Thursday, December 13, 2007

Squats for Cyclists

Being an engineering student, time is a resource I would die to get more of. Having said that, when going to the gym, all I want to look for is some of the best and most efficient exercises that will get my job done, without spending unnecessary time. What job?

In an earlier post, I talked about the muscles a cyclist uses to pedal.
And what is a more beautiful exercise to build up those muscles than the age old classic squat. Simply a king among exercises, it is especially nice for cyclists because :

1. It is inherently a compound exercise, bringing into play a number of big and important muscle groups such as those on the lower back, knee and thighs. Without any external form of support, your stabilizers and your core get a real workout. Especially those glutes man! Think about it, chimpanzees have underdeveloped gluteal muscles. Do you want to look like a bike racer or a chimpanzee?

2. It works the cardio system by developing thoracic expansion and respiratory capacity.

The efficacy of squats in the rest room and during birth (classic style) have also been observed.

The squat is a top exercise to do during the strength phase of the periodization cycle. What I typically do is to select a weight I can lift 15-20 reps on (40-60% 1 Rep Max) and then do 2-3 reps, controlling my form, breathing and my speed of movement the whole time. I visualize how I ride my bike then, how my thighs move through the range of motion while pedaling and try and imitate that same form.

Toward the end of the strength phase, I'll bring the weights up by 20-30% to favor adaptation. Then I'll plan on doing higher intensity workouts on my bike after that to put that gained strength into actual application.

With all this said, I simply think the squat is becoming a forgotten exercise. I also feel this simple movement is becoming extinct in our daily activities. Since the marketing of the most comfortable chairs, the European toilet bowl/seat system, and other technological unnecessities to make one perform lesser and lesser work by the day, the squat is slowly being flushed down the toilet (excuse the pun). We are becoming more lazier and our bodies are turning into a rigid and stubborn package of muscle and bone.

Now we have the luxury of performing this only in the setting of a gym.

While you zoom in and read (using an image viewer), pay attention to the orange highlighted text at the bottom of the second page on how to create a BLOCK

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