language ever been consistent,

Jess Elliott  33:16

I think there’s definitely a time in place for E centric loading. Like you said it, because you’re lengthening the muscle fibers under load and under resistance, you are going to cause more trauma and more micro tears to a given muscle fiber. And so because of that, you’re going to have greater adaptation. So it’s going to grow back bigger, stronger, etc. It is more taxing, because there is more damage being done to it. And what’s interesting is, that’s actually why it helps with injury prevention. So for an example, you see this a lot in endurance athletes is something like patellar tendonitis, where it’s chronic, it just never goes away, they have this knee pain. And so one of the ways that I actually address that and treat it with my athletes is taking them through East centric loading. And so I can do this in a stationary lunge. I’m not a huge machine weight person. But you know, sometimes it’s a good controlled environment to do some of this eccentric loading, where in a stationary lunge, it’s not so much of the concentric movement pressing up and standing up that I’m concerned about. It’s that lowering phase that he centered lengthening of the muscle under load. And so I’ll have them take five to 10 seconds to lower into a lunge position. So what I’m doing is I’m actually intentionally and very systematically causing damage to the muscle, because what happens with tendinitis is that there’s just this chronic inflammation and your body is never recovered from it, it just can’t quite heal it. And so you’ll hear about things like dry needling, it’s actually the same philosophy, where what they do is they actually take these needles and they go into a site where there’s chronic inflammation. And what they’re doing is they’re causing more micro trauma so that it flags to the body, Hey, wait a minute, this area, there’s still some healing that needs to occur here. Then it just flags to the body, hey, this, this needs a little bit more love and attention right now. And so then it helps to heal. Same thing with East centric loading is that we can flag to the body, hey, this area needs a little bit more love and tension, we still have things to heal here by causing a little bit more damage to the muscle and to the tendon.

Trevor Connor  35:18

For those of you who have had this experience, have you had the good old Russian gym coach and high school or something and they put you through a routine and, and you couldn’t walk for a week after the I had been there, literally a week of looking like a 90 year old. One nice thing is once you have caused some of that escentric damage, it’s very protective, you won’t experience the same sort of damage or what you care about the soreness. The next time you you do the activity. And what’s really nice is if you start with a session, that where you’re gentle on yourself, you just do a little bit of eccentric work, you’re not going to be as sore. And then if you A week later do the really hard session. Again, you’re not going to be as sore as if you started with a really hard session.

Jess Elliott  36:08

Yeah, absolutely. And like all things I mean, you know, with eccentric loading, it’s one of the many variables that we placed into a program. So it still needs to be imbalanced with everything else. So the last thing I want is for people to go out and be like, Oh, you centric loading is like the new thing. And then them kind of jumping on this and implementing across all of their training, there’s definitely a time and a place for it. And so we definitely want to make sure that we’re strategically implementing it into a periodized program.

Trevor Connor  36:33

On that note, the last thing I’ll add before just goes into some amazing terms and shows how much more she knows than I do.


No pressure, though,

Trevor Connor  36:42

no, no, no pressure at all, except you’ve showed me up dramatically so far. So I expect the same. When I prescribe. Personally prescribe exercise programs to athletes, I will give them both timing for East centric motion and for concentric motion. often find with exercises, you want to move slowly, ie centrically, where concentrically and again, this is panning out in the research, whether you’re talking about before that you need that explosiveness, you need that power, that you want your concentric motions to be as rapid as possible. Even if you are lifting close to your max weight, and you’re going to be slow, they’ve shown that just the intention of lifting that weight as rapidly as you can, it has an impact, it will have a benefit to your cycling. So I will usually give a very short concentric time for the activity to my athletes and a slower East centric.

Jess Elliott  37:38

Sure. And I think as a general rule of thumb, it’s a smarter approach to take, I’ll kind of take it a step further as well, because yeah, for most people, you do want to focus on that concentric power. And so the East centric loading, because it can be so damaging, it’s very controlled. So what you’re doing when you’re centrically loading, you’re also decelerating the weight. So if we think about a back squat, the centric movement is lowering down into the squat. So a lot of people there, you want them to focus on getting into the right positions, that’s not really where the power is. So we usually start by instructing them, you know, you centrically lower at a slower tempo, and then that concentric movement, we want to be as rapid as possible with good control, and good form. But kind of taking it also from the flip side of things is that it’s acceleration and deceleration of the bar. And so we want you to be able to control deceleration. But at the same time, I’m not going to say that we don’t want you to be able to decelerate rapidly, as well. So I wouldn’t say that you want to do that all the time, like slowly centric, quick, concentric, I’d say there’s kind of a time and a place for both, especially when you’re looking at, you know, rapid deceleration straight into a reacceleration. You don’t want to get stuck. So same thing with a squat is if you lower too slowly, it’s very easy to get under the bar and just get stuck. And so you want to be able to utilize that stretch reflex, the stretch shortening cycle to rebound up. Because what you’re doing is you’re storing elastic energy as you’re lowering down. If you do that a little bit too slowly, you’re not going to have that increased elastic energy driving you back up. So you’re actually going to lose a little bit force as well.

Trevor Connor  39:15

Well, I asked you to show me up and boy, did you do a quick?

Jess Elliott  39:18

No, I’m just I’m expanding upon it.

Trevor Connor  39:20

Thank you, that’s kinda where to put it. So when people talk about one RM, what are they referring to?

Jess Elliott  39:26

So the one RM is a one repetition max. And just to make things even more convoluted, I’m going to give you I’m going to divide it even further and say that there’s an absolute one rep max and then there’s like a technical one rep max. Absolute being like this is all that you can do. It’s not going to look pretty, but you can get the job done. Essentially, a technical Max is going to be the most amount of weight that you can lift one time while maintaining proper technique.

Trevor Connor  39:51

I used to teach a strength training course at CSU and I had this student that gave me a horrible review because he talked about this insane amount of weight he could bicep curl, that I asked him to show me. And I don’t think his elbows ever bent at all, he would just go lean forward, and then lean back and kind of bring his arms up with them. And just lift this huge amount of weight. I’m like, no. And I taught him to keep the body straight. Yeah. And and do it all with the arms. And so his head, cut his weight in half. So his review was awful strength teacher, my straight, you know, I’m half as strong as I was before.


I know. But is he down by half?

Trevor Connor  40:34

That’s another way to put it.

Chris Case  40:37

All right. So Jess, a lot of people out there at this point are probably envisioning rocky for. He’s in the barn he’s doing. He’s got his his ankles locked at the top. He’s he’s doing these massive stomach crunch things. He’s lifting lugs in the woods. He’s said what we’re talking about here. Should we get into the nitty gritty and talk about specifics? So I got a call Chris.

Trevor Connor  41:01

And I were two nights ago on the trainer, because it was snowing. So we’re doing a trainer workout together. And I put on rocky for what you had clearly never seen before.

Chris Case  41:11

I’ve seen it. It’s been about 1520 years, Trevor. Fair enough.

Jess Elliott  41:15

It’s a good refresher. It’s just a great visual. By the way, too. I have to say

Trevor Connor  41:19

that Chris made fun of it. I’m still angry. That’s what

Chris Case  41:22

you’re supposed to do when you watch it right? Oh, you’re supposed to take that serious. I just looked over and saw the sweaty guy next to me. I just got off the train and walked out of the room.

Trevor Connor  41:34

That’s true. Sorry to interrupt.

Chris Case  41:38

Well, so Jess, give us some fundamentals here give us a sample of what cyclists should be doing.

Jess Elliott  41:45

I feel bad, because I feel like I’ve given a lot of almost non answers and ambiguous answers, because there’s so much variation. But I think the biggest thing that I’ve started to see in this endurance population, in my time starting to work with them is, first and foremost, do something because I think there’s still this big kind of stigma and taboo around weight training in the cycling community. So the first thing is just do something, okay, something is going to be better than nothing. But looking more at the specifics, you know, general rule of thumb, what I would love to see is probably three days a week in the offseason, total body lifting throughout the course of the week, at least one day in between someone that’s newer to lifting, I might even lower that down and start with two days a week. So they can really get longer recovery times. Because I don’t want to overload their body with too much stimulus all at once. So start small, two days a week, maybe three, if you have a little bit more of a weightlifting background, especially in the offseason. And then depending on how your body adapts to it, and how your training kind of fits into that. I don’t see any reason why you can’t maintain at least two days in the competitive season as well. So I’m a big advocate of year round trading, and then really trying to develop a little bit more balance. Most cyclists, they’re very, very quad dominant. And so they can’t always get into the best positions. I’ve seen a lot of people when they squat, when they hinge their back is rounded, they can’t get into a nice hinge position. And so because of that, they’re actually going to be losing a lot of force, they can actually generate power through the glutes, and they’ll compensate and kind of almost like leg press and just do like leg extensions and really drive from the quads. And so over time, it leads to some imbalances between the anterior muscles versus the posterior musculature. So for me, I want to see like a two to one ratio between pull to push to start, that’s a general recommendation I have for any athlete, not just cyclists.

Chris Case  43:35

but you’re talking quads versus hamstrings in that example,

Jess Elliott  43:39

exactly. So not just in lower body movements, but upper body as well, I think, just in general, we spend so much time working on the front side, because it’s what’s in front of us, it’s what you see in the mirror. But really, most of the explosive force comes from the posterior chain muscles. And so I want to see a two to one pull to push ratio, whether that’s glutes and hamstrings to quads or whether that’s going to be back to chest. But in addition to that, I really do want to emphasize that posterior chain development, you’re already great, your quads are already strong, I get that I don’t need to make you good at what you’re already good at, I need to make you good at what you suck at. And that’s how we actually get athletes better. And I’m guilty of this too. I don’t necessarily want to do what I’m bad at or what’s uncomfortable because it’s hard and it sucks, but that’s what people need. And so it’s learning to train your body in some of those uncomfortable positions getting stronger in those positions, so that you can actually generate force from them.

Chris Case  44:36

And what about the timing of all of this? When should somebody be in the weight room, lifting weights and coordinating that with their five hour rides their interval days? What’s your system?

Jess Elliott  44:47

I think it depends on the athlete. If you guys have gotten tired of me saying that yet. I mean, really, it’s just about making sure you’re getting quality effort at all of your different trainings because I think the problem Is that, you know, people will try to do maybe a hard lift on the same day that they’re doing a really intense ride. And so then you’re not really getting great quality at either. And then also your body is going to take longer to recover, which we know people aren’t always great at focusing on recovery anyway, in an optimal world, I know that just timing wise, this isn’t always possible, I’d like to see like a good six hours, if you’re going to do something on the same day, give your body a lot of time, give yourself a break, to actually recover from one before you’re doing the other. So I’d say a good six hour break for same day trainings, if you’re doing a long ride, shorter ride, and then you’re going into the weight room, give yourself some time, as far as which one you’re doing. First, I think that’s going to have to do with individual preference. So I wouldn’t take a hard line on that. But over the course of the week, you know, there’s a lot of different weightlifting strategies. You can start with more of a moderate volume, day, go lighter kind of midweek, give yourself a little bit more recovery, and then maybe hit things a little bit heavier and harder going into the weekend, because you’re going to give yourself a little bit more time to recover, throwing kind of your cycling into the mix and your training there. You know, you don’t want to be riding hard and really attacking things on a day that you’re doing a lot of speed, power strength work. So look at your program, balance all those things to make sure that you’re getting good quality at each one. And then incorporating those recovery days and rest periods.

Trevor Connor  46:20

So things all add to that, because I’ve had athletes who say I can’t do all the work this week, because you’ve got me in the weight room three times, and you’ve got me doing five rides, and you add that up, that’s eight days. So inevitably, if you’re a cyclist who’s doing weight training, you’re going to have to do have some days where you both ride and lift. So I, I’m looking at a study right here that shows that if you lift before you ride, you actually see a the lifting has an effect on euro to uptake. So basically to get unguided, you’re going to take up more oxygen, so you’re essentially becoming less efficient. You also see a drop in the sort of max power you can put out. So what I will tell athletes is if you are doing weights, and a heart interval session the same day, one of them’s going to suffer at the end of the day, you’re a cyclist, so do the what I prefer is do the intervals in the morning, and then do the weightlifting later in the day. Yeah, the intervals are good affect the weightlifting session a bit. But since you’re a cyclist, it’s better that than having the weightlifting making your interval suffer. The flip side, if you’re doing weightlifting and say a four hour LSD easiest ride, doesn’t matter. If you’re hurting a little bit on the ride. It’s just slow volume. So do the weight training when you’re fresh, then go to your long ride. Absolutely. And I always tell athletes whenever possible, do weights the day before either recovery day, or very easy day on Mike.

Jess Elliott  47:49

Absolutely, those easy days can actually serve as a great recovery tool for the weightlifting sessions as well.

Trevor Connor  47:55

A lot of cyclists don’t know this, but weights are actually far more damaging than the training on the bike. So even you go out and do a hard five hour ride. They say it takes about 24 hours to recover. Right before we started here, you were telling me just how long it takes to recover from a hard weightlifting session.

Jess Elliott  48:13

Yeah, I would say between 48. But maybe even closer to 72 hours between weightlifting sessions would be ideal.

Trevor Connor  48:20

So what that means, because I have had athletes that do this, and it kills me, if you have a recovery day plan, don’t do weights on that day. It’s no longer a recovery day.

Jess Elliott  48:34

That’s very true. I think what people often forget is that the body doesn’t differentiate between stress. So whether it’s emotional stress, stress from work stress from, you know, maybe you’re dealing with flu season, or it could be stress from writing, stress, from weight training, all of these things, your body has a set response to physiological stress that’s being placed on the body. And so that compounds, and so even on the weight training side of things, you could lift back one day, chest another day, you know, legs on another day, do core work on another day. So even though you’re lifting different muscle groups, you’re still adding physiological stress to the body day after day after day. So that’s another thing to kind of keep in perspective, like you were saying is that, you know, when you’re on the bike, if you’re in the weight room, it’s all still added stress, and we need to really look at it that way.

Trevor Connor  49:26

Yeah, that’s a great way to look at it. It’s that good old and when you’re talking about recovery, stress is stress.

Jess Elliott  49:32

It’s true. La that’s catchy. I’m gonna steal it.

Trevor Connor  49:36

Please do though I can’t take credit for that one at all. I had a chance to talk with veteran pro and Olympian Brent Bookwalter, who has signed for two more seasons with the BMC racing team. Brad was back stateside to promote and ride in his fondo the bookwalter bench. Brett definitely feels there’s a big value to strength work and talks about the challenges of doing it while you’re constantly traveling. Let’s see He has to say,

Brent Bookwalter  50:02

Yeah, when I look at the past, you know, years of my career, I wouldn’t say I’ve done really much if any specific going to the fitness club or the weight room or the gym. And a lot of that, the main reason for that or logic behind it is that third, with my seasons, the past years, there just hasn’t been enough time to allow for a complete and effective phase of that, in my training, think the seasons, as we see kind of get later every year has more and more late season races that carry importance. And an excited start early to, you know, right through down unders kicking off in January. And even if you’re not racing there think, yeah, my observation the past five or so years is that the level and even the February races across Europe or the Middle East, the level just keeps getting higher. Yes, made for a more competitive, you know, full calendar of racing. And it sort of crimps down the time where we can do this traditional, like, preseason or offseason, foundation and building so personally, I don’t, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think it’s important and still has its place. And that said, I will say that I do a fair bit of off the bike work, it’s just stuff that I can basically do at home. And I just found that to be, you know, more conducive to my schedule, that short timeframe. And then that’s just really how I’m able to get the consistency, you know, some guys, I was talking to a guy today that I was riding with, he was just like, man, I cannot bring myself to do core work at home, like I gotta go to the gym to do it. So in that case, even if you have a small window, I think it’s really worthwhile. But, but me, um, I’m pretty effective and functional, I think just squeezing little sessions and 2040 minutes, you know, before after a ride or even to do in a day with to split sessions and get more quality in, in quantity. And we also have some great support from our team. In that regard. We have a group of like physiotherapist and trainers that that had that up, and, and they work. They’ve worked with us now, you know, the past few years. And they’re also with us at some races. So pretty conducive for identifying, you know, imbalances and weak points. And then the key for me is getting a sustainable program that I can do through my short offseason then, you know, try to maintain it through the season to Where’s You know, I think for any cyclist, especially a pro, it’s not realistic once the race season really kicks off, and you’re traveling, week in and week out to, um, you know, be doing offsite gym sessions feel

Trevor Connor  52:45

that something you can do in your room is feasible.

Brent Bookwalter  52:49

Yeah, definitely. And I think really valuable too. Yeah, so I guess yeah, the first thing is sort of like the fine, yeah, what, what gym or what weight training really means. And yeah, for me, it means using, using stuff that I can readily have with me. So it’s using a physio ball and a medicine ball and some resistance bands. And then I’m a big, big advocate for the redcord strength system. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. It’s a little bit like TRX.

Trevor Connor  53:15

But it’s using a lot of elastics and stretch bands.

Brent Bookwalter  53:21

Yeah, it’s using mainly just, you know, like suspended ropes. So it’s somewhat you can, I can definitely take it with me to a training camp and, and find a place to do it. You can’t just throw it over any door as easily as you can try. But I think the coaches and trainers that I work have, have heavily endorsed that over the years, that’s been a system that I’ve been using pretty regularly and seen definite gains from.

Trevor Connor  53:45

now, are you mostly focused on core? Are you working the whole body when you do these routines?

Brent Bookwalter  53:51

Yeah, it’s definitely working the whole body. And it changes a little bit like season to season I think, I think the biggest thing for me with any of these protocols are programs that you know, there’s always going to be like some good generic work, I think that everyone can benefit from but to really get the most out of it, you really need to get in front of someone, you know, for a knowledgeable professional that knows what they’re doing and can diagnose weaknesses and balances strengths. And really working on those because I think whether you’re a cat for cat five, or a pro, like what limits our progress is the weakest link. And generally, that’s not the stuff that’s fun to work on. So that’s the stuff that we need the most guidance with the even worse form correction and the most encouragement to do you know, some years I show up there December camp and our physios are like man, like you know, your glutes are not firing like you didn’t even after feet a little bit like you gotta get on this. So I’ll be doing more of that. And then last year, for instance, it was more like scapular stability and shoulder work. I really shifted into a lot of that as I was losing a lot of stability through like for my shoulders and upper back. So yeah, definitely trying to kind of touch on all the areas of the body and just Start on diversify and get some dynamic stimulus to this two-dimensional pedal stroke that we get stuck in for hours and hours.

Trevor Connor  55:07

So it sounds like overall strength work, but you’re really honing in on areas of imbalance or weakness to keep your body healthy. So it’s not just building strength for the bike, it’s keeping your body functional.

Brent Bookwalter  55:19

Yeah, exactly. And, and yeah, our, our trainers and physios that I work with, they’ll be the first ones to say like, you know, you could really benefit from doing some strength, more concerted strength work with these specific areas. So you know, maybe I’ll go into, you know, a short sort of condensed couple weeks or something like that.

Trevor Connor  55:37

It’s also Saturday, I’m sure our listeners would love to hear. Here’s your five favorite exercises. But it sounds like you’re saying, there are no perfect exercises for cycling, the better approach is see a physio or somebody who can find those imbalances for you and customize a program that’s going to hit the areas where you need it the most. Is that what I’m hearing from you?

Brent Bookwalter  55:58

Yeah, most? Most definitely. Yeah, I think that’s really where you’re going to get the most improvement and the most bang for your buck. But, you know, that’s not to say, I think there is some general template work that everyone can do. And I think we’re I would want people and that, in that regard is stuff that just sort of, like I said, diversifies us from that, that that pedal stroke where we’re, our lower back is flexed, and the quads are overactive pumping down. And we’re working the prime movers in the leg. So I think anything that can open up your upper back, and anything that can sort of activate glutes and hamstrings, and then really importantly, work some of this deep, inner core stuff that can tend to get kind of saggy. When we’re just sitting on the bike all the time, I think, I think that’s good for everyone. And even if you don’t have the means or the you know, the time and resources to get a personalized plan, I think we can still benefit from getting off the bike and this time of year that if I’m helping a guy out with some training program or advice, you know, tell him that I think it’s really important to do I think it’s always not the most fun, but I think, you know, cutting your ride 1520 minutes short, if that’s what it takes. And getting back from the ride or doing it before you head out and getting down on the mat and, and working your body in some more dynamic ways, I think is definitely beneficial.

Trevor Connor  57:25

Fantastic. I love hearing you say that. That’s what I’m always telling my athletes.

Brent Bookwalter  57:29

Yeah, yeah, I’ve been I’m preaching that to you to some of my friends that are, you know, juggling the hard full nine to five day and the kids now and you know, if they get an hour and a half to ride, they’re riding 93 minutes, and then going straight, you know, on the bike to, to the stove, or to the homework or straight to something else. And I know I’d definitely recommend at least Sunday’s gotten the ride 10 minutes short and getting on the mat and doing some stuff to sort of balance your body out instead of just pedaling, pedaling, pedaling and then straight into the day.

Chris Case  58:03

On the subject of joints. That’s not that’s not a that’s not a Colorado joke. I didn’t mean it as a Colorado joke, oh, man, I saw that I saw laughter in the room,

Trevor Connor  58:15

it was just too perfect.

Chris Case  58:17

on this subject of joints, though,

Trevor Connor  58:19

everything hurts less?

Chris Case  58:24

What are some sports specific cycling specific exercises? And when should people be concerned with differentiating between single joint exercises, multiple joint exercises, and then we should talk about when they should be doing these things and the timing of all of it

Jess Elliott  58:40

with single joint versus multi joint? You know, to me, it really boils down to it’s a question of, you know, are we isolating muscle groups. And really the main people that you see doing that are going to be that bodybuilding kind of population where they’re trying to go for a very specific aesthetic look. But the truth is, is that the body doesn’t move in isolation, you know, in sports. Movement is a complex chain of muscle actions that are continuously occurring at various joints, you know, and even if you’re having an action on one joint, you’re having a reaction at another joint. And so you can’t really isolate. And I think the problem when you do that is that it causes either over or under development of certain muscle groups, which is going to make people a little bit more injury prone. And so it’s actually going to start training the body more into dysfunction, instead of training them into a better foundation to build strength off of. So I think, you know, I’m definitely a huge advocate of multi joint exercises, big complex movements, you know, and that doesn’t mean I feel like when we think multi joint single joint, you know, that means I don’t think you should be sitting on a machine doing curls all day long. Is there a time in place to do that? Sure, there can be, but ultimately, you know, focus on focus on freeways focus on complex exercises, that really just emphasize quality movements.

Trevor Connor  1:00:00

somewhat ironic that as I remember, some of the reasoning behind building these machines that really isolate muscles is because they thought it would prevent injury. But in a strange way, as you were saying, it causes the imbalances that can lead injury,

Jess Elliott  1:00:14

it can absolutely, and a lot of people, you know, I’ll see people at the gym where they don’t actually know how to set the machine and actually adjust it to fit their body. And so you actually need to line certain things up with different joints, you know, the axis of rotation. And so a lot of people, you see this a lot with like the leg extension leg curl machine, people hop on there, right after somebody else, it completely fits them the wrong way. And so they’re actually training their body into more dysfunctional positions. But then also, too, I think what people don’t realize is that was simple movements, we tend to have different little compensations that we probably don’t even notice, if you take like a leg extension leg curl machine, a lot of people instead of keeping the toes and knees straight forward, they’ll actually externally rotate and kind of open up at the hip a little bit. And so over time, they’re actually training that lateral chain a little bit more. And so then it’s not just an imbalance between left and right, it’s going to be an imbalance within your quadricep group on one leg, where the vastus lateralis, your lateral or outside quad muscles is going to be stronger than the medial quad muscle, your VMO. Or Same thing with the hamstrings, where your lateral hamstring muscle, the bicep s’mores is going to be stronger than the medial hamstring muscles. So I mean, it’s not just training imbalances left to right, but even within a given muscle group.

Chris Case  1:01:32

What about upper body work? You know, we live in Colorado, there’s a lot of people that consider themselves climbers here. And there, their ideal physique is to look like T Rex, or bird or some some weird beast that has gigantic legs and no upper body whatsoever. What about upper body work in cyclists? What would you say to that,

Jess Elliott  1:01:57

I mean, it’s still essential, I think the biggest thing to consider is that it’s actually sports that pull our bodies out of balance, and that caused a lot of asymmetries. And that’s not to say that asymmetries are bad. You know, you sometimes hear a lot about that, like, Oh, my body needs to be in perfect balance. And, you know, that’s not the case, if I was to work with, you know, a pitcher, and I start to make him a little bit more symmetrical, we’re gonna start to have some issues, and I’m probably gonna lose my job. So it’s, it’s about realizing, okay, I’m going to have certain asymmetries that are functional, maybe for my sport, or maybe even for my profession. But you still need to bring your body back to functional positions for activities of daily life. And so most people, like I said, I’m gonna refer back to that two to one pull to push ratio, we still need to have good upper body strength, because also to your upper body, your core is kind of included in that. And so force is going to transmit through that core. And so you need it to be a strong solid conduit, that force can actually transmit through otherwise, I’ve heard this compared to like a soda can, if you were to just puncture a lot of holes in it and everything just leaks out. That’s all that force that you’re just losing. So you don’t want to be this kind of crinkly. hollow soda. Can you want things to be compact? You want to be solid, you want to be able to be a conduit for forced transmission.

Trevor Connor  1:03:20

There’s just there’s that huge health component.

Jess Elliott  1:03:23


Trevor Connor  1:03:23

You have to look long term. And I was in New York a couple months ago, and Dr. Pruitt walked into the room took one look at me. I was like, Trevor, I can see the guy faasos got on my case. I’m sure he mispronounced that. But no, that was right on perfect. Yeah, in the last couple years, I will admit, I have been neglecting the upper body work. So I’m back in the weight room right now. And I’m doing a mostly upper body routine, trying to get that balance back because I got unhealthy. Even though I had the best season I’ve had on the bike and yours. My bike, my body was not healthy. Yeah,

Jess Elliott  1:03:56

I think that’s a phenomenal point. Because I think, I think sometimes we get into our mind, like, Oh, I can always work on that later. Well, I can always work on that eventually. But you know, when we think about like long term athletic development, it’s your body’s going to reach a cap at some point. But if you wait too late to start your cap at that given time, it’s going to be a lot lower, versus if it’s something that you maintain your entire life. So if you maintain a general balance level of fitness throughout your entire body over the course of you know, your entire life, you’re going to maintain a lot of that in kind of the later stages of life. versus if this is something that you’re starting when you’re you know, in your 50s, 60s, 70s your muscles have already atrophied to a given point, and your body’s not going to be able to get back a lot of the capacity that’s already lost. So there’s definitely a point of starting too late. But I will add in the caveat where Yes, it’s important to train upper body more just for functional strength just to just to be able to move well just to be able to to control your own bodyweight, I think that’s something that everybody is going to need to have, you should be able to pull in press your own bodyweight. But does that mean that you need to do a full upper body lift? Absolutely not, you’re going to see that more with, you know, football style training four days a week to lower body days to upper body days. Is that something that I’d recommend for cyclists? Absolutely not. They want to do that cool. But is that something that they really need? No, but make sure you know, add in a horizontal pole, horizontal push vertical poles, vertical pushes, add those into your program, just to have them there to stay balanced. But you don’t necessarily need to, you know, load up five different exercises for your back in one program.

Chris Case  1:05:41

For those cyclists out there who are still saying, “Man, I can’t bring myself to get into a weight room, I just can’t do it.” Are there things that are in socking from experience? I’ve never been in a weight room. So I wouldn’t know what they’re like. I’ve no, I’m just curious if there are substitutes outside of the weight room that people can do that serve a reasonably good as a as a reasonably good substitute for some of the things we’ve been talking about push ups or push ups, good. Other things like that, that might help people wrap their heads around, I can do this.

Jess Elliott  1:06:19

Absolutely. And I think kind of a misnomer is we think about weight training as we need to use heavy weights. And we kind of think more about the equipment that’s being utilized. But absolutely, you know, to me, when I talk about like functional strength, pulling and pressing your own bodyweight, you know, get a pull up bar, do push ups, you know, get a tr x, make a tr x, you know, something that you can have at home. So if, if the stigma is about going into an actual gym, because maybe the culture is a little bit different, there’s a lot of equipment maybe people aren’t comfortable with, maybe it’s just time or added resources that they don’t want to allocate to something like that. That’s fine. You know, a lot of the things that I incorporate into some of my programming with elite level cyclists, were things like stability ball, leg curls, you know. So just using your own bodyweight rolling a stability while in towards your body, working on that hamstring, posterior chain developments, things like Bulgarian squats. So with that rear foot elevated, you can do that on a couch, you can do it on a bench. So there are absolutely ways to add resistance training into your workout without it being maybe weight training per se, and actually needing a lot of fancy equipment for it. And the biggest thing that I really want listeners to take away from this is just that said, principle specific adaptation to the imposed demands. So what you’re giving your body on a day to day basis, that’s what you’re adapt to. And so if you don’t like your progress, look at what you’re exposing your body to on a day to day basis, and then start to make some decisions and maybe make some changes.

Chris Case  1:07:49

Well, as someone who has never been in a weight room, I do, I do admit that I’ve done a push up or two in my day. But as someone who has very little weight training experience, this has been a fascinating conversation and very educational. One of the themes I think that came out of it is there is no perfect plan for one individual, it is very individualistic. There are some trends, there are themes, there are patterns, but it’s hard to really say this is what you should do. That being said Jess is going to put together a plan of suggested things, routines and exercises that people out there our listeners might be interested in seeing. Check that out on the website with this podcast. That was another fascinating episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Webb letters at competitive group comm subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. We love your comments. While you’re there, check out our sister podcast the VeloNews podcast which covers news about the weekend cycling. Become a fan of Fast Talk on Facebook at and on Twitter Fast talk is a joint production between VeloNews and Connor coaching. The thoughts and opinions expressed on fast dock are those of the individual for Jess Elliot Trevor Connor coach Connor Chris case. Thanks for listening