i view much of the training literature available in a somewhat detached manner; while i find it necessary to train in order to keep mind and body in some semblance of order, i really have no need of powermeters, heart rate monitors and fartlek for any serious reason. however, i have always been quite fascinated by the number of interviews read where the cyclist concerned lists weight training and hours in the gym as part of at least the winter training regime. isn't weight training just the sort of exercise that's likely to lead to emulation of schworlnold arzenegger? for those who have diligently watched the high road, you cannot fail to recollect seeing a decidedly skin and bone robert millar sitting in the back of a team car after a particularly heavy day in the french mountains. one tends to think that robert, perhaps, did not subscribe to a weight training regime.
however, if we assume that i wish to become more of a well rounded athlete than my mirror already hopes i am, is weight training something i should be seriously considering? it's a question that should perhaps be viewed in a similar light to the training undertaken by many a triathlete. i'm sure if there are any of such reading at present, you can exclude yourselves from the following indictment, but my casual observations lead me to believe that many a triathlete excels at swimming or maybe running, while the weak link in their aspiration is cycling. but rather than work conscientiously at improving in said discipline, where improvement could conceivably be measured in minutes, they prefer to slog away at the other two where mere seconds are on offer.
and similar criticism may be levelled at cyclists who ignore the benefits of weight training: if i have any spare time, i'd far rather be off out on the bike than trapped inside a small room atop our local leisure centre, pushing weighted bits up and down with my shaven legs and lifting rods of steel that get heavier at each end. that, however, is confusing recreation with real training; as i said, i have rather excluded myself from this argument, but this is all hypothetically true.
the velopress release, now in its second edition is the very book for me. granted, i find the first four or five chapters a tad on the explanatory side: the basics; the weight room; program information; program design - all this before we even get to stretching for flexibility. this is akin to buying a new digital camera and being eager to take pictures rather than reading the 432 page manual that will only make you feel inadequate to take photos at all. such is the content of these initial chapters: i wanted to see the exercises that would turn me into sir chris, not to discuss the pros and cons of periodization
however, i am being monstrously unkind to the authors here: if i was serious about including weight training into my overall regime, much of the information provided in chapters 1 - 5 is there to make sure that i know what i'm doing, and why i'm doing it.
there is always the concern that your local gym may not be able to provide the necessary equipment or weights that the progressive cyclist requires, and it would have been nice if the authors had included a basic list of weights that could be purchased for home use should that be the case. granted, flying solo with weights may not be the ideal situation, considering how much damage it is possible to do through ignorance, but unlike the united states, from whence this book originated, there is many a rural enclave that is a considerable distance from the nearest fitness centre. however, in this case, all is not lost.
the volume is superbly illustrated with many line drawings showing a remarkable number of exercises in which it would seem that weights are unrequired. many of said exercises pertain to stretching, core strength (which has its very own chapter) and general body strength. the few that i have had the temerity to try in the safety of my own living room seemed destined to tone and strengthen this vegetarian powerhouse if continued for a modest length of time. in fact, despite my earler protestations that i have no need of such assistance with my physique (i may be the only one who believes that), i am suitably encouraged to continue with one or two hand picked line drawings when my busy schedule allows.
chapter eleven concerns itself entirely with a sample training plan - maybe it's such rigorous organisation that pushes me away - which it seems would easily lend itself to a bit of jiggery pokery on behalf of whomsoever deemed it necessary. weight training cannot be all things to all cyclists. if you are in the situation where your cycling is competitively involved, it makes a great deal of sense (now that i've read the book) to attempt to incorporate weight training into the methods you already employ. if you're just starting out on the lengthy path of pain and suffering, this really is a very good tome with which to start: the authors are not preachy, though initially they may be a mite long-winded, the exercises are very easy to follow, and the text is as laid-back as such subject matter is keen to allow.
posted on friday 13 february 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................