Category: Cycling

What do HR Monitors do and why would I need one?

HR monitors utilize your personal data to calculate your different target HR zones from which you should train or exercise from. Well…what does that mean?

Basically, if you are a runner and you always run a 10K at the same pace and the same HR, you won’t get faster; simple as that. Our bodies need adaptation and periodization in training; we need to push beyond our comfort zones and train at various intensities as well as break down the body to enable it to recover, adapt and become stronger, faster, etc.

Let’s say you run your 10K at a 10 sec per mile faster pace this week. Now you know you are running at a faster pace but if you have a HR monitor on as well, you are then able to have two variables to aid you in your tracking of fitness. 1) pace 2) Heart Rate. The goal in training is that you will adapt the body to be able to run that faster 10K and maintain at a lower HR. The first time you run faster your HR will most likely sky rocket a little…but as you adapt and settle into your new pace and new training routine, your HR will also adapt and your fitness will improve over time.

There are invariably dozens of other training zones and factors that enable you to reach optimum performance in whatever your discipline is. The more you understand the why and how of what you are doing, the less time and effort you will waste on the “quantity” and the more time you will spend on the “quality” of training. If you are a squash player, understanding the HR zone that you stay in during a match allows you to “train” your system within and above that zone.

If you are an endurance athlete or triathlete, understanding ALL of your training zones and how much to train within each and at what part of the season is crucial to your growth as an athlete. Understanding aerobic and anaerobic capacity, sub-lactate and lactate zones, etc. are all part of the puzzle. The biggest blunder in endurance sports is in the mindset that “more is more”. Training smart and not necessarily more is how you will reach your goals this season. And, starting out with an understanding of your HR zones and how to train within them, in combination with strength and stability work, is your best start!

If you would like to better understand how to take out the “garbage yardage” of your training and start training with purpose and quality, or, if you just need help getting started, email our Outdoor Adventure Coach, Brandyn Roark and she will help you pick out a HR monitor or just teach you which zones you need to train within.

Welcome Outdoor Adventure Coach: Brandyn Roark


Brandyn is a professional XTERRA off road triathlete, cyclist, mountain biker, randonee skier, big mountain skier, adventure racer, and climber. She owns her own coaching business and is a USA swim and cycling coach, Brandyn has traveled the world racing and teaching other athletes and beginners how to be safe, strong and stable as well as have a blast in the mountains!! She has climbed and skied peaks in North America, Europe, and beyond and is looking forward to taking SAC members to their next adventure in the outdoors whether it be their first intro to climbing or just fine tuning their mountain biking skills.

She is also a Mental Health Professional and was a Psycho-Social Rehabilitation specialist for children for 8 years. She was a Nationally Ranked NCAA D1 swimmer and began climbing at the age of 12. Brandyn’s enthusiasm and energy is centered around introducing people from all different backgrounds into the outdoor world…”it’s a HUGE playground out there…we have to go play, explore and create!” She believes that all growth in life happens in the journey, not the outcome…”so make that journey an adventure, try something new, challenge yourself and inspire others to do the same!”

Specialties:
Race Prep | Sports Psychology | Mountain Biking | Backcountry Hikes & Skiing | Mountaineering | Rock Climbing | Paddling & Water Sports | Open Water Swimming

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, look for more great professionally lead programs coming to Seattle Athletic Club Downtown this Summer with Brandyn Roark! To connect to Brandyn, please email her directly at BRoark@sacdt.com.

Seattle Bike to Work Month – Safety and Health Tips

May is Bike to Work Month in Seattle, and to help keep riders as safe as possible during the month we have assembled a few handy tips to keep in mind.

  1. Wear bright clothing. Sometimes a light or reflectors aren’t enough. Make sure to wear a bright coat/shirt, the more visible you are the better for everyone.
  2. Always wear a helmet even when you are only going a short distance. You never know what might happen, and you can’t control what mistakes someone else could make. Plus, it is the law.
  3. Remember your water bottle. You can easily lose track of time on a long flat ride. Make sure to have plenty of hydration before, during, and after. Having a small snack with you is also a great idea.
  4. Keep your eyes peeled. You may ride the same way to work every morning, most of it may be on a bike path. Don’t get lazy, keep your eyes and ears peeled. Safety first people!
  5. Stretch! Sometimes you just look at biking as pure transportation. However it’s first and foremost exercise. Make sure to get some leg swings, hip flexor stretches, low back rotations, chest stretches etc. done before and after a ride. The repetitive motion of biking can cause tightness in your hip flexors, hamstrings, quads etc. Most of us sit too much at our desks already shortening our muscles. Add biking up hills, long distance, etc. into the mix and you have a recipe for injuries.
  6. You are not a car. Stop at lights, stay in the bike lane, use hand signals. Be safe for you and others around you.
  7. Make sure your bike fits you! Take your bike into any local bike shop or stop by the fitness desk and ask Jake Pedersen or our Multisport Coach, Teresa Nelson for tips on fitting bikes.
  8. Always do a walk through of your bike before taking off on a long ride, check the tire pressure, brakes and seat to make sure everything is where it should be.

Handy Links to Official Bike to Work Information – Seattle 2011

The many benefits of indoor cycling

Indoor cycling has many benefits, no matter your outdoor riding experience or fitness level. Whether you are an experienced “roadie,” mountain bike rider, commuter, touring enthusiast, or a beginner, SAC has a wide range of instructors, formats, and class times for you to pick what works best. Indoor cycling is an ensured way of managing your hectic schedules and allow you the proper conditions, coaching, and synergy of fellow riders to improve many things: cardiovascular and strength training, endurance training, proper form and technique to avoid injuries, stress relief, an hour away from your Blackberry or email, meeting new friends, riding with long time riders, a good sweat, and the list goes on and on.

It is the goal of the Cycling program at SAC to both introduce and advance your abilities, no matter your experience, meaning we welcome ALL levels of riding including first time riders! Here are some helpful tips for those that are just considering this as a part of their fitness program and reminder to those already part of the program. First, sign up for a class and alert that instructor that you are new and would like a few minutes to get acquainted with the bikes. Proper set up and seat and handlebar adjustments are an important step in safety but more importantly, for an enjoyable ride. Getting to class a few minutes early to “play” with the settings is always a good idea when first getting started. Once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature to get set up.

Second: come hydrated and “fueled.” About 1-2 hours before class, be sure to start hydrating and have a light snack to ensure you’ll have the fuel to effectively power through class. Bananas, energy bars, oatmeal, bagels, and PB&J’s are all great options. Third, take a few minutes to stretch before class. Our classes are taught at early hours, lunch, and after work, all times that require stretching! And finally, come prepared to have FUN! If you come to class with that mindset, it will most likely happen.

We are fortunate at SAC to have a very solid base of experienced instructors, outdoor cyclists, and long time members of the Indoor Cycling program. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to set your own pace, don’t be afraid to push yourself as you choose. Our goal as instructors is to provide a well-rounded, safe, and challenging format that builds strength and confidence to keep coming back!

As we enter our late Spring and Summer months of longer days, it is our hope we’ll see you in our classes and give you the tools to make your outdoor rides more enjoyable. And for those that don’t like dodging cars, a great work out to make your day and night’s sleep that much more enjoyable.

See you soon in the studio or perhaps on the open road!

Overtraining: Know When to Say “When”

Most SAC members new to exercise may think that their biggest issue to becoming more fit will be getting the motivation to work out more and become more active in general; but in reality a more common problem is the exact opposite… overtraining. Overtraining is when the volume, load, or repetition causes the negative effects (chronic soreness, joint ailments, etc) of exercise to outweigh the positives. This occurs whenever quality of motion is not the priority.

For some reason most gym goers have a set weight, mileage, rep number, or time that they MUST get to achieve their fitness goals. Focusing on such things and disregarding your quality of motion will eventually catch up to you. No matter if it is weight lifting, running, or yoga, too many movements without competent form will have a negative effect on your musculoskeletal system. Executing any movement without biomechanical efficiency will cause one muscle group, or more, to do way more work that it was designed to. If your back is rounded under a barbell back squat your low back will take the brunt of the movement. If you are not landing softly when you run, the bones and muscles in the feet and ankle will pay the price. This will initially cause some soreness from the overworked muscle. Sore muscles are muscles that are dehydrated and unable to lengthen and contract in a flowing manner. Continuing to stress these sore muscles not only promotes improper mechanics but also invites injury. Whatever calorie burn or muscle pump you achieve in that particular workout will be overshadowed by the damage you do to your body.

The brutal irony is that an over trained individual is bound and determined to improve their overall health and they are in fact speeding up the aging process. One of the first images that come to mind when the word “old” is mentioned is a hunched over, stiff and shuffling figure. Unfortunately age isn’t the only contributing factor to this type of appearance. Faulty movements such as poor running and lifting mechanics can “age” the human body past its years. So all the hours spent in the gym in hopes to slow down the hands of time can actually be speeding them up.

The most disconcerting thing about overtraining is an over trained individual is hardly aware of their condition. Here are some clear cut signs that someone is over trained…

1) Chronic Soreness
This is a huge red flag that your posture and movements leave a lot to be desired. “No pain, no gain” holds absolutely no water. Soreness means you lacked the skill and strength to perform your movements competently. Soreness is expected when you switch activities, increase load, or mileage. This shouldn’t be a constant condition.

2) Decrease in Performance
Are your mile times getting slower? Is your bench press going down in weight? The point of training is to increase performance. If you are not progressing in your activity you are just abusing your body. If your performance is lacking continuing to train in the same manner will only worsen the matter.

3) Lack of Energy
Are you plodding through your runs? Do your arms feel like lead when you try and lift your weights? Do you feel wiped out after each workout? If you answered “yes” to any of the above consider yourself over trained.

So before you throw in the towel and quit the gym, take a deep breath and relax. There is hope. Avoiding overtraining is a rather straight forward process. Just follow these three simple rules to recover from and avoid overtraining.

1) GET COACHED
Every mode of exercise deserves respect. There is a reason there are Yoga and Pilates instructors and weight lifting and running coaches. These professionals don’t get credentials for merely participating in their craft for “x” amount of time. They know each movement they teach inside and out. In addition they are capable of transferring that knowledge to a wide variety of clientele. If you aren’t getting the desired effect from your current activities get professional help. A trainer or instructor can make adjustments to technique and programming that can often dig you out of your current training rut.

2) EARN YOUR INTENSITY
Do not just add more weight to your squat just to lift more weight. Add weight only when the current weight you are lifting can be performed with meticulous form. Don’t just add miles to your running route. Only add mileage when you can finish your current distance with some speed and grace. Exercise isn’t about loading up the weight or running farther; it is about mastering your movements and becoming a more efficient moving human being. If the load your lifting compromises your form or if your feel like you are plodding through you current mileage STOP!!! Only advance when you have earned it with skill, poise and power.

3) REST AND RECOVER
The body needs time to recuperate. Though this amount of time will differ from athlete to athlete it is always a must. If you are feeling tired and lethargic take a day or two off. Take that time to foam roll, stretch, get some down time and relax. A fully recovered body can perform at peak levels. Coming back strong in the gym far outweighs plodding through seven days a week of mediocre workouts.

When it comes to our health, most of us would do anything to keep it. Sometimes this creates a drive to do as much as possible all the time, creating an over-trained body feeling chronic soreness, with decreased performance and energy levels. Take a step back and look at your current exercise regime, if you see any or all of these happening try getting a coached, master your form before increasing the load and make sure you give your body ample time to rest and repair itself. If you have any questions please feel free to contact any of the Seattle Athletic Club’s Fitness staff or contact the Fitness Director Jacob Galloway.

What Exactly is V02 Max?

Many of you may have heard the term “V02 max” thrown around when talking about your cardiorespiratory endurance and aerobic fitness, but I’m sure many of you are all wondering the same thing…What exactly is V02 Max and should I get mine tested?

WHAT IS VO2 MAX?
VO2 max is the maximal oxygen uptake or the maximum volume of oxygen that can be utilized in one minute during maximal or exhaustive exercise. It is measured as milliliters of oxygen used in one minute per kilogram of body weight. VO2 max is one factor that can determine a person’s capacity to perform sustained exercise and is linked to aerobic endurance. It is generally considered the best fitness assessment tool available to accurately identify the appropriate training intensities specific to your fitness needs/goals.

HOW IS IT TESTED?
Determining your V02 Max involves a graded exercise test on a treadmill. The test begins at a light intensity and gets slightly harder each minute until you reach near maximum exertion. The subject wears a mask and the volume of air expired along with the percentages of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the expired air are measured. From this, we can determine the following:
■ Peak oxygen consumption
■ Calories burned during exercise at different heart rates
■ Aerobic and Anaerobic Thresholds
■ Target intensity zones

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?
VO2 testing is the best way to measure your cardio fitness and maximize your workout. Each person has a unique optimal training zone. Exercising at different levels of intensity will meet different fitness goals. Some intensities burn more fat, some increase endurance, and some focus on strengthening your heart. As you may know, the calories burned calculated on cardio machines are not known for their accuracy. Some machines are even known to bump up the calorie readout by almost 25%! Furthermore, machines do not always take into consideration all the factors in individual fitness levels and the specificity of the exercise, so relying on these machines to give you an accurate calorie and heart rate count can hold you back from attaining your goals if your not careful. Also, many of the charts you see on exercise equipment displays target heart rate based only on age. V02 max testing measures your precise target heart rate, then calculates your personal target intensity zones and how many calories you burn in each zone. These zones give you the precise heart rates necessary to optimize each level of exercise and maximize your results, so you workout smarter, not harder.

By knowing your V02 Max you will in turn be able to:
■ Burn more fat
■ Maximize your workouts
■ Eliminate training plateaus
■ Decrease fatigue and injury potential

WHO SHOULD TEST THEIR V02 MAX?
Anyone who is looking to lose weight, maximize the potential towards their workouts, improve performance or most importantly, help make fitness goals attainable. Although many individuals would benefit from knowing their V02 max, it is especially valuable for those involved in sports where endurance is an important component in performance, such as:

■ Cycling
■ Rowing
■ Cross-country skiing
■ Swimming
■ Running

With spring approaching quickly and marathon/swimming/cycling season underway, now is the perfect time to maximize your potential and workout smarter, not harder!

Training Outdoors in Cold Weather

The time is here for the weather to change with winter rolling in, and the days getting darker faster. Exercisers can still take their workouts outdoors to beat the winter blues, and stay off the couch. Going outdoors and exercising with the proper gear allows you to get moving around, giving the body a chance to adjust to the changing season and get revved up for the day.

Go prepared

  1. Dress in layers- avoid cotton-use polypropylene & fleece
  2. If you have asthma wear a face mask or scarf
  3. Cover your head 30 to 40% of heat is lost through your head
  4. Use sunscreen to protect skin & lip balm – remember wind chill goes right through you
  5. Keep hands & feet dry, use wool to keep feet and hands warm

Getting Started
Now you are motivated and have your layers on, and skin protected; it’s time for the outdoors.

  1. Try to head into the wind – less likely to get chilled on way back from your exercise.
  2. Drinks fluids before, during, and after – you are sweating so watch out for dehydration.
  3. Use a headlamp not just for your own ability to see, but for others to see you most likely you will be in the dark.

Staying motivated during the winter can be fun, rewarding, and good for cabin fever. You have the knowledge, and fortitude to meet your goals, of staying active not sedentary. For many people winter outdoor exercise is great for solitude, and quiet time.

Training to be the Perfect Athlete

When the word “athletic” comes to mind I envision an individual who is competent in all aspects of fitness (strength, flexibility, endurance, agility and coordination). Though excelling at all of these is a rare and difficult task, being competent in each of them builds an amazing foundation for a healthy and active life.

On the other end of the spectrum, neglecting one or more of these components can be a detriment to your performance and health. Being incredibly strong but inflexible is the cause of many overuse injuries (tendonitis, arthritis, etc). Being flexible and lacking strength can lead to the exact same ailments. Concentrating on endurance alone (i.e.: running or swimming) without a proper base of strength and flexibility will cause hormone imbalances and will wreak havoc on your joints.

Through creating a foundation in all these areas seems difficult, but here at the Seattle Athletic Club we offer a myriad of classes and opportunities to become the “Perfect Athlete”. With a wide variety of group classes, you can easily add several tools to your fitness arsenal with no additional cost. If you want to take things to the next level, any of our highly qualified Personal Fitness Trainers can help you fill in any gaps you may have in your regimen.

Here are a few examples of how to develop each component.
Strength

  • Weight Training
  • Bodyweight Exercises
  • Resistance Bands
  • Yoga
  • Pilates

Flexibility

  • Yoga
  • Band Stretching
  • Pilates
  • Active Range of Motion (Leg swings, etc)

Endurance

  • Running
  • Rowing
  • Swimming
  • Circuit Training
  • Spinning
  • Martial Arts
  • Squash

Agility + Coordination

  • Squash
  • Basketball
  • Jump Rope
  • Olympic Lifting
  • Martial Arts

If you have any questions or want more information please take advantage of our educated staff to help guide you with your fitness needs.

How many cyclist do you know with good posture?

Many Seattleites enjoy the vast terrain of Washington through the means of biking. Weather permitting many people hit the outdoors and enjoy all of its scenery using a road, mountain or on a hybrid bike. While the true enthusiast might brave the Seattle downpour, most people come inside the club and enjoy one of the many different spin classes offered at the club.

One Factor that is constant with all cyclists, indoor and outdoor, is that their posture will start to take a turn for the worst. Having correct posture consists of maintaining a balance in the strength and flexibility of the front side (chest and front deltoids) and back side muscles (rear deltoids, mid traps and upper lats) of the upper body. As we ride any type of bike we maintain a slight or extreme forward lean, sometimes for hours. This forward lean eventually causes a strengthening and tightening of the front side muscles, while never addressing the backside muscles. If this continues without constant stretching and strengthening of the backside muscles a kyphosis or mid back hunch back look will start to form. So now that we cyclists know what the issue is, how do we address it? Some of the great options offered at the club are to take a yoga class and ask them to add a cat and cow sequence to their class. This sequence is performed by getting onto your hands and knees and alternately depressing your chest as far as possible (cow) and then pushing your shoulder blades as far upward and apart as possible (cat). Another possible rehab solution would be to try pilates, where everything involves lengthening the spine and strengthening the core. If these are not addressing the posture problem then you could always get a personal fitness trainer to make a rehab workout to strengthen all the backside and core muscles as well as show you upper body stretches.

Cycling should be a fun and enjoyable sport that we can enjoy both indoor and outdoor until we are in our later years; in order to keep it that way and not create muscle imbalance problems for ourselves, we need to make sure that we stretch our chest and strengthen our back muscles as often as possible. If we keep our posture safe, we keep all of our daily activities safe and enjoyable.

Easy Outside Workout Tips

The sun is finally out and you are bursting at the seams to get out there and exercise. But you are torn because you don’t want to give up your weightlifting hour, or your time on the elliptical but you aren’t a runner and walking doesn’t really seem like much of a workout. But it’s Seattle, there is finally Vitamin D to absorb and you are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Well I have the answer for you, it’s called HILLS!

You can walk/run/bike/lunge/skip/go backwards up any hill and if you push yourself with speed or by wearing a weight vest I can assure you it will be a workout. Find the hilliest part of your neighborhood. Find a new area of town you want to see (a hilly one of course) and start at the bottom and work your way up. I personally enjoy hill repeats on a nice sunny day. If I don’t feel like putting miles in running I will simply find a steep incline or a mildly long incline and run up it. If it’s short I’ll do it 10-20 times if it’s long or I’m going up two or more blocks I might only do 5-10 repeats. The goal is always to keep moving, the down is the rest so enjoy it while it lasts. As soon as you get back to the bottom it’s time to sprint/walk/ride etc back up again.

If this sounds like fun but you are looking for a little more diversity try adding in stairs to your workout. Queen Anne has TONS of them (as do MANY other areas of town), add them to a run, add them to a walk, just go out and get up some stairs! You can repeat as many times as you like, go as fast or as slow as you like, use your body weight or added weight, whatever strikes your fancy. The goal is to push yourself just like you would in the gym but be able to be outside and enjoy the roses.

Lastly if you don’t feel too weird about being that guy doing squats, push-ups, park bench jumps on your trail run adding in the body weight exercises to your cardio is a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Tired of running/walking and you still have 3 more miles to go? Take a “break” and do 20 squats, 20 push-ups, 20 floor to ceilings, and or 20 tuck jumps. Take the gym outside and enjoy our few months sunshine!