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Functional Training, with Menachem Brodie

Take a deep dive into functional training with Menachem Brodie—what is it, why do cyclists need it, and how to execute it.

strength training squats lifting weights
Photo: Victor Freitas on Unsplash

We all ride bikes because we love being out on the road or trail, we love performing, we love the thrill. It’s the part of our meal we look forward to. Our vegetables are all the functional work we know we need, but tend to push to the side of the plate. It’s the strength work, conditioning, core, stretching, foam rolling, and PT that we so often ignore.

But if you want to be at your strongest and, more importantly, if you want to do this for a long time, this is the work you can’t skip. Whether you’re 21 or 51, it’s going to come back to haunt you as Trevor and our guest today will testify to.

So today, we’ll take a deep dive into functional training… literally. Trevor and I both get down on the floor of the studio to do some exercises, all in the name of getting this important message across. We’ll cover:

  • What is functional training? And why this buzz phrase is often misunderstood, and why cycling seems to be way behind the curve.
  • The two main benefits of functional work: improving your neuromuscular performance on the bike and preventing injury
  • Why functional training and staying healthy aren’t simply a matter of stretching or picking up the periodic heavy weight. Proper movement and form are key.
  • Then, Trevor and I will get on the floor and embarrass ourselves for a bit.
  • Next we discus how to evaluate functional fitness and why you should consider having the help of an expert.
  • The importance of belly breathing.
  • How cyclists can succumb to the pitfall of less-than-optimal firing patterns and not even know it.
  • Finally, Menachem Brodie, our guest today, walks through six key exercises for cyclists.

If there’s one thing we hope you get from this episode, it’s to do these exercises several times per week. See the list below.

Our primary guest today is the aforementioned Menachem Brodie, head coach at Human Vortex Training and a USA Cycling expert coach. Along with Menachem, we spoke with WorldTour riders Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First) and Brent Bookwalter (Michelton-Scott). Both riders emphasized the importance of functional work, even if it means spending an hour less on the bike.

We also connected with Jess Elliot, the owner of TAG Performance Strength and Conditioning. She talked with us about how easy it is for athletes to fall into poor muscle firing patterns.

Let’s make you fast!

Primary Guests
Menachem Brodie: Head coach at Human Vortex Training and a USA Cycling expert coach

Secondary Guests
Brent Bookwalter: Pro cyclist with Mitchelton-Scott
Joe Dombrowski: Pro cyclist with EF Education First
Jess Elliott: Owner of TAG Performance


Episode Transcript


Intro  00:00

Welcome to Fast Talk, the VeloNews podcast and everything you need to know to ride like a pro.


Chris Case  00:14

Hello and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m your host Chris Case, managing editor of VeloNews joined by Mr. Functionality himself, Coach Trevor Connor. We like to ride bikes because many things, we love being out on the road, or the trail, we love performing love the thrill, it’s the part of the meal, we look forward to the vegetables? That’s the functional work we know we need, pretend to push to the side of the table. Some strength, work conditioning, core stretching, foam rolling, and PT that we so often ignore. But if you want to be at your strongest and more importantly, if you want to do this for a long time, this is the work you can’t skip. Whether you’re 21 or 51, it’s going to come back to haunt you, as Trevor and our guest today will testify too. So today we’ll take a deep dive into functional training, literally. Trevor and I, at different times in this episode, will get down on the floor of the studio to do some exercises. We live all in the name of getting this important message across. So today we’ll cover first, what exactly is functional training, and why this buzz phrase is often misunderstood, and why cycling seems to be way behind the curve. Second, the two main benefits of functional work, improving your neuromuscular performance on the bike and preventing injury. Three, why functional training and staying healthy aren’t simply a matter of stretching, and picking up the periodic heavyweight, proper movement and form our key. Number four, that’s when Trevor and I will get on the floor and embarrass ourselves for a bit. Stay tuned for that. Number five, we discussed next, how to evaluate functional fitness and why you should consider having the help of an expert. Number six, the importance of belly breathing. What the heck is that? Number seven how cyclists can succumb to the pitfall of less than optimal firing patterns and not even know it. And finally, Menachem Brodie, our guest today walks through six key exercises for cyclists. If there’s one thing we hope you get from this episode, it’s to do these exercises several times per week. To help you out we posted the list on the VeloNews website. So today our primary guest is the aforementioned Menachem Brodie, head coach at human vortex training and the USA cycling expert coach. That is among his many credentials. If you’re listening to this podcast in early March, Menachem is doing an online webinar through USA cycling on designing annual strength programs that runs March 18 through 21. Along with Menachem, we spoke with World Tour riders Joe Dombroski of EF education first, and Brent Bookwalter, who rides for Mitchelton Scott. Both riders emphasize the importance of functional work, even if it means spending an hour less on the bike. We also connected with Jess Elliot, the owner of Tag Performance Strength and Conditioning. She talked with us about how easy it is for athletes to fall into four muscling firing patterns. So sit up straight. Flex those internal obliques. Let’s make you fast.


Chris Case  03:22

This episode of the Fast Talk podcast is sponsored by Haute Route. What is Haute Route? Well, it’s not a cycling tour and it’s more than a road race. It’s a multi-day gran  fondo style event where everyone starts together each morning and you can ride with friends all day. You can indulge your competitive side on time sections if you feel like it and explore iconic cycling destinations around the world. Haute route takes service to the next level. With pro tour style support on the bike and rider focused amenities off it. Choose from a dozen events in 2019 in France, Italy, Norway, Oman, Mexico and China. In the United States, there are still entries available for Haute Route Asheville in May, which I will be attending and Haute Route San Francisco in September. Try something new in 2019 try Haute Route.


Chris Case  04:18

Well, we’re glad to have Menachem Brodie, join us today. Welcome to Fast Talk Menachem.


Menachem Brodie  04:22

Thanks for having me guys, really excited to be here.


Chris Case  04:25

And you are sitting in Tel Aviv. Is that correct?


Menachem Brodie  04:28

Yes, it is.


Chris Case  04:29

And you’re laying in bed because you have an injury. Is that also correct?


Menachem Brodie  04:33

It is my intern accidentally kneeed me in the back of the hip, my injured hip while I was holding the scooter off for him to get on to the sessions last night. So I’ve been laid up in bed all day.


Chris Case  04:43

Well I bring that up because I think that relates to your background and how you’ve come to be an expert on the subject of today’s podcast. So perhaps we take a step back or you take a step back and lead us on your your journey to where we are now in terms of your professional experience.


Menachem Brodie’s Journey That Got Him to Where He Is Today

Menachem Brodie  05:00

Yeah, and you know, now that you mention it, it’s kind of funny how it all comes full circle, you know. You don’t expect it to but just with the injury waking up this morning and I looked at my wife and like, oh good. It’s kind of like, you know, the universe kind of guides you where you need to go because allowed me to dig up some old notebooks I have and mine them. But that’s kind of been my-my journey, like you mentioned to where we are today. My, my path, athletically has not riddled with injuries, but I’ve had a couple big injuries at tantamount points. I wound up having surgery after I tried and failed the second time to walk on to the University of Pittsburgh, men’s basketball team. This is when they were good. They were you know, number 17 or 18 in the nation under Ben Howland. So, yeah, you know, a six foot two kid who can’t really jump from Crow Hill is gonna make the team. So I wound up being asked to join the team as a manager, and it was during that time that I got into coaching, cycling. I was looking for another sport, pretty much I picked up biking as a way to get away from basketball, because my trend is that whatever I do, I love. I always do something I’m passionate about. So working at the division one level, top 25 team, as a manager, doing the extra work nobody wants to do, but I loved it. You know, working 80 hours a week, I needed something else outside of basketball, and that’s when I started riding a bike. But essentially, I asked the coach of the cycling club for a training plan for half a year, and he just kept putting me off. And then he finally sent me one out of a book that I had read and I’m like, “Okay, this, this sucks.” And I decided no, what I’m going to be a coach, and that was the beginning of it. I was an exercise physiology major, with a specialization in coaching. I’m like, “I can do this, this is what I’m going for. So let’s add cycling.” And that has become pretty much my-my full time job. But that’s pretty much the start, and the second injury was I decided in my fourth year of coaching that I was actually going to start taking it seriously. And I’m like, “You know what, I need to train myself if I want to be able to help athletes. I don’t have to be able to do well. But I need to be able to do it good to show.” That season I got myself up I finished 11th in a three four race as a category four. It’s Pittsburgh, it’s not super serious. But that was after I didn’t know where the finish line was. So none of my athletes make that mistake. And uh-


Trevor Connor  07:09

I’ve done that, I did that my very first race ever. Mostly because a guy in the race told me the finish line was 500 meters before it was so I absolutely sprinted my brain out and blew up 500 meters before the finish line, and then he biked by me laughing.


Menachem Brodie  07:23

Almost the same actually, for me. One of the guys was like go, go, go, and I’m like there was two little chicanes. And I thought it was the first one because he was telling me to go and I thought that guy was my teammate, and I had to ride it back up. That was frustrating. It was like, yes, and I come around the corner and I’m like, “Oh, crap.” So anyhow, I got to that point, and just one day, I was out for a long ride and exactly the halfway point away from home, it felt like someone took a flame thrower, a sharp knife and dug it into my hip. I wound up like pedaling two and a half hours home, because I couldn’t clip in my left foot. And that was the beginning of the end of my racing career. But the beginning of a very fruitful thus far at least start strength training. And that was the beginning of going from an average personal trainer and strength coach to being where I am today was just how do I fix myself? And what are, how do I help my athletes not have that issue?


Trevor Connor  08:12

That kind of gets us into today’s topic, which is this concept of functional training. And I should mention, so you and I met this fall at the USA Coaching Conference in Colorado Springs, which gonna quickly say that was a great experience for any coaches out there listening to this, if you have the opportunity to go to it, I highly recommend it. And you gave a fantastic talk there. And a lot of people came in to watch it. One of the things I noticed was you seemed to be opening a lot of eyes, that there were a lot of people who really hadn’t thought about the need of this off the bike functional work for cycling and the importance of it. And is that I’m sure that’s that’s something that since you’re now going around lecturing on this, since you’re talking with people and there’s I’m sure that’s something you’ve seen a lot.


Menachem Brodie  08:58

Yeah, immensely so, and that was a fantastic, that’s honestly one of the best conferences I’ve been to and I’ve been to quite a few. USA cycling’s did a fantastic job of really making sure that it’s well rounded. We had the art of breath, McKenzie was there. And you know, so many different people. It was a great event as a whole. But it’s also we have things like the art of breath. I’ve been coaching that for the last four years, because that was something I was seeing. And most of my 50 plus year old clients was diathesis and poor breathing patterns. But there’s a lot inside of strength training that as a cycling as a whole, we’re so far behind the best practices, like you know, it’s we’re in the 1970s and and everybody else is in the 1990s. Let’s be honest, except for a couple, you know, people in the professional levels. Do you recognize the name Harvey Newton?


Trevor Connor  09:46

I don’t, no.


Menachem Brodie  09:47

Chris, how about you?


Chris Case  09:48

No, I don’t.


The History and Knowledge of Harvey Newton

Menachem Brodie  09:49

Harvey was really the first person in cycling to take the to be the town crier and teach people strength training, this is back in the 1980s. So Harvey’s a fantasitc, knowledgeable coach. I’ve spoken to him two or three times here, and he was trying to teach and it just people weren’t ready yet. And you recognize that. And what’s happened with cycling is I honestly think we all make fun of triathletes. But I honestly think triathletes are responsible for us making that step forward in strength training. That and cyclocross. The reason is, a lot of us start, as Americans, we think of strength training as bodybuilding exercises. And what this goes back to is what happened in the 1970s. So, in Russia, you essentially have the Eastern Bloc approach where they’re doing Olympic lifts with kids with with wooden dowels, mind you. But they’re learning these complex movements at young ages. They’re learning how to do calisthenics, they’re outdoors, they’re doing gymnastic style things. Whereas here in the States, we were guided by Dr. Cooper, and we all know the Cooper run test. So what happened is the US kind of split ways and the guys in the United States that were doing strength training, tended to be Arnold, Bill Blankfield, uh, all these big guys. And that’s still very ingrained in the American thought of what strength training is. But if you actually take a step back and look at every other sport, they’re all doing the are mostly doing the Olympic lifts, or parts of the Olympic lifts in some form throughout the season, because of what it brings to the table as far as the neuromuscular response. And that’s something that we as cyclist I think, kind of, don’t, rec- recognize as much because we’re thinking, oh, we’re on a bike. It’s a simple movement, you know, it’s a circular movement, we’re locked in on a crank. So all I have to do is be able to pedal my bike. And really, there’s so much more that goes into allowing the nervous system, the neuromuscular system to progress, and that’s the fourth pillar of how we actually progress as athletes, you have hormonal, neuromuscular, cardio, respiratory and metabolic. But the neuromuscular, we just think I’ll do a couple of fast pedals or stomps, and I’m okay. But it goes far beyond that.


Trevor Connor  11:52

And I’m also going to add to that, yes, it is a simple motion, and we’re really just doing one motion on the bike. And that has some dangers in that it can really lead to imbalances. Unlike other sports, where you have multiple different types of motions, and you’re using all different muscles. Cycling tends to really build some chains will really not touching others, and if all you ever do is ride the bike that’s going to lead to huge neuro muscular imbalances that can cause injury and ultimately affect you on the bike as well.


Menachem Brodie  12:19

Spot on.


What is Functional Training?

Trevor Connor  12:20

Maybe we should take a step back, let’s really go high level here and just say what exactly is functional training?


Menachem Brodie  12:26

So excellent question. Functional training is 100% a buzz topic word or a buzzword, if you will, kind of like I don’t know, paleo diet or keto is, it’s the same thing.


Trevor Connor  12:34

Oh boy, you’re really picking a fight with me now.


Menachem Brodie  12:38

Everything works, I’ve got somebody on intermittent. It all depends on what your goals outside of cycling are, ad that’s really what functional training should be. Functional training, in the best practice of it should be allowing you to go out and do the sport or the tasks that you want at a high level while keeping you balanced so that you’re able to perform for the next 20, 30, 40 years. So sorry, cyclist, I know it looks really freaking cool. But getting on a stability ball and doing barbell back squats is not functional, unless you’re in Cirque du Soleil, in which case, totally cool. Can we please have three free tickets for the three of us? But we have to think and we have to look at ourselves and our athletes. Most of us are professional at something else, and are serious about our cycling. We’re sitting at desks, we’re doing other stuff 40 to 50 hours a week, but we elect to get on our bike and perform. So our functional training as amateurs is going to be very different at a certain point than those that are professional, you know. 20 years ago, even 10 years, if you will, the worst or number one injury for a cyclist was knees. And that was because we were just getting on the steel frame bikes without a concept of what a real bike fit was or what it should do. And now we have all these different cleats and you guys talked about this with Dr. Andy Pruitt. Now it’s back pain. And that makes total sense. You know, if we want to go down that rabbit hole we can but there’s so much more to it. And the bottom line is for the average cyclist, for those of you that are listening to this, you know .Chris Froome of course hi, how you doing? Again three tickets, Tour de France, please for three of us. We’re hey, gotta do the plug but you can right? If you don’t ask you never know. For most of us, we just have to think about how to balance and how to get back towards baseline. Yeah, it’s really awesome to be super aero. But, you don’t want to be you know 45 and you look super aero on the bike and then you go to stand up and the kids are running away like it’s not Halloween yet the hatchback is coming. We have to find that balance.


Trevor’s Personal Story About His Back Injury

Trevor Connor  14:35
To share a little bit of personal experience here because I’ve had a bad back since I was 16, and it at points in my life has been debilitating. I was fortunate that in 2014 or 2004 when I started working with my old coach Houshang Amiri he was huge on functional training and had us doing it all the time, and I basically went from 2004 to around 2013 2014 with no back pain because of everything that he taught me about the importance of this functional side. And I admit, in 2015-2016, I got really busy, I didn’t have as much time I slipped into that mindset I told none of my athletes to slip into. I have limited time suspend it all on the bike. I stopped doing my functional training in 2016 and most of 2017, my back bothered me every single time I got on the bike. And that then led to poor performance on the bike, your experience, but one of my big experiences, when I work with athletes and talk about functional trainers, I always get the question, “Well, how is this going to improve my performance?” And you can’t necessarily draw a direct line saying you do these exercises, you’re going to be stronger on the bike. It’s more that argument that if you are functional and injury free, that’s going to allow you to train better, that’s going to keep you healthier on the bike that’s ultimately going to allow you to get better performance. Versus what I experienced, which was my back started bothering me, then I couldn’t train then I got slow on the bike. And those were the first couple years where I actually felt old.


Menachem Brodie  16:03

Yeah, and you hit it on the head is, it was important to you, because your coach helped you realize the importance of it, and you knew it was important. But let’s be honest with ourselves, we love being on the bike, like we don’t want to stay home with a kettlebell for or come home and then pick up a kettlebell for 15 minutes, because we love the feeling of being out on the road of conquering something in front of us. You know, Strava was was, you know, the bane of my existence as a coach, I’m sure with you as well, the first couple years until you realize you did what? Yeah, I got a KOM by a minute, that was your peak performance. Why wouldn’t you do that?


Trevor Connor  16:40

I didn’t do any of my interval work this week. But look at this KOM I got, isn’t that great?


Menachem Brodie  16:45

Nobody’s gonna get it for like a year. Yes, let me not go this weekend. That’s what we need actually, Conor. We need a we need a Strava for strength training for endurance athletes. You did how many kettlebell swings?


Trevor Connor  16:57

Oh, that would be great.


Menachem Brodie  16:59

It makes sense. And a lot of it is the body’s also gonna adapt to what we do most of the time. So for an a bike, and we’re pushing ourselves, our body instinctually, if we want to talk about the lizard brain as is popular, that’s the buzz phrase, man, we’re just loading up on buzz phrases today, keto. It really is a fight or flight, right? So our body is going to adapt to whatever we ask it to do, and this is where, if we’re smart, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And the challenge is for us to make that connection and make it important enough for us, for the 10 minutes, you get back off the off the bike. Go through extension exercises, go through your posture exercises, and practice deep breathing, to get the ribs and spine to move again. But we have to make it a habit. And there’s the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a fantastic book, it talks about why I can’t remember if it was Bush or Obama, maybe he changes it every four years, whoever’s in, I don’t know. One of the Presidents doesn’t choose his shirts, he only has two choices, and he let somebody else choose. It’s either a red tie or a blue tie. That’s it. He doesn’t he doesn’t make any choices up until he sits down in his chair. Because there’s something called decision fatigue. So for your Coach Connor, it sounds like he made it, he didn’t have to think about it, I’m going to get off the bike. And this is what I have to do. It is part of my workout it is written down. But we all do it, we all get away from our core exercises. And core is another trendy thing don’t, we can go down the rabbit hole as well. But it really is a matter of it’s not a it’s not needed until it’s needed kind of thing. And especially with cyclists in their their late teens to mid 20s. I mean, we see the compressive load of spine can handle male to male and female to female from 20 to 60, a 60 year old can handle I think it’s a third less of compressive force. And you think about the miles on the bike, we know that there’s tissue creep, which is where the tissues kind of elongate like that Laffy Taffy, the delicious Laffy Taffy we talked about earlier, and it kind of creeps. And then you also have overtime, we know that being in a flexed position, like driving a car driving a truck, not healthy for your back, because you’re in a flexed forward position at a little bit more than 90 degrees. Now we’re going to take a cyclist and we’re going to rotate them even more, we want to be about 45 degrees. So now we have a second risk factor. So we have that position, which is leading to creep. We have ourselves flexed forward, and then we’re taking minor vibrations through the saddle, and that’s a third and that over time causes the tissues to slowly kind of reach a failing point. And until your mid 30s like we see the onset of back pain for most cyclists who haven’t had a massive trauma occur around the fifth to seventh year or for a lot of cyclists is going to be what 32, 34. And it’s oh it’s just a rite of passage. You just have to deal with it, it’ll it’ll pass through. Get a get a bike fit and you’ll fix it.


How Often Should You Get Your Bike Fit Changed?

Menachem Brodie  19:45

Which leads us to the next part, which you guys spoke about with Dr. Pruitt, which was great. How often do you actually get your bike fit changed? And that should be throughout the year. It should be you know, you bring the stem down as you gain that flexibility in that position. You find that balance. You’re able to activate your glutes, you’re able to get good breathing patterns with ribcage and back body expansion. You feel the power, you feel good in that position, you drop down, and then the end of the season, September, October, you bring it back up. And most of us don’t even do that, like, ah, I want to get as low and narrow as I can, and year after year it leads, just to all these negative accumulation.


Why Stretching Your Back When There’s Pain Is Not a Good Idea

Trevor Connor  20:22

Just quickly add to that as somebody with a back problem, one of the biggest mistakes I see people make is that their back is bothering them, they have tight muscles, so they think I need to stretch those muscles. That is the worst thing you can do, those muscles are tight, because they’re trying to protect your back. So you stretch them, you loosen them, your back is going to get worse. What you need to be doing, if you have tight muscles in your back is bothering you is strengthening those muscles, activating those muscles, but do not try to stretch them.


Chris Case  20:52

It sounds like there’s maybe and maybe there’s more, but there’s two key benefits here. First, you’re actually going to improve performance on the bike, but you’re also going to help prevent injuries. Is that correct? Are there other benefits as well?


Menachem Brodie  21:06

Tons, but those are the two big ones. I mean, those are the ones that when we’re talking Chris, if someone understands those two, they’re going to do exceptionally well because they get it. But there’s a lot of other ones from posture and breathing. And that’s one of the big, big things that I’ve really been pushing with my athletes, the last two or three years, is posture and breathing, and, and that’s something that as a cyclist and triathletes, I honestly think triathletes have it worse than we do because they have an overhead sport before cycling, so their shoulders get messed up pretty much. But fitness is a trade off of a bunch of different variables, and we have to figure out a cyclist we need to control stiffness in order to produce the power on the bike for long periods of time. And that can only really be done if we develop it from the body to the pedals, which means we have to stiffen our axial skeleton, including the pelvis, the spine, the ribcage in order to produce the power necessary to be at the top of our sport. But, if we don’t balance out the posterior of the body, and especially with the diaphragm and the pelvic floor, like we’re really breaking what what Tony Gentilcore calls the three rings. Posture Rehab Institute calls it “The Canister” on the bike or rounded forward, and the interesting thing is, is that Dr. Stuart McGill, among many other researchers have found that it’s not a major impact on the back like a you know, bending over to pick up something heavy, necessarily, that causes back injury. But it’s something oftentimes, that happens due to repetitive motions, and you have something called creep in the tissues. And essentially, that’s just like taking the Laffy Taffy that’s been kind of laying on a warm counter, and you kind of pull it slowly, like you can kind of get it to look like it did at the beginning, but it just doesn’t look quite right. The same thing can happen to our backs. And that’s where we need to look at as cyclists is not just allowing us to be able to balance the movements we have in our sport thousands, 10s of thousands of times on an hour and a half ride. But it’s also allowing us to work on bringing those tissues back and building endurance in muscles that need to be able to hold us up in a postural way.


Trevor Connor  23:05

So interesting, you brought up Stuart McGill. I know that he can be controversial, got to point out he is Canadian.


Chris Case  23:14



Stuart McGill’s Theories on Muscle Isolation Strength Training

Trevor Connor  23:15

But I mean, I remember reading his book on on, I’m trying to remember the name of it, but but really focused on the athletes. And he was very against the whole the whole traditional idea of strength training of muscle isolation. He really said you need to train everything in chains, focusing on the sort of motions that you actually do in sports.


Menachem Brodie  23:34

And and he’s right, I mean, I had the opportunity to learn from him in 2013. He’s controversial because he he, he just follows the evidence. And I can’t repeat what part of participation was agreeing, there are certain things that he’s like, if you want to record it, we can all be really boring and very legal and blah, we have to follow the evidence, he just tells it as he sees it, and how it could be. So the interesting thing is, if you listen to his interviews from 10 years ago, and today, he’s still saying the current evidence, points us to X. It’s not, and a lot of people like to say like, oh, the McKenzie Method, the McGill Method and the McGill method is test the patient, see what is going to cause the issues, see what they can stand and then work from there. Because back pain, and especially a cyclist, we have to keep in mind that the body’s working systems. There’s a fantastic book out there, which which completely changed how I viewed my hip and my injury called Anatomy Trains by Thomas Myers, and essentially the premise of the book is there’s several different meridians in the body where the fascia of the body which is kind of like a spiderweb runs through all of these different muscles. What would you say Chris if I told you that your right pec major your right chest muscle is connected to your external obliques and the ABS and the and the lower hip on the opposite sid? Like you’d say, I’m crazy, right?


Chris Case  24:49

Ehhh maybe


Menachem Brodie  24:50

Or Canadian. Sorry I just had to do one.


Trevor Connor  24:54

There we go.


Menachem Brodie  24:55

Just one those Pittsburgh people, it’s all crappy beer.


Trevor Connor  24:58

I do have to say, you do have one of the coolest bike races in the world with the hill climbs in Pittsburgh.


Menachem Brodie  25:05

Oh, that was so much fun.


Chris Case  25:06

Yeah, Dirty Dozen. Yeah.


Menachem Brodie  25:08

Oh, you guys should totally have Danny Chew on the show. He is, you can’t put him down. Fantastic human being just a lover of bikes and a great person all around.


Trevor Connor  25:16

Well the other great race I did, you guys, this was my all time favorite race was Altoona, which wasn’t too far away from Pittsburgh.


Menachem Brodie  25:22

Yeah. Yes. And that was such a shame that was so well put on. So well put on every year, yeah.


Trevor Connor  25:29

It was true European style race in America. I mean, it was seven days almost all road races.


Menachem Brodie  25:35



Trevor Connor  25:35

It was fantastic.


Menachem Brodie  25:36

Altoona. It was really hard for them. I, the team that I first sponsored when I became a coach back in 2007, Pittsburgh, Elite Villa, worked closely with with the organizer, and uh it was really hard for him. Like he tried everything to keep it the last year and it’s changing. It’s and that’s what we spoke about a little bit at USA cycling coaching summit. I mean, it’s, it’s tough, man, it’s really tough.


Trevor Connor  25:59

It is really hard to be an organizer now.


Chris Case  26:03

The thing I was going to say, to try to encapsulate or capture everything that we’ve been describing in terms of functional training. It sounds like what this is, is individualized strength training that fits into your life and takes into account who you are as an individual, what you do for day job, if you’re not a professional cyclist, tries to counteract some of those habits you may have picked up at work your workplace by sitting at a desk all day or, or whatever it is that you do for a day job, and take all of that into account. To then create a plan, a strength training plan, that-that counteracts those specific things takes into account your predisposition for X, Y or Z. I guess that brings in and I hope that that’s a good explanation or summary. But I wonder if if I feel like that also brings up the “Okay, so how do I know what my strengths and weaknesses are from a functional standpoint?”


Menachem Brodie  27:06

So I believe I will have to put a deposit back in the Canadian bank, I believe they would call that a howitzer. You just knocked that out of the park, I mean that through the glass man.


Joe Dombrowski’s Advice on Function Work

Trevor Connor  27:16

We had a chance to ask Joe Dombrowski with EF Education First Pro Cycling about functional work. He pointed out that you don’t need to use heavy weight. But it is something that you need to keep up.


Menachem Brodie  27:29

The stuff I do is mostly bodyweight. Like this winter, I was doing a bit of weightlifting, but not not a whole lot. But yeah, mostly, you know, pretty, pretty simple stuff that, I think it’s, I think it’s one of those things where, at least for me, I find that once I get into the racing season, sometimes that kind of starts to fall off, you know, like, we, you know, we start going to stage races, and maybe you don’t feel like doing your core work in the morning. You know, during stage race, and then that carries over to when you go back home, and you’re back to training, and then eventually you’ve done like, essentially a whole month where you haven’t done any of that. And, and you can see over the course of the season, where if you don’t do that, you start to get sort of sloppy on the bike. And I think, for me, that was a big thing this winter is, you know, making sure that it’s an everyday sort of thing, and really being committed to it. Just as committed to it as I am with doing, you know, my training on the bike. And then, you know, trying to continue that throughout the season. Even in, we had a pretty good support with the team in terms of physical therapists and, and all that that worked with us on that kind of stuff.  You know, even in like, say, a week on World Tour stage race, I see the physi,  almost every morning and I’m doing core work before I race. So.


Trevor Connor  28:54

Wow. That’s commitment.


Menachem Brodie  28:56

Yeah, you mentioned time trialing, like that, I think it’s also particularly important because your ability to make power in sort of aerodynamic reduce position. Y ou’re relying on a lot of a lot of muscles that, you know, don’t really seem like they’re doing a lot, but you know, 45 minutes into that time trial, then you start to get sloppy and you start to lose power, not because you’re like not physiologically capable of sustaining that power output, but you just can’t sustain it.


Trevor Connor  29:34

Back to the show.


Strength Assessment and Stretching

Menachem Brodie  29:36

So I want to I’m going to tie these two together the stretching in the strength that you’re asking about. So strength assessment. Let’s go through the stretching and, Trevor, I’m with you. And I see the thing is people mean well, and a lot of us don’t know what we don’t know, right? I’m totally guilty of that. But you you hit the nail on the head, and a muscle has three jobs in the body. Number one is always to protect a joint. Like when I woke up this morning. Yeah, I can feel my iliacus my glute meeting glute men were on lockdown. You know, it’s like Sanquintin. Like, I just I woke up like hmmm, this is not gonna be good today. So you can’t a lot of people go, “Oh, the muscles tight, so I’m going to stretch it.” The thought process needs to be the muscles tight. Hmm. Why is it tight? Okay, number one is to protect the joint. What could have happened that it wants to protect the joint? Number two is to stabilize the joint on adjacent joint moves. And number three is to move a joint. So when you go through that checklist, if you’re thinking, Oh, I just did a century ride yesterday, and my back’s tight and, then tight hamstrings oh, man. Hamstring tightness, by the way, is almost always neural tension.  So stretching that will only worsen the back and cause more more more symptoms. So that the stretching of hamstrings does not offer a protective against injury, I guess you would say and there’s studies I think it was fouls in early 2099, something like that. And there was another one in 2001 and other one 2003. Stretching helps us feel better. And stretching does work. But it doesn’t solve the issue. It’s kind of like potholes. So if you’re from Pittsburgh, and you guys have both within snowy places, so I hope your your department of transportation is better.


Chris Case  31:10

I think I know where this is going.


Menachem Brodie  31:12

You fill the pothole, right, and you’re like, oh, great. And a week later, it’s three times as bad. And you’re like, yep, I’m now commuting five more minutes to work because this is really dangerous. There’s giant potholes and there’s gravel everywhere. It’s the same thing with stretching, there are times to stretch a joint but even better, is to add strength and bring you back to back strength. Protective mechanism for back strength is endurance of those muscles. Just because you can deadlift 500 pounds off the ground, doesn’t mean you’re going to be better protected against a back injury, whether you’re a cyclist or triathlete or just you know a jock. It’s the endurance of those muscles, especially the upper thorax, we have the monogamous, which runs essentially along the spine. And what’s interesting is the upper spine where us cyclists tend to round forward is 75%, slow twitch, which means it’s an endurance based muscle. But down at the bottom, it’s 50-50, it’s half and half, because it’s there for performance. And as cyclists, were just sitting there and stretching it out. This kind of leads to the strength assessment. So we have to look at every individuals, you know, just like a bike fitter, I’m fitting you when you walk in that day, I’m not fitting you for where you were last year.  I’m fitting you based on how you’re moving today, unless you say to me, “Hey, I just flew in, and I’ve had this crick in my neck since I got up.” Then we’re obviously going to adjust a couple things. So the strength assessment looks at number one, I start from the second I see the person. They don’t have to say a word I’m looking at, how are they carrying their shoulders? How do their feet hit the floor? Where their knees in alignment where compared to their hip and their ankle? Where are their shoulders compared to their knee from the side? And we have to figure out how are you,how’s the body strategizing to hold itself up when you’re bipedal when you’re walking? And then when we get on the bike we see some people that get on the time trial bike, or they get on the road biking, like, “Oh, it’s like butter on a Pillsbury biscuit just beautiful.” When other people get on the bike, like, “Oh, man, what are you doing?” So we have to kind of look at how are you moving? And it’s the same thing that you can do at home. This doesn’t have to be fancy, stand in front of a mirror, or stand in a well lit place and have somebody take a picture of you front, right side, left side, back. Just make sure it’s not in front of a window. But we want to look at your posture. And then how are you riding the bike? So have someone take a video or do it yourself from the side so they can, you can see yourself from tip to toe on the trainer, and also from the front, tip to toe. And that will give you a good idea as to how you’re moving. Now even better if you have space or have someone who can hold the phone behind you look at how you are supported or not supported, and how your spine is moving. And that can help us determine what strengths do you need on the bike? And then looking at how you’re walking and how you’re sitting and holding yourself, what strengths do you need off the bike? We have certain common threads and cycling, and that is we know that the posture is going to be jacked up because we’re in that rounded four position. So we went through ASIC extension, which is something that can help us within reason, decrease lower back pain. So actually, if you’re listening at home, unless you’re driving a car, don’t do this. If you’re listening at home, sit up in your chair, go ahead and find a chair that puts you at 90 degrees. So Chris and Trevor, if you guys can do that, that’d be great. Now I want you to try and tuck the chin back. So kinda hear that change in your voice. So you’re sitting nice and tall, pretend Miss Manners is behind you and pulling a string through the back of your head. And you want to lift your head like a ballerina. Now, I want you to take your right hand, and if you find the the sacroiliac or the bump on the back of your butt right in the middle, go ahead and walk your fingers up about I don’t know about an inch and a half, two inches. So it’d be about where your pinky finger would be. If you push your head forward. You’ll feel those muscles turn on you guys feel that?


Trevor Connor  34:49



Menachem Brodie  34:50

And then push the head back. Does that stay on or does it turn off?


Trevor Connor  34:54

Watching Chris crane here with his head going back and forth.


Chris Case  34:58

This is what we should be video taping right here. Two guys sitting in a room touching their butts that’s-


Trevor Connor  35:04

With their heads going back and forth like a bird. You, you just did that to embarrass us this has nothing to do with the podcast at all right?


Chris Case  35:12

Who’s filming us right now?


Menachem Brodie  35:13

Did you guys look at the window behind you. Come, come on in. Smile you’re on Candid Camera. But those muscles turn off and on. That’s the longissimus and and there’s there’s two segments. There’s the longissimus and iliocostalis groups. Usually in the anatomy books, they’ll kind of call them the same. But really there’s the thoracic portion and a lumbar portion. What we did by bringing that head forward is we activated a little bit more of the thoracic portion, if you stand up and do this, you actually feel much more obvious because now you’re instead of having your feet in front of your your abs have to file, fire rather. As cyclist, a lot of our spinal erectors are being lengthened. So think about having to hold a 13 pound bowling ball in your hand. I can’t even hold a regular six pound kids bowling ball without getting a sore shoulder when I’m riding a lot, but hold it in front of you. 13 pounds on that long lever arm is going to cause you know, severe muscle soreness. When you’re riding your bike, you’re essentially doing the same thing. So we have to think about getting that head back over our spine, it doesn’t mean we have to be perfect or walk around with the cheesy, you know, smiley face the worst picture face in the world as some of my clients call because I have double chins and I go I don’t like this. If your Adam’s apple showing, that’s also a sign that the posture can be corrected. But if we bring you back, if we just tuck that chin a little bit when you’re off the bike, if we do that for two to three weeks, and we get you to do a couple McGill crunches, which really should be called mental bracing, where you get the transverse abdominus fired up the internal oblique, very important and highly underrated if we want to talk about functional training, I would hone in on the glutes and the internal oblique. Because-


Chris Case  36:48

What’s your internal oblique?


Menachem Brodie  36:49

I’m glad you asked. The internal oblique, if you kind of poke in, well, it’s after Christmas here so, if you kind of poke in on the side, where the edge of your six packs would be on the outside, you know that kind of line that kind of, you know, or that’s where the belly starts and my case, you’ll actually feel there’s a little kind of a divot, if you brace your stomach, so let’s we can do two versions, I’m gonna lean back from the microphone, the first one is going to be a kind of scare the cat, you’ll feel the muscles bulge out, or you can do the karate JAAA. And you’ll feel those muscles bulge out. The internal obliques are just towards the outside of where your fingers are, and they kind of lay down in in on the inside. So if you were to kind of put your hand back, take your left hand reach across, going towards your back pocket. So that awkward, why would I ever reach for anything back there. That’s how the internal obliques run and they’re an intrinsic muscle. They help us to buffer pressure, intra abdominal pressure, and to stabilize the spine. The extra oblique is one that we tend to get when we think about side planks, a lot of people are getting into those, but really the internal obliques actually tie into the glutes. And the thing that’s interesting about the internal obliques is they actually have four compartments. So you have lateral medial, so outer and inner, upper and lower. And as cyclist, we’re turning two of those three off. We tend to turn off the medial the inner part. And we tend to turn off the lower part because we’re in that rounded position forward. So these muscles help to stabilize our spine, our rib cage and pelvis together. And as Dr. Pruitt pointed out in your in your interview with him, the saddle I mean, people its shoes and saddle, that’s what you travel with in your bag, Chris was that you mentioned the old pros that have like the duct tape together seats, you know, they’re carrying around. Like when you find a match for your butt, you know, otherwise, yeah, your ass is grass as they say. A little too much fun here. It’s just water, I promise, it’s just water. You would know, I’m a leaky guy, you would know.


Menachem Brodie  38:47

So essentially, we have to fire these muscles up, and this is where the strength assessment comes in. That’s why we look at the head compared to the shoulder compared to the hip compared to the knee we want to straight up the line as possible. And most cyclists are going to have the head poking for the adam’s apple is going to show and those shoulders rounded forward. Well that’s turning off at least two of those four compartments. Theoretically, empirically, I don’t have any hard evidence to say so. But it’s also going to allow us to put more stress onto our back, and for any of us that that ride, that’s the last thing we want. Because when you have back pain, I think we’ve all been there, your backs a little bit tight you get on the bike, you ride for 10 or 15 minutes you feel great, you’re like I’m so glad I went out. You get off 10 minutes after the shower. You sit down you’re like “Oh dear Lord, what did I do?” And now it’s that vicious cycle downwards, which is sounds like Connor, you kind of had an experience with.


Trevor Connor  39:35

Yeah, I’ve had a lot of experiences with back issues with back pain and it’s definitely something to avoid.


Chris Case  39:46

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What Can Cyclists Do With a Self Assessment?

Chris Case  40:37

Can, I um jump in here for just a second? You, you were talking about how people could do a little bit of self assessment with taking photos of the different positions front back, left, right sides on the bike, off the bike? What can they do with that information? Or are you recommending they do that and then show that to someone else? With experience to understand how that relates to the strength training they might need to do?


Menachem Brodie  41:04

Yes to the ladder. So thank you for bringing us back to that, Chris. So essentially, we can all see like how out of alignment you are, and how much are you wiggling. So on the bike, it should be a video off the bike, it should be a picture. And what you can do is you want to look at the alignment. So we want to see that for the most part things are moving about straight. The body is not identical, like we like to think so. Julia Roberts is the most beautiful woman in the world. Actually, there’s now a woman in Dublin, or Ireland now who’s the most beautiful, and what they’re looking for, I’m serious, it’s symmetry. What they’re looking for symmetry, this woman in Ireland is like 99.8, and Julia Roberts is, you know, a far second at 99.73, or something poor Julia, you know. She had her time. We have to think that the body is not going to be perfectly symmetrical. But we want to get as close to that as possible for our body. So for example, the neck of the femur. So between Chris and I, we have four hips, well, three, if you count my don’t count my bad one, but we have four. His right, his left my right, my left. One of those four is going to have a deviation in that angle between five and 20 degrees. The point of this is we want to be roughly symmetrical, and this is where that whole you know the the vector and the spin scan 50/50 I need 50/50. Not really, we’re locked in. When it comes to your assessment, if you see that your listing to the right every time that right pedal comes up over the top, we should probably do something about that. I would start at the saddle, check the saddle height and then get you off the bike and look at you from the side, and right side left side. Are you pretty symmetrical on your right side and the left side? Why is your right shoulder rounded forward and your left shoulders rounded back or nice and upright. So looking at it from that direction, and what I’ll do Chris is I’ll send you guys links to a couple of the videos that I use to teach the assessment. One of them is a single leg hip lift, and this is fantastic. It’s pretty easy to do. Tom get the video ready, we’re gonna we’re gonna have him do silly stuff again. If one of you guys wants to try this now great if one of you wants to lay on the floor on your back, and what I want you to do with this-


Chris Case  43:01

Alright, I’ll try it.


How to Do a Self Assessment

Menachem Brodie  43:02

If you have like, you have a water bottle, preferably closed or empty, like something maybe a tennis ball that you can put that’s about the size of your fist between your lowest rib and your upper leg. Yeah, microphone. And what we’re going to do is you’re going to take, let’s say you’re gonna bend both legs, so you’re laying on your back, you’re gonna bend both legs, so both knees are bent, but your feet are flat on the floor. So kind of like you’re sitting in a chair with your feet tucked behind you. Take one leg, you’re going to place the microphone or the water bottle at the lowest rib and you’re going to place the hands behind your hamstring at the back of your knee and you’re going to pull one leg all the way up so that you can squeeze the microphone the tennis ball, whatever it is, so it won’t move.


Chris Case  43:44



Menachem Brodie  43:45

Okay, now I want you to-


Chris Case  43:47

I don’t know if you can hear me down here, but I’m on the floor.


Menachem Brodie  43:49

It sounds like you’re in a cave. Hey, is that my tennis ball? No I’m just kidding. So now what your going to do is I want you to-


Trevor Connor  43:59

I can always add pictures to this though.


Menachem Brodie  44:01

I want you to drive through, good blackmail is always an option, Connor always always. I’m just kidding. You’re gonna drive your weight through the other foot that’s flat on the floor while keeping that tennis ball or microphone from moving. So I want you to go ahead and drive five times through the base of the foot lifting your hips off the ground. And Connor if you can, you can take a video or stand above him so that you’re just above his head and watch how much his hips sway side to side.


Trevor Connor  44:26

Hold up. For the laws of bears and Chris I’m all for this.


Chris Case  44:29

I really don’t know if I’m doing this right but okay.


Trevor Connor  44:32

Okay, I am filming good video, okay, show us up Chris.


Menachem Brodie  44:36

Alright. How’s it look?


Trevor Connor  44:38

Awful. I’m pulling him out.


Menachem Brodie  44:39

Okay, he’s swaying side to side is one hip dropping over the other?


Trevor Connor  44:45

A little bit, he’s actually pretty good.


Menachem Brodie  44:48

And his his knee falling to the outside at all as he drives up.


Trevor Connor  44:52

Drive up again, Chris. Uh I would say it’s almost falling to the inside.


Menachem Brodie  44:57

Ah, interesting. Okay, so that’s unique. Let’s try the other side and see what happens. And these should be pain free by the way, so anytime. Anytime we’re doing an assessment, no sharp pain, numbness, tingling, losses, sensation. None of that should happen if it does you want to stop immediately. Don’t go oh, I wonder what what’s causing that sharp pain and keep going. You want to stop and-and move on to the next thing. All right, Chris any pain or discomfort when you switch legs there?


Chris Case  45:21



Menachem Brodie  45:23



Trevor Connor  45:24

This one the knee is going a little to the outside.


Menachem Brodie  45:28

Okay, and what’s what’s his, uh, his hip doing is his hip kind of dropping to the inside as he comes up, then he goes out hip drops down?


Chris Case  45:35

I’m tangled up in a bunch of cords under the table so.


Trevor Connor  45:39

We don’t have the best angles here. But it looks like it’s dropping a little bit.


Menachem Brodie  45:43

Okay, so, so this would be fairly common for a cyclist and you can go ahead and get up, Chris. Unless you found some change on the floor, in which case that’ll be great, we can go for drinks afte. Espressos on Chris. So essentially, what what this is we’re taking the psoas out as a stabilizer, or a hip flexor, and forcing your internal external obliques, as well as exstress on boram and a number of other muscles at the midsection to act as stabilizers while you’re going through hip extension. And the reason I like this a lot as a assessment for cyclist is because when we’re pedaling our bike, it’s almost simila. One leg is coming up the other leg is going forward. So we’re putting you into a non weight bearing on one side taking out one of the major stabilizers and there has been current research that’s come out suggesting that the so as acts as a lumbar stabilizer, and by the way, if anybody says to you an iliopsoas, you have my full permission to ask them, What are the five fingers said in the face, slap. There is no such thing the iliopsoas. It has been well proven since the 90s, if not earlier, there are two distinct muscles. The iliacus and the soas different innovations, they tend to branch off from the same basic nerve, but so do a bunch of other muscles. So please take iliopsoas out, throw it out. It is not a term, it’s not real. Or if anybody says that you can say false, Bears Beats Battlestar, Galactica, if you’re a fan of the office. But, alright, I’m having fun man.


Trevor Connor  47:06

We’re loving it. Keep going.


Menachem Brodie  47:08

Meanwhile, you guys are pouring this scotch, hey look at this guy.


Trevor Connor  47:12

Yeah, too early for some.


Menachem Brodie  47:15

But it’s, it’s one of those things where it’s a sport specific, and everybody now is sports specific. Well, as Eric Cressey says, you can get a sport specific as you want, but we have a problem in American baseball, where players can throw 90 miles an hour, they can hit left field, right field opposite field, and they can also throw a line from the outfield to the catcher, but they can’t play a simple game of catch. And we’re having the same thing with people who are doing sports specific training of lunges, and leg press and hamstring curls. These are great, but that’s like putting in a Ferrari engine into a 76 Pinto. You know, you can have a great engine, but you’re gonna have no control. But this is what’s important about strength training is that everybody wants sports specific, I want to do walking lunges. And again, it comes back to you know, which type of tool should you use kettlebells and bands and dumbbells? The answer is yes. Which one works best for you right now? Lunges can work, but do you have pelvic, lumbo pelvic control? Do you have the ability to maintain a good upright posture? Can you get back body expansion breathing?


The Crocodile Breathing Exercise

Menachem Brodie  48:20

So Trevor will try this one with you. It’s called crocodile breathing. It’s gonna involve laying on the floor. So if the floor is dirty, we may want a towel or we can just skip it for today.


Trevor Connor  48:29

Oh, that’s all right. Okay, I’ve been moving in a perpetual dirty state.


Menachem Brodie  48:34

And that’s why I chose you for this one after the hip lift after. So I actually I want this is going to help you open especially after moving and everything. So you’re gonna lay facedown on the floor. You’re gonna put your hands one on top of another and you’re going to put them underneath your forehead. So you’re laying face down. You want to make sure that you’re not looking forward so your nose should be kind of touching the floor straight in front of you. And Chris, I want you to kind of check his sides, the flanks. So I want you Trevor to take a deep breath in through the nose over about three seconds, and fill your back the middle of your back between your shoulder blades with air, and I want you to keep breathing in filing that space until Chris says that he sees the flanks expanding and that should happen. You’ll feel the belly kind of open up into the floor, but the focus is going to be on back body expansion. So breathing into in between your shoulder blades. We’ll go two or three breaths here and see how you do. Breathe in for five seconds. Hold for a count of three and then out through the mouth through a nice relaxed “ha” for two seconds.


Chris Case  49:34

Yeah I can see it. I can see everything’s moving even his butt is expanding when he does this.


Menachem Brodie  49:41

Okay, so that’s exactly we don’t want we don’t want his butt to lift. So that’s tight hip flexors. So, Trevor, what I want you to do is I want you to take your feet a little bit wider than shoulder width and I want you to point your toes behind you kind of like a dolphin.


Chris Case  49:56

He’s struggling to fit his length between garbage can and a rack of shelves and what else do we have a blow up doll and clothes stands and umm. Yeah okay go ahead.


Menachem Brodie  50:09

Chris, you know what this means, right? We’re gonna have to get a bigger room for you guys before we bring Bradley in. Bradley, he’s just not gonna fit it.


Chris Case  50:16



Menachem Brodie  50:17

Okay, Trevor, how’d that feel? So we want to keep the hips relaxed. So this is a common issue. Now, I’m going to give you one more cue. And this is a little bit tough to coach blind. But I want you to breathe in to the mid back, and at the same time, I want you to relax your stomach and think about filling air below your belly button at the same time, kind of like you’re, you’re filling the bottom towards the bowels, if you will. Chris to back at the hips to stay down a little bit better.


Chris Case  50:45

It’s a little bit better. There’s still a little bit of movement, but I would say it is better. Yes.


Menachem Brodie  50:50

Okay. And he’s still getting the sides of the belly to expand out?


Chris Case  50:53



Menachem Brodie  50:54

Okay, awesome. So, Trevor, if that feels good, go ahead and do two more. Do you feel any difference between the two of those with that different cue?


Trevor Connor  51:01

Yeah, hard to explain. But I feel like I’m staying on the ground versus lifting off the ground.


Menachem Brodie  51:08

That is perfect. All right. So let’s get you two more and then we’ll have you pop off, off the ground. And that’s probably from moving stuff and sitting a lot. But this is an important consideration for most of us, like after a ride, Chris, or even after just sitting in a chair. I’m gonna do this exact exercise as long as my hip doesn’t seize up. Either will be on the bed. And that was the other thing my wife came back. And she’s like, what are you doing? I’m breathing to relax my hip flexors. She’s like, we need to change the sheets, like, I know that now. Uh edit that out. No, we can leave it in, jokes on me.


Menachem Brodie  51:40

I didn’t do anything funny, I swear we were just hanging out. How do you feel standing up here?


Trevor Connor  51:45

Felt a little more relaxed.


Menachem Brodie  51:48

But this is important because as cyclist and I have a video up on YouTube called How to Ride your Bike Faster. And it tells people how to sit on the bike and belly breathe. Cool factoid, my sprint that I that I show there absolutely sucked. That video was taken the third week after I broke my ankle that I was allowed to ride the indoor bike. So I was really bored. And I was like, oh, let’s just make a YouTube channel about how to sit on your bike faster. And if you watch that sprint, it is textbook of exactly what not to look like. And thankfully someone caught that was like your sprint looks awful. I was like, Yes, thank you. What we’re trying to do with the belly breathing is expand that lower belly as well, which will keep those hip flexors fresh for when you need to get out of the saddle and pedal hard, which let’s be honest, all of us have those town sign sprints. We all want to be able to do that. And it allows you to use the major movement movers and tap into the glutes a little bit more, which actually do about 33% of the force or should produce about 33% of the force for when you’re cycling. But most likely to get it from their quads. Because we’re so focused on two things, one pushing down and two, rounding our back to get as aero as possible. So we’ve now altered the biomechanical positions. And this is bringing it back to the strength assessment. And why we look at the posture from the side, because we want to see how rounded forward are those hips, the rectus femoris, and the psoas and iliacus as well kind of shortened a little bit, because we’re asking the body. We’re saying to the body, hey, being in this round four position is really freaking important because there’s probably a cheetah or maybe it’s fast cat coaching coming after us, I don’t know. But somebody behind us is coming to eat us. It’s probably a cheetah, we should go fast. And the body’s like, Oh, this is important. I’m gonna remember this and keeps us there.


Why the Activations and Involvements of Different Muscles Are Important

Trevor Connor  53:29

I’m gonna take a quick step back here and just kind of give a very high level of why all this is so important and why we’re talking about all these different activations, different involvements of different muscles. I actually worked for about a year when I was at CSU in a biomechanics lab where we were modeling motion. So we’d bring in people, we had a 3D camera studio, we’d bring them in and capture them walking, and then the software will determine what muscles are producing those movements. Biggest thing that I learned from my one year in the studio is that we can generate the same motion a lot of different ways. So for example, you take your hip, my anatomy is horrible, but I think we have over 20 muscles that cross the hip. So when you’re talking about extending your leg, there’s eight, nine muscles that can all actually produce that movement. But with any particular movement, there is an optimal combination. Now, the extreme of where this gets bad is you look at elderly people, especially an elderly person who has broken a hip and they had that shuffle, walk. That’s a result of the major mover muscles are no longer firing properly. So they’re still actually able to produce that movement, they’re still actually able to lift sort of lift their leg, extend it forward, do the walking motion, but it’s weaker muscles. It’s not the optimal muscles that are producing the most movement. So you get this kind of shuffle, walk. I can’t I remember the exact statistics. But when you see that, that increases the likelihood of mortality in the next two years quite dramatically. So just that losing that function, losing that ability to use the optimal muscles has a huge impact on on mortality. When you’re talking about elderly populations. When we’re talking about us people on the bike, you might be doing the movement, you might be spinning your legs in a circle, you might be doing the pedal stroke, but you might not be using the optimal muscle combination, and you might not know it, and that translates into A) can lead to injury, B) you’re going to be weaker on the bike.


What Happens to Your Muscles as You Age

Menachem Brodie  55:38

And that’s what happens, right? People say, oh, and this is what I loved -just as I can put the computer in here- This is what I loved about Joe Friels “Faster After 50.” You shouldn’t be slowing down as you get older, triathlon they don’t usually. When you age up, you’re fast, you’re the fastest in the group, what happens is, is that over time, we lose two things. One is diaphragmatic breathing, which most of us as cyclists completely suck at, and this is important because your pelvic floor is actually made up of a number of small muscles, your your deep hip rotators, are your pelvic floor and your pelvic floor are your deep hip rotators. So you have, oh, man, it’s been a while since I’ve gone through these you have my favorite, which is glen ellis, right, there’s two of those, then you have the piriformis, which we all know. You have the rectus femoris, we have the ob trader, internus and externus, which a surgeon once tried to convince me where eye muscles, which is complete BS.


Menachem Brodie  56:29

So you have these six muscles that if you don’t get good diaphragmatic breaths, which most of us as cyclists and triathletes don’t, those muscles are going to shorten and tighten. To take it even further, The American College of Sports Medicine, the technical definition of aging is loss of range of motion at a joint. So I’ve seen cyclists who have hip extension of a 67 year old at the age of 28, and I’ve seen cyclist at the age of 25, who have shoulder range of motion, that is at the age of 80. So think about that. It’s not just that the age that you are, if those muscles having to balance so exactly what you’re what you’re saying Trevor is spot on, it’s not just the muscles having to be to go through that range of motion, it’s getting the joint into the right position, because joint position dictates muscle function. So those who who took the strength training for triathlon course I have, will remember that because I go joint position dictates muscle function, because it’s so important for triathletes to understand, cyclists, it’s, it comes back to that breathing. So yeah, you can biggering it all day. But if you can’t stand up and get hip extension, your back is going to hurt, and now you’re going to start to slow down. So you’re going from being the old fast guy to being the guy who just can’t shake off the wheel, or can just do that tempo that’s just hard enough all day.


Trevor Connor  57:42

And I think you also brought up a very important point earlier on that range of motion. Too many people equate that with, oh, I need to stretch, it’s all flexibility. Sometimes that can be counterproductive. But range of motion isn’t just about making yourself more flexible, you also have to strengthen those muscles, you need to get that proper firing pattern, all these things combined with also a level of flexibility in the muscle or what are going to allow the proper range of motion.


Menachem Brodie  58:06

And it also comes down to the the muscle fiber contractile properties that we want. So if you’re a bodybuilder, we don’t want to take yoga. If you’re a time trialist, and you’re having trouble getting your hips into that position, maybe yoga’s good for you for a small amount of time. So stretching, like everything has its place, but there is no one solution, and just stretching does not do it. A lot of time it’s neural tension, and that can only be worked out by getting the joints into better positions. So that is an excellent, excellent observation.


Trevor Connor  58:34

Last year, Chris and I talked with strength and conditioning coaches, Jess Elliot. She discussed with us quite sophisticated 3D motion capture system she was using to look at athletes muscle firing patterns. During her interview, she addressed just how minut a change in motion or position can lead to less than optimal firing patterns.


Less Than Optimal Firing Patterns: How Does This Happen?

Jess Elliot  58:54

And it’s it’s amazing just how minut certain certain things can be they can completely influence your overall performance. One of my mentors used to say joint position dictates muscle function, and that’s actually how the system can identify the primary movers that you’re activating. And they actually correlated the data that we received with the DARI system with actual EMG data as well. And so it’s usually it’s just the smallest shift in position that will cause us to recruit a different muscle that’s going to be less than optimal for performance, and that could have to do with muscle tightness. You know, if you have a little bit more lateral chain tightness, so you know, you’ll see people’s knees kind of bowing out when they squat, they need to open up the hips because they don’t have the mobility either at the hips or the ankles to really maintain a straightforward toe in the ankle position. So they like to open up the hips to kind of cheat the movements. But when they’re doing that, they don’t realize that they’re actually going to recruit slightly different muscles because they’re now in a different position. So remember, joint position dictates muscle function.


Everyone Needs a Bike Fit

Trevor Connor  59:53

Here’s this great opportunity to jump back onto one of my soapboxes, which is get a bike fit.


Jess Elliot  59:59



Trevor Connor  1:00:00

It’s the same sort of thing. If you aren’t quite in the right position on the bike, you can’t feel it. But you’re probably you you’re going to be recruited, producing the motion with less than optimal firing patterns, and that’s when you get knee injuries, that’s when you start getting dropped in races. And good fitter is going to be able to identify these things.


Jess Elliot  1:00:18

It’s true, it’s definitely investment you want to make, because you need to have that machine working for you, not against you.


Trevor Connor  1:00:23

Right. Let’s get back to the show.


Chris Case  1:00:27

All right, so we’ve heard a lot of going down a lot of rabbit holes, as we’ve as we said, we’ve gotten on our butts, we’ve gotten on our faces, laid on the floor, we’ve done some things.


Trevor Connor  1:00:36

And we have photographic evidence.


Chris Case  1:00:37

And we have photographic evidence.


Trevor Connor  1:00:39

It’s gonna get posted. Photography refrences.


Chris Case  1:00:42

Well, we’ll see, I mean we’ll see. But but let’s talk, let’s let’s dive into some of the practical nature of this and, and talk specifically about what cyclists should and shouldn’t do, when they should do it. All of those things.


What Cyclists Should and Shouldn’t Do

Menachem Brodie  1:00:58

You hear what you want to hear, so people are like “Oh, he said, this is gonna help me, but it’s making me more painful.” So the starting point is number one, the crocodile breathinh, I mean, that that is barn on, off the bike during the season, especially if you haven’t done any breathing exercises before. I always like starting there, and I’ll send you the video. It’s about three and a half minutes long, so the viewers can actually get queued how to do it. So that would be number one. Why do we start with breathing? It helps us get the recovery, and this is one of the biggest things that will also help you on the bike. During these exercises for strength training, you’re also learning how to control your breath, which allows you to learn how to control your heart rate, which allows you to control how you’re going to respond in a race, and this can make or break a career literally, and nobody talks about it. So that’s the first thing is breathing.


Menachem Brodie  1:01:42

The second thing, so crocodile breath, we would go two sets of five breaths in through the nose over five seconds, depending on the intensity of the ride will hold for anywhere from four to eight seconds. The higher the intensity the ride, the longer the hold is going to be, and then out through the mouth. Now, the mouth is going to depend if it’s a “ha” or “huh”, based off of your rib angle. But, we won’t go into that most cyclists, because the external obliques tend to be a little bit less strong will go through a “ha.” Tons of science behind that, we’ll get into that another time. So two sets of five.


Menachem Brodie  1:02:15

Next, we would want to go into the big McGill three and what he calls the big three. These are the McGill crunch. And please and I’m not saying this because I want you guys to come to my my YouTube channel. I’m saying it because 99.9% of the videos out there on the McGill crunch are complete and utter BS, they’re wrong. They are wrong wrong, wrong, wrong wrong. So it’s a point of pain for me because I went and followed it and had my own back pain get worse, and then when I finally learned from McGill, I’m like I need to make a video on this and help people. So number one is the McGill crunch. Start off with two sets of five holding for about three seconds. The big thing for the McGill crunch is remember we did that brace before where the fingers were so you went “orca.” That’s the movement we’re looking for. The head and the ribcage should be connected, and your head should just hover off the ground about paper width off the ground, barely off the ground. So two sets of five, holding for three seconds, working your way up to holding each for 10 seconds. Exceptions being if you have high blood pressure, you’ve had a certain aneurism or other things going on that are challenging your blood pressure that holding your breath and creating intra abdominal pressure are not for you, including if you have prolapsed, diastasis or any other issues of those sorts including abdominal surgery. So any type of stuff like that, skip the McGill crunches.


Not Just Your Normal Crunch

Chris Case  1:03:31

Sorry to interrupt you. When people hear the word crunch, they might assume that you’re talking about just a normal crunch. Well, how does this differ?


Menachem Brodie  1:03:41

Very much. So a normal crunch we’d like to think of flexing the spine. Well, here’s the thing spines can only handle so much flexion and extension depends. They’re all kind of like rods of steel. So my spine is a little bit more bolsterey, so I can’t get away with crunches, I’ve always hated them. Whereas my wife has a little bit shorter, more slender spine, she can do a bunch. The McGill crunch is actually a brace and it was given the McGill, a curl up is the official name. But essentially, we’re looking to brace the midsection. So the other way to think of it is keeping your chin tucked back in that cheesy smile face with a triple quadruple chin. Brace your stomach as if Jackie Chan is going to punch you in the stomach. That’s essentially the movement that the McGill crunch is. So really to McGill curl up or brace. It’s a very small motion. And all we’re doing is we’re accessing and activating all of the muscles that create this hoop around their abdomen, internal and external obliques transverse abdominus and yes, your rectus abdominus the six pack muscle. But we’re not looking for major motion from the spine. We’re looking for a bolstering portion like looking to brace as if someone’s going to punch you. So it should be a 360 degree brace around the midsection and this can take you a couple weeks to learn how to do it. It’s not a simple exercise and of point. Make sure you go to the restroom before you try these. That is incorporated.


Trevor Connor  1:05:00

These muscles that you mentioned, I mean, they’ve been referred to as your body’s natural back brace. So essentially what you’re doing is you’re developing those muscles to to help protect your back.


Menachem Brodie  1:05:12

Correct. And that’s why they’re after the ride is exactly that reason is, most of us are professional, something else, and even the professional cyclists will do this just one set instead of two, but more repetitions. So yeah, I mean, we just have to think about what are we just going to be a cyclist for the rest of our life, like, we’re just going to strap our kids on our back and take them to college that way. I mean, cool if you can, that’s awesome. But you know, in tandem doesn’t count we’re talking about literally on your back, neither does the basket. But we have to think about what we’re doing outside, and this is why it’s important to do these exercises after. So yeah, it’s the body’s natural brace. And this is you know, when someone takes a weightlifting belt when I just contributed to a piece for greatest on this is the weightlifting belt is there to help you create more pressure. And and my coach my strength coach is actually been on my back about it for a couple of weeks, because I’m moving heavier weights. I am not able to ride as much my hips been in and out, in and out. So I’m riding maybe three hours a week. I’ve put on a lot of mass because of that, which has taken a time to get used to. But the whole point of the belts for weightlifting, please don’t be the person who walks in and just puts on a belt like a lift ,I’m a cyclist, or triathlete. The weightlifting belts are there to help you create more intra abdominal pressure, that’s all. It stimulates it.


The Side Plank

Menachem Brodie  1:06:24

So we have the crocodile breath, two sets of five, we have the McGill crunch, or Gill curl up, let’s let’s make it the official. So it’s a very small motion, barely an inch for your head off the ground, but it should be ribs and pelvis ribs and head move together. And it’s a specific setup as well with one leg straight straight at the knee. Toes pointed up other leg is as Chris was before with the flat foot on the ground. We’ll watch the video for that. The next exercise is the side plank. And this is perhaps a great example of how things can be perpetuated on the internet incorrectly and in print. The side plank is an exercise that McGill actually found in his research was helpful. Now, the reason why the reason why people do the side plank with their feet stacked was an artist’s rendering mistake. The picture sent him is with the left leg back. But when the artists looked at it from the side, it looked like the feet were stacked which they are not. In order to access the most compartments of the obliques. Remember we mentioned before medial lateral, upper and lower. In order to activate all of those compartments, we want to have our left leg back. So it’s a side plank on your elbow, not on your hand, we want to be on the elbow, and you want to be in a straight line, tucking your chin back, ribs are down. So a lot of cyclists like to arch our ribs up or or push our butt back and the left leg is back. We’ll do these for two times.


Trevor Connor  1:07:48

So this is when you have your right side down, so your left leg is your upper leg. When you say it’s back.


Menachem Brodie  1:07:54

I do it for both sides. I do left leg back for both sides. That’s something that I found works. The reason is I learned this from Eric Cressey when you go to open a door, Chris are you right or left handed?


Chris Case  1:08:05

Right handed.


Menachem Brodie  1:08:06

And Trevor are you right or left handed?


Trevor Connor  1:08:07

Right handed.


Menachem Brodie  1:08:08

So when you go to open a door, which foot do you step foward before you pull the door open right or left?


Chris Case  1:08:13

Left foot


Menachem Brodie  1:08:14

Most of the time? Yes, Trevor, same thing?


Trevor Connor  1:08:16

I have no idea to tell you the truth, and now I’m gonna be so conscious of it.


Chris Case  1:08:22

Well this is gonna be fun.


Trevor Connor  1:08:23

I’m going to run into a door walking out of here because I’m going to be looking at my feet. We’re gonna be calling everybody saying let us out we can’t open the door.


Menachem Brodie  1:08:35

I mean last case of emotion. What I learned is most of us are right handed so the left leg goes forward. So that means the internal, external oblique on those sides are going to be offset, so left leg is back. And a lot of people are confused by this. I still have it with my distance clients where like they send me video. I’m like, why is your right leg back? Like because I did left leg on the other side. I’m like the name of the exercise is left leg back.


Trevor Connor  1:08:57

That’s fascinating. So left leg back both sides. That’s a nice little tip.


Menachem Brodie  1:09:01

Both sides.


Trevor Connor  1:09:02

Now I’m assuming for left handed people it would be the other way around right foot back or are you still-


Menachem Brodie  1:09:06



Do What Stretches Are Right for You

Trevor Connor  1:09:07



Menachem Brodie  1:09:07

Exactly. I love it. And that that’s that’s the key. And the thing is, is that we want to find what works for the person. And this is what you know what I found from learning from these top experts. Greg Contreras was another one, and at the end of his seminar, yes. What’s the best approach to help your athletes grow their glutes? Someone said barbell hip thrust. He’s like, I wish I could say yes, but that’s not the answer, and someone else said bodyweight and someone else said bands and he says you’re all correct. Find what they feel the most they get the most sore from and that’s what you’re going to do. Now. Disclaimer for him sore is good because he’s looking for for hypertrophy. We don’t want that as cyclists necessarily. But when it comes to our exercises, do the left leg back and then after two weeks, try it the other way. Try right leg back. Find what works for you. There are definitely people out there. Left leg back on my left side, right like back on my right side, why it works for them. So kind of find it. But the way I write it his left leg back.


Bird Dogs

Menachem Brodie  1:10:01

The fourth one is another bane of my existence as a strength coach and I’ve had two athletes in the last week do them incorrect. So he kind of kicked off this week’s Facebook posts on how to properly do these exercises. Bird dogs. The bird dog is meant to be a spine sparing exercise. There should be zero and repeat zero zip, zilch, nada movement at the spinal column. And this is where they’ve kind of been butchered where people take the elbow to knee and kind of crunch down. This is somebody decided they wanted more of a burn in anaerobic classic and see, you know, what’s her name? Back in the 1980s with the blond hair and the exercise step aerobics I forget her name, Jane Fonda. Yeah, but Suzanne Somers was another one, she was great on now step by step, which was a sitcom back on topic. So the bird dogs and these will be the next ones that I’m going to release here this week. So I’ll send it to you once it’s edited up, the bird dog, I generally start people at two sets of three. And we don’t even move the arm and leg, we just start off with just lifting the hand, keeping the midsection brace. So the big thing for cyclists again, is tucking that chin back. So you should be looking straight down in front of you, you’re going to go into a cow camel. So rolling your your pelvis forward, and the shoulders come down. And then we’re going to roll the other way, and you’re going to find spine neutral. Exceptions being if one of these is going to exacerbate your pain, don’t go in that direction. So we want to find spine neutral and then brace our stomach, we’re going to take our shoulder blades


Trevor Connor  1:11:27

Oh, sorry, just to interrupt you. So the starting position is for people who don’t know the bird dog.


Menachem Brodie  1:11:32

It’s our arms in on the on the ground, hands on the floor and knees on the floor with the feet resting behind you.


Trevor Connor  1:11:38

So like you were a kid pretending you were a dog.


Menachem Brodie  1:11:42

Exactly, and by the way, the reason they’re called bird dogs is because when you think about like the pointers, the breeds that were bird dogs, the tail goes straight back and the hand comes up, the front leg comes up, that’s where it gets their name, like Labradors.


Trevor Connor  1:11:55

So the traditional emotion here, because I do this a lot for my back is the you raise one arm straight out in front of you, and the so if you lift your left arm, you then raise your right leg out behind you.


Menachem Brodie  1:12:09

Correct. Exactly, and the thing is, is that it’s very challenging. We want the glutes to extend the hips, and we want the mid traps, and the rotator cuff, primarily to raise the arm, and some people argue with me with the rotator cuff, send me a message we’ll have it essentially comes down to that. But there’s good glendo humeral rhythm that should happen. So if you feel it in the front of your shoulder or your tricep for the arm, or you feel it in the hamstring or the lower back for your leg, you’re not doing it properly. So we want to digress, and Tony Gentilcore has a great video, I’ll have to remember to send that over to you on how to build up. But essentially, we’re only going to start for the bird dog wherever you can maintain trunk mobility, stability, not mobility. So you’re on the hands and knees, we’re going to bring the shoulder blades back into our back pockets, which is going to fire our lats. And what you want to do is brace your stomach and try and first just lift up the right hand off the ground and don’t let anything else in your body move. If you can do that great, right hand goes back down, reset left hand and we’ll start there, and there are a lot of cyclists that can’t even lift their hand off the ground without bending at the spine. So if you can do that, then we move to the legs, hands down on the ground. Okay, we’re going to try and slide your toe so you have no shoes on just socks, we’re going to try and slide the toe back on the ground from the hip. As soon as you feel either you lose the stability at the midsection, or you feel the hamstring firing too much, we’re going to stop the motion come back, and this is where most people stop bracing. They come back and you see their hips do all kinds of weird stuff. And it sounds like Trevor, you had a PT a physio teach you these. So I’m guessing they spent some time there teaching you to brace on the way back up?


Trevor Connor  1:13:45

Yes, I did. It was a chiropractor who worked with the National Program up in Canada who took me through all this stuff, and that’s what finally originally got my back sorted out. This was a key exercise for me.


Menachem Brodie  1:13:58

And how hard was it for you to learn it though? I mean, it must have taken a couple weeks if you were in that much pain.


Trevor Connor  1:14:03

Well, we started with easier. I mean, first of all we did for a month when I wouldn’t say my back was fully out. So we just started was lying on my back and just doing TV activation until I started, the pain went away or most of it went away. And then he started with these sorts of exercises and it was more preventative.


Menachem Brodie  1:14:23

And, and that’s the thing is, is that’s why it’s important to start where you start and I have one of my clients is 60-60 plus. She did the bike BC last year, fantastic athlete, lifelong athlete, and she sent me a video her daughter was trying to help. Her daughter met while she’s 13. And she showed her the version of touching the knee to elbow. So my client sent me the video and I was like No, no, no, that’s why your back is hurting. Do not do that. Because people yeah, people mean well, but you have to think what are the points of the exercises, and right now we’re at number four for our list of six exercises getting off the bike. So we have the crocodile breath two sets of five, McGill crunch to set our curl up I’m sorry. McGill, curl up two sets of five, holding each for three to five seconds, the side planks, left leg back two sets of 15 seconds each side. So right side 15, left side 15, right side 15, left side 15. The bird dogs at whatever remediation you need, if that’s the right word.


Hip Lifts and Sideline Windmill

Menachem Brodie  1:15:17

Number five is going to be hip lifts. So for this one, we want to keep the ABS braced and we want to drive our feet into the ground and use our glutes to extend the hips. After a ride, most of us aren’t going to have a lot of movement from the glutes, we’re going to have hamstring. So you start off just kind of squeezing your butt as if there is a million dollar bill back there trying to get as much emotion as you can, and then you build up. And they hit lifts, I generally tell people start at 15 to 20. But if it’s been a hard ride, you’ll have you’ll have cramping in the hamstring. So you just have to kind of play with where that is, and the last one is going to depend. It’s whatever exercise feels good to you. If you feel like your your neck and your upper back are nice and stiff, it would be something called the sideline windmill, which I can send you a video for. This is where you lay on your side, one hand on top of the other. If you guys know the dance craze for the elementary kids, Mama shark, dada shark, grandma shark, kind of like that. Do you have kids, totally get it, it’s stuck in your head. Sorry for bringing it up.


Trevor Connor  1:16:19

We won’t play it.


Menachem Brodie  1:16:20

Yeah, that’ll be the outro today’s special-


Trevor Connor  1:16:24

Oh God.


Menachem Brodie  1:16:25

And then you’re gonna lay on your side with a hands like that, and you’re gonna bring the knees in front of you, so that you look like you’re sitting in a chair. Now in that position, you want to make sure your spine is nice and tall, so you’re not rounded forward, spine is nice and tall, you’re going to roll forward with a top hand until the butt of the hand on the top is touching the tips of the fingers. And you’re going to try and rotate that hand on the ground up and over around you above your head, eyes on your fingers of the top hand at all times, kind of like you’re drawing a rainbow. So that elementary kids I work with for the basketball team, all make fun they go “rainbow” every time they do it because that’s what I told them at the beginning of the season. And this is great to open up the thorax, the rib cage, open up the lats, which are extremely tight in cyclists because we do no overhead movement unless you need a wheel, or you’re hungry. And that’s mostly for professionals. The worst is to see someone win a race try and throw the hand overhead, and it just looks like what’s he pointing out ahead of him.


Chris Case  1:17:26

Supposed to be a post lap?


Trevor Connor  1:17:30

Raise your hands when you win a race. This is important.


The Spiderman With Breath

Menachem Brodie  1:17:33

Exactly and wait till after you cross the line please. We’ve all seen that video of the poor guy. So that would be the last, the most common would be the sideline windmill, or the spider man with breath, depending on the Spider Man is called the greatest stretch of all time for cyclists. I like to call it torture, because it can’t get into the movement. I’ll send you a video of that. But essentially, imagine taking a long stride a really long lunge. So the back leg is straight, you’re going to put the hands on the floor inside the front leg, inside the front knee, and you’re going to try and squeeze the glute and then stand up from that position. If a cyclist ever owes you money at a bar, just have them do this and take their wallet, they’ll be down there for a couple hours.


Trevor Connor  1:18:10

And I do love to do you throw in an exercise of opening up the chest because cycling you sit there with your whole upper body crunched and you could see, you can see in long term cyclists they can just never their-their shoulders are always rounded. They’re always crunched up. So exercises that open up the chest are so important for cyclists.


Menachem Brodie  1:18:32

Yeah. And if you can’t do the sideline, windmill just foam roll your lats.


Trevor Connor  1:18:35



Menachem Brodie  1:18:36

A lot of people don’t know you can do that. But that like, like we talked about the beginning, like you know that the oblique ties into the opposite pec minor. And that like you said, Trevor, that that pec is so tight, so tight, but that also comes from the lat. So yeah, that’s why that’s why I threw that one in there. Even the spider man, there’s a rotation in it. My interest is doing an edit on one of them now, so I’ll see if I can send it over to you guys.


Trevor Connor  1:18:58

So we’ll post all of these exercises on the website. So for anybody who’s interested in downloading this routine, we’ll have it up after this podcast.


Menachem Brodie  1:19:06

I actually did a piece for Bicycling Magazine. I’ll send that over to you, it has eight different exercises for neck and shoulder pain.


Trevor Connor  1:19:11

Before we wrap up this episode, we thought we should include a clip by Mitchelton Scott rider Brent Bookwalter reminding us that it’s worth losing 50 minutes on the bike to do this sort of work.


Why an Extra 30 Minutes on the Bike Is Not Worth It

Brent Bookwalter  1:19:23

This is a really big issue and I think it is so on. I know for me is much easier to preach than it is to actually practice because me personally and I know a lot of people that are involved with cycling, we do it because we love riding bikes. If you love the freedom it gives us we love this endorphin high we get off it and we love just the mechanics and fluidity of the pedaling and the beautiful places that it can take us doing a big loop. That’s like my favorite thing to do is going off into the mountains and being out there all day and not riding any of the same roads and coming back. I think, yeah, a lot of times what if it comes down to riding one more hour or coming home an hour earlier, 30 minutes early, and focusing on efforts to recover or giving yourself a little more time to even just like kind of ten off areas of your life. To anticipate, you know, other training opportunities that are going to come later in the week, I think you’re usually better served a cup of 30 minutes, and come back and get yourself together. I know me personally, it’s an extra 30 minutes of my ride, and I’m probably gonna make me any, any stronger any faster, necessarily. But if if I ride an extra 30 minutes, I push it too long, and I come home and I know that I have to rush out the door right away for an appointment. And I’m not going to, I’m not going to eat properly, I’m not going to stretch properly, I’m not going to let my body cool down and recover properly, then, right away, I’m at a disadvantage for the coming day. Make sure I’m good.


Trevor Connor  1:20:50

Yeah, that’s really good point. So go ahead.


Brent Bookwalter  1:20:54

I met my wife, another angle there, my wife, she used to be, she used to race professionally. She obviously, she loves to ride as well, and she’s still rides alot, and when she was racing, you know, that was that was her job. That was- she, she was giving, so she was she was good about doing the core work and doing the stretching and paying close attention little injuries or getting massage or doing therapies that were needed to maintain and keep your body going. You know, now that she’s not racing professionally anymore, and she’s got a lot of other things going on in their life, she’ll still do these big rides. But then you know, come home and just jump straight into whatever else was going on. And then, you know, because of that will often have little little injuries flare up or little little quirks in the system, so to speak, that, you know, if left unchecked and are aren’t, are maintained properly then can cause a lot of problems. So I think it’s, it’s important to um, when you ask a lot of your body, you got to give a lot to your body back in return, and as far as time is concerned, that’s something you have to factor in your schedule.


Trevor Connor  1:22:05

Let’s get back to Menachem and wrap things up.


Chris Case  1:22:08

When you’ve got one minute you’re on the clock, boil everything that we’ve talked about today down into a minute for it for those out there, take homes.


Menachem Brodie’s Take Home Message

Menachem Brodie  1:22:17

Number one is, bands, kettlebells, bodyweigh, yoga, yes. Find what works for you. Number two, it’s consistent consistency, you are what you do for two weeks. Number three, it’s connective tissue adapting. So when you’re on the bike, get a bike fit twice, or three times a year. Usually the way it works, you pay for a big bike fit up front, and then it’s a small adjustment as you go through the season. Number four, work on your breathing. Breathing and posture are correctly connected and can be corrective exercises in and of themselves. And number five, as Trevor pointed out, as Ben Day had had said to him, at some point, if I if I got that correct, cut your ride short five to 10 minutes and do a little bit of strength training. We gave you six, seven exercises you can do, easily no equipment needed, you just need a floor, which hopefully you have. Otherwise, you’re falling and falling falling, and you’re the worst cyclist ever. Do the exercises. That’s one of the reasons I love winter trainer rides is you don’t have to have those 20 minutes of getting ready and getting undressed. You get off the trainer and you just use a kettlebell or whatever it is you need. And the last thing is, every body is different. Just because an exercise or a series of exercises in a certain way work for one person does not mean they’re going to work for you. Use your brain. If you’re not sure hire somebody. There are tons and tons of great strength coaches out there that if you’re forthright and honest with them, hey, you know what, I’m not gonna be able to pay you for months and months and months of individual training sessions. But can you do a session with me and give me some feedback on form and a basic routine? We’d be more than happy to help.


Chris Case  1:23:46

You took all the good points. But Trevor, do you have anything else to add to that?


Trevor Connor’s Take Home Message

Trevor Connor  1:23:50

So the one thing I’m going to add to that which you alluded to before, and we really saw this when you were describing these exercises is take the time to learn to do these exercises right. We are talking about functional fitness. That means proper muscle firing patterns. If you are doing an exercise with improper form, you are teaching poor firing patterns. You’re accomplishing the exact opposite of what you want to accomplish. So it’s better we had, I think it was a Dr. Pruitt who said this, somebody was on the show not all that long ago who said you are better off learning five, six exercises, but learning them well. Learning how to do them with proper motion, so that you teach the correct muscle firing patterns.


Chris Case’s Take Home Message

Chris Case  1:24:37

I think the one thing that I can add to this is not to take your good health and your good fitness and your good form and your injury free athletic experiences for granted. And don’t think that just because when you’re you’re 25 or 35 that, and everything’s fine and you haven’t got any pains that’s going to last forever if you just continue to do what you’re doing. Adding in these things, is something that I feel is a natural progression. And probably both of you would say the earlier the better. Don’t wait until you’re 40. Don’t wait until you feel like maybe something’s around the corner in terms of an injury or something like that. This is not just injury, injury prevention. After all, it’s about performance too.


Trevor Connor  1:25:23

So many things apply to those of you who are 21-22, you pay for it later. But, you do pay for it prevent it now.


Menachem Brodie  1:25:31

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you only understood that sooner. It’s fun. It’s all fun and games until you have that first big thing and then I can tell you again today being stuck in bed. It sucks man.


Chris Case  1:25:47

That was another fabulous episode of Fast Talk. As always, we love your feedback. Email us at Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. Become a fan of Fast Talk on facebook and on twitter Fast Talk is a joint production between VeloNews and Connor Coaching. Thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual for Trevor Connor, Menachem Brodie, Brent Bookwalter, Joe Dombrowski and Jess Eliot. I’m Chris Case. Thanks for listening!