can I do cardio later

There is a big mis-conception of doing cardio and weight loss.

I have heard and seen in videos people saying that they can eat something now, and it will not matter, as long as they do cardio later.

While on the one hand there is some truth to this – let’s look more at what this really means.

Many people believe that what calories they burn while on a cardio machine. There are several problems with this.
A: That number is highly inaccurate due to variances of muscle, age, height, bodyfat and metabolism of each individual.
B: The number of calories comes from stored muscle glycogen for the first 45 minutes of exercise.
C: all calories are NOT equal!

Body fat is created when eating foods that raise your blood sugar levels while you are NOT exercising – in other words if you eat sugar while exercising or immediately after, that sugar goes mainly to the muscles as energy.

It takes up to 2 hours for the food that you eat to reach your blood stream.

When someone eats that piece of bread, dessert, the sweetened tea, pasta, etc. then the body ends up storing that extra food/energy as body fat.

The problem with they way that some people think about this is that eating an extra 100 calories of pasta would equal doing an extra 100 calories worth of time on an elliptical machine. But this is not created equal.

In order to actually start to burn off that body fat – using an treadmill/elliptical/rowing machine, you must first get past the 45 minute mark for the fat burning to kick-in.

So, now that you realize this – is that sweet tea/bread before dinner/ dessert worth that extra time required to burn it off? Only you can be the judge of that. But I hope at least now you have a more accurate realization of what it truly means and why this makes it so hard to ‘cheat’ and still get 6 pack abs.

Bike crash injury

I crashed. I was going too fast and there were acorns and lots of leaves on the ground. I hit hard.

I went Mt biking with some buddies today. I slowed down at an intersection to make sure everyone was together and 2 of the guys passed me – suddenly I was playing catch-up. I went into a berm with more speed than usual, ended up high on the berm, I overshot the exit and the front wheel landed on leaves. The front wheel immediately folded out from under me and next thing I knew, I was rolling off the trail so that I wouldn’t get run over by the guy behind me. It happened that fast.

If you have not crashed, your not going fast enough…. or something like that.

I went down on my left side and had pain in my left knee. The guys stopped and waited as I figured out whether or not it was serious. I finally got up gingerly and slowly got back on the bike, and continued the ride. The knee was sore, but I pushed on…. I was riding the Jamis SS so I had to mash and stand often. My knee wasn’t very Happy, but I was enjoying the ride. After we finished an easier loop we moved onto another trail.

After transferring over to this other section my knee felt like it had hot-spots. I pulled down my knee warmer, which revealed a purple knee cap and being October, I don’t exactly have a tan. I could see where the skin had taken some abrasion. I was now figuring that I needed to take it easier than I was and attempt to spin my way out of the woods if possible.

I solo hiked & biked my way back to the parking lot and threw down some advil. Once home, I elevated and put a bag of frozen broccoli on the knee cap. Hours later and there was serious swelling and I could barely bend my knee past a 90 degree angle. This was probably my fault.

Things I did wrong
I should have realized how hard the impact was that my knee was going to swell and be sore. More riding was not going to ‘loosen it up’. In fact, all it probably did was aggravate it even more. Being on a Single Speed wasn’t helping either.

Things I did correctly
Once I realized that it was worse that I initially thought, I attempted to get back quickly and not make things any worse, and then took take advil in hopes of suppressing any swelling.
Elevate the leg and start 15 minute periods of icing the knee.

After a couple days of the knee starting to feel better, I checked to see what was restricting my range of motion. Well, where I was feeling the pressure was not in the joint itself, but coming from the muscle.
I started massaging the muscles around the knee and found some tight spots that were fairly tender. SO, I pulled out my good old foam roller and started to roll out my inside knee. I did some searching for those main spots that were so tender, and put some slight pressure on them until they slowly released.

Almost immediately, I noticed improvement in range of motion and less pain.

After a week of doing this, the knee joint itself feels good – no pain through full range of motion.
The inside and just above the knee muscle seems to be quite swollen – I’m continuing to take Advil, apply ice and elevate.

Exercise Risk versus Reward

I know of a exercise regime that has people doing many things that are challenging exercises, however, one of the main things is that the routine doesn’t pay any attention to the Risk vs. Reward factor of exercise. And as such I found out that many people were getting injured doing the workouts.
And as an athlete “The Number 1 way to Improve, is to NOT get Injured”

Let me explain what I mean. The simple fact is there are more basic exercises that you can get as much benefit (if not more) and a fraction of the risk involved in performing them.

Some examples of low risk, high reward plyometric exercises are:

1) jumping rope.
2) squat jumps.
3) side to side hops over cones.

Some examples of High Risk with little reward are:
1) Anything involving standing on a stability ball. I’ve done it, but each time I let out a sigh after being finished – b/c I didn’t get injured. Sure, it’s a cool looking exercise, and people may stop to watch you, but the risk involved during, and finishing the exercise is way too high for any benefit that you would get from doing it.

I heard that Juan Carlos Santana tore an ACL getting off a ball at a seminar – that was enough to make me realize that it was a little risky too do.

2) Increased box size while doing box-jumps. Just because you use a taller box, does not mean that the proportion of benefit from jumping is increased, infact there is an inverse relationship. The taller the box, the less increase in benefit, and the greater increase chance of injury.

For example, if you are doing box-jumps onto a 24″ box, going to a 36″ box is going to barely increase the body’s ability to create more power, however, there is a much greater risk involved.

3) Using ‘the smith machine’ to do squats. I understand the reason people use the smith machine to do squats, but what I don’t think that people realize the hidden risks of using the smith machine. The risks are that:

A) you are loading lots of weight onto the back of your neck, and then attempting to squat that weight, during the course of doing this, you are likely to cheat in any way possible to raise that weight – pushing your neck further into the smith machine.

B) If you have bad mechanics while squatting & then add much weight to the squat (again, on the back of the neck), then the bad mechanics are going to be magnified – and at some point cause an injury.

Want a better exercise that will still challenge most athletes – Single Leg Squats! You don’t have to double the load on your neck, to double the load on each leg, just use 1 leg and your bodyweight.

Another difference is unlike basketball or volleyball, where the power creation may have to come from different muscle length during the course of an event, for cycling, the legs power creation goes through the same cycle (no pun intended, but hopefully appreciated) either seated or standing. So, because the pedal is attached to a crank-arm, your foot is going to do the same circle for every revolution of that crank.

Therefore, we use Plyometrics so that the Power Creation uses a similar muscle length tension relationship of squatting low and jumping, then landing back in a similar squat, then immediately jumping again.

Now before you race to the gym or the basement to hammer out a plyometric workout, please read this first and keep in mind that a risky exercise does not mean it has the most reward!
The biggest reward is to stay injury free.

cyclists knee pain

Knee pain is awful! Back in 1999, mine was so bad that I had to take about 6 months off the bike…. and during that time I visited several different people from different fields of health care while I was attempting to figure out why I was having such intense pain.

I didn’t have a traumatic accident, I had just raced the weekend before, on Monday I rode around on the Mt bike with some friends, did my usual Tuesday evening intown Atlanta slug-fest & on Wednesday…..BAM! I couldn’t even ride to the ride. I had to turn around and pedal home with one leg, it was that painful. I went 6 months without riding at all.

I went to Physical Therapist, and then a knee doctor who said he could A) give me a cortisone shot, B) cut my IT band, or C) let me take the Homeopathic route….. which also meant ‘figure that out on your own’. I was confused & didn’t know where to go next for help.

Finally after Spring came around someone suggested I see a chiropractor, let’s call her Dr. Sukie. She checked out my leg & suggested that I get a massage. I steadily got massages once a week for two months and my knee slowly got less painful & less noticeable when going up and finally when going down stairs.

I started to get back out on the bike & I was very thankful to be once again cycling. I was over-weight and of course, slow – but I didn’t have any knee pain!

Later, I learned about foam rollers and doing Myofascial release on them. It is basically a self-massage that you can do most anywhere.
check out the guide on myofascial release guide.

Now when someone tells me they have knee pain or tendinitis, I can almost immediately tell them where the pain is coming from and how to do myofascial release to get rid of it!

Cycling Strength

The main purpose of Cycling strength is the ability to recruit more muscle fibers when necessary.
But normal cycling does not cause this to happen. 1) The body subconsciously attempts to do everything as easily as possible, to conserve energy. 2) Cycling in nature is an endurance sport. 3) to race well, you must A) conserve energy sometimes and at others either maintain or expend tremendous amounts of energy.

The body has an inherent desire to do something as easily as possible, in essence you body naturally wants to cheat. Something to do with caveman instincts. Gotta do something? Your body tries to use as little muscle as possible to do it, thus saving muscle strength for later. The problem for cyclists is that at some points, you will want as much muscle fiber recruitment as possible – whether that is for the decisive attack to be in the break, the final sprint of a race, or just the sprint to avoid stopping before a light turns red. Each of these actions will be better performed if your body is able to recruit more muscle fibers to do the work.

Cycling strength is created in 2 main ways: 1) Gym workouts 2) Training in the Mountains or Hill Repeats.
To do this you must overload the muscle fibers that your body is currently recruiting. 1 of the simplest ways to do this is a basic ‘Wall Sit’.

To do a Wall Sit, put your back up against a wall and slide down into a sitting position (thighs parallel with the ground). Your Knees and Hips should each be at a 90 degree angle. Your hips, knees, and ankles should all be the same width apart.

Use your heels to press your hips, shoulders and head into the wall. Within about 30 seconds you should feel areas of your quads start to quiver as they tire out, keep holding because this is what will cause other muscles to be engaged to do the necessary work. This is the start of greater muscle recruitment.
At first 30 seconds of this exercise may seem like an hour, but as you progress with this exercise you should get up to doing a minute each set.

As my clients have been progressing, then we will do the wall-sit and do a weighted goblet squat almost immediately after.
This is a way of tiring out the legs, then challenging them to push even harder in a functional way to stimulate muscle strength. It sucks, but it makes Pistons out of your legs!

Want even more detailed info about strength training, sign up for my monthly newsletter (in the upper right corner) that gives more insight into the workouts we do and a free workout plan.


1 of the most dreaded things to a cyclist is getting CRAMPS: it sucks, and once they start there is usually not much you can do during one.

Just what is going on when you get a cramp? The exact cause of muscle cramps is still unknown, but the theories most commonly cited include:

* Altered neuromuscular control
* Dehydration
* Electrolyte depletion
* Poor conditioning
* Muscle fatigue – doing more than usual at a certain activity
* Doing a new activity

But first, let’s try to avoid them!
To aid in avoiding cramps I will add a little sea salt the day before and the day of an event.
Because I have experienced some leg cramping before on fast rides before, I will also take some electrolytes the day of an event. If the ride is going to be more than 4 hours, I will usually take extra electrolytes during the ride.

When I feel those first little twinges, of an upcoming cramp, I have ‘delayed’ them by pouring water on the area that I feel the cramps starting. Maybe it is a placebo effect, but it seems to help some.

During a cramp there isn’t much you can do other than avoid making it worse and try to stretch out the cramping muscle. Ask anyone that has had them before and it sucks!
Once I start cramping, it is usually a sign that the body is not getting enough nutrients and I will try to get in more calories quick!

Cramps usually go away on their own without treatment, but these tips appear to help speed the relaxing of the muscle:
* Stop the activity that caused the cramp (as if you have a choice).
* Gently stretch and massage the cramping muscle.
* Hold the joint in a stretched position until the cramp stops.

After cramping I try to stretch as much as possible before getting in the car, then do more flexibility work by using a foam roller once I get home. The compression will help loosen the tight muscles allowing more blood flow and nutrients to reach the muscles and flush out toxins that are by-products of the activity.

Why knees are painful

I got weak knees.
– Really?
Yes, if I’m not careful they hurt.
– You knees hurt because your knees are weak?

This may not always be the case for everyone, in fact really it is the tight leg muscles that equal knee pain! As long as your knee pain is not from trauma, such as an accident, then it is from tight muscles and muscle imbalances.

If muscles are too tight and weak, then you may feel pain in your knees, the cause can be doing activities out of the ordinary for your body, an increase in activity, or overly used leg muscles (repetitive movements, such as cycling and running). How many pedal strokes per mile? We will figure you pedal with an average cadence of 90 RPM’s and you ride 20 miles in an hour – a good average speed. 90 revolutions X 60 minutes = 5,400 revolutions of EACH leg for each hour of cycling. How many hours does it take you to do your longest ride – how long do you take to stretch and assist your muscles in recovery afterward? (beer does not count here!)

Remember the quads and hamstrings have many tendons that hold the knee together. Often times when these muscles get too tight they pull on the tendons. Think of your muscles as rubber bands and your tendons as strings – as you pedal the rubber bands can stretch and come back easily, but as the rubber band tightens they then pull on the strings which can not stretch. This in turn causes friction in the joint, which causes pain.

photo by Jay Bergesen

The best cure for this is NOT to mask the pain with BenGay, cortisone shots, knee braces – but to loosen up the tight muscles that are actually causing the tightness. Muscle length tension relationships are essential to muscle recruitment, meaning that if your muscles are too tight then that muscle is not firing on all cylinders and you are not performing at your optimal.

The tighter a muscle becomes, the more inactive it tries to be, causing other muscles to engage more to compensate. When this happens the chance of an injury occurring is increased. Injuries take months to recovery from. So, what is the number 1 way to keep improving in any sport? Prevent injury!

Stretching, massage, and self myofascial release are ways to prevent this from happening.
Massage and myofascial release are the best ways to loosen up tight muscles and stop the pain.
Check out my increased Flexibility program.