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Instructor at LA Fitness since 2004

The Breathing While Riding

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A) B) A) B)
There are many instructors who are inhibiting their students’ potential performance, comfort and recovery by coaching them to “hold the abs in.” I have sent an email message before and also posted in my website the reasons why not to hold the abs in. Diaphragmatic breathing techniques that athletes of all endurance sports are taught.
Learn the mechanics of breathing and how a cyclist (and indoor cyclist) should breathe for optimal performance. It seems like such a simple thing, but there are many misconceptions about holding in the core while cycling.
You see the cyclists have their mouth open and even tongue sticking out during the race. Though it appears strange to most of us, it is a good technique to take as much air as you can which most of the professional cyclists do. While yoga or some other sports activities allow you to hold abs and breathe in, it is impossible for the cyclists to do.
With diaphragmatic breathing, internal organs are pushed down and make a room for lungs to expand and take up as much air as it can. Expanding belly does not mean that you let your core go. The proper posture remains the same, no sagging shoulders, There’s a slight pressure in front of the saddle, but do not concern too much about that feeling. You know when it happens but you don’t have to look for it.
So, if anyone tells you to hold your abs tight, or pulling belly button in, just ignore that comments and let the belly expand as you inhale.
You have seen my drawings of diaphragmatic breathing (inhale/exhale) before, but the above is another picture you can refer to.

A) Diaphragm on inhalation -parachute is inverted
The parachute descends into the abdominal cavity, making more room in and the chest for oxygen and pushing contents of the abdomen along the way.
B) Diaphragm on exhalation -parachute going upward
The parachute floats upward into the chest cavity, pulling the abdominal wall with it.

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How About Resistance

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How About Resistance
Let’s talk about resistance. Since we use Keiser bikes at our club, I focused on that model of the bike. SPINNING bikes use gear knob.
Coaching resistance on specific gear is the most common ineffectual method. After years of indoor cycling existence, I’m surprised to find many instructors who still use this technique.
The problem number one: Coaching with specific gears doesn’t teach you to add resistance based on
1) The intensity criteria for the ride, (I say, “Your legs being challenged!” do you remember this?)
2) The terrain (feel the hill! We are going up the steep hill), and cadence guidelines (90 to 100 rpm),
3) The physical sensations such as muscular, cardiovascular, breath, etc. (you remember that I say something like, “you are breathing hard but not breathless! Or, “we are going to be breathless here!”
If you are told specific gear to use, you would never learn how to be the driver of your own intensity. You don’t want to just sit on the bike and move the resistance lever to the given number. You want to do your part of workout and find out on your own where you need to be (if the instructor gives you the specific purpose of the ride, or terrain).
Some longtime students may know to ignore this type of cueing because they recognize it isn’t helpful, but the new riders or those who take every word the instructor says as ultimate may be lost without knowing a specific gear number.
I’ve subbed classes covering different instructors. Believe or not, after I’ve explained what I want them to feel, I’ve had someone look up and say, “Which gear do I use?” I repeat how it goes, but she or he looks puzzled. I am sure that this person was lost throughout the class and unhappy. The worst part was that I was only subbing the class and had no chance to coach this individual properly. Training does not happen overnight and it takes time for students to get it… sometimes.
Too little or too much resistance
As a result of the misguided cue, you may end up having too little resistance, which can translate to reduced power output. This means you aren’t working as hard as you could and leads to fewer calories consumed over the course of the class. While I really dislike focusing on calories, that’s what is driving many of the typical cycling class participants.
On the other hand, coaching by specific gear can lead to more resistance than you can or should handle or not enough gear (depending on individual). This may result in a knee or back injury due to the heavy strain, or not working out hard enough. Without guidance, they may think that’s the way it’s supposed to feel…. (pain on knees).
Each person is different
Mary weighs 120 pounds. Bob weighs 200 pounds. Would you give them the same weight in the gym for a biceps curl? Of course not. That’s what you are doing when you are asked for the same gear.
Age can be a factor. 68-year-old rider might reach breathlessness in a few turns, whereas 28-year-old might still be able to talk in full sentences after having the same gear. Or, you may be a super fit 60-year-old who can ride that 28-year-young person.





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Bicycling Hip Pain

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As with any sport, there's a degree of risk for injury involved with cycling. Endurance sports, such as cycling and running, require repetitive motions over a long period. This can lead to overuse injuries if body alignment or movement is even slightly off. Possible causes of hip pain in cyclists include bursitis, snapping hip syndrome, piriformis syndrome, etc. If your hip pain worsens or doesn't go away, see your doctor for treatment.
Causes and Prevention
As a fitness instructor or a personal trainer, the suggestions will limit within that range. But, the causes of cycling hip injuries are usually similar and involve over-training and muscular imbalances. For example, piriformis syndrome is caused by overuse of the glutes, which results in a weak, tight piriformis muscle that causes sciatica.

To avoid such problems, warm up and stretch your hip flexors. The resistance training exercises are recommended also, but you are already doing it.

And have your bike professionally fitted to make sure there aren't any issues with your posture. We can look into this area together make sure that your bike is set correctly. If you are in my class, please let me know.
If you fail to strengthen your hip flexors adequately, serious injuries can result. One risk is that other muscle groups that complement the action of the hip flexors -- such as your glutes -- will be overworked, which puts them at risk for pulls and strains. Additionally, lack of strength and flexibility in your hip flexors may promote an increased risk of hamstring strain, lower back pain and even hip bursitis. If you suspect you have any of these issues, seek professional medical attention.
Stretch your hips. Stretching your hips can help alleviate hip flexor pain and keep it from re-occurring. Perform a standing hip flexor stretch. Stand up straight with your feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart. Your knees should be straight but not locked. Stand beside a table or chair for support. Slowly lift the knee of the affected leg off the ground and as high in the air as you can comfortably go. Keep your back straight and tighten your hip muscles as you perform this stretch. Hold this position for a count of 2 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times, twice a day.
1. You can look at this as either an issue of set up of the bike or something underlying your own health.

The 'Q factor' may not be the source of your problems, and pedal extenders a limited benefit. It would perhaps be better if you look over the set up of your bike first.
2. And when you next ride take note of any overreach, hunching, wobbling of the hips when pedaling, rocking of your head, any other eccentric motions that may be contributing to your grief. Perhaps having someone along for the ride as an observer can help.

3. Overcompensation of injured are can cause pain around no injured area we won't be looking directly at the left hip issues as this just a symptom of other problems. But, the actual cause of your right or left hip pain may not necessarily be an injury in your right or left hip.

So if you have such a symptom either it is the set up of your bike or the latter you might consider professional help.
Types of Stationary Bike Injuries
Indoor cycling has become a popular class found at clubs and studios everywhere these days. Indoor cycling offers an intense cardiovascular workout and can burn 400 to 500 calories in a 45- to 60-minute session. It is low impact, and you can work at your own level and build up to a more challenging routine. However, like any activity, if you do it improperly, too often or too vigorously, it can cause injuries. Your knees, hips and back are the most prone to injury while cycling indoors. It is commonsense not to start with heavy gear or too fast without adequate warm up even you are instructed to do otherwise by an incompetent instructor or personal trainer.


Knee Injuries
Due to the repetitive motion of cycling, injuries to the knees can occur in an indoor cycling class. This can be caused by overuse or not setting the seat correctly. When pedaling, set the seat height so that you have a slight bend in the knee when your foot and the pedal is at the bottom position. In addition, the seat should be forward enough so that your knee is over the center of the pedal. An improper bike setup and riding form can lead to tendons and ligaments becoming overstretched, pulled or tight. A common injury is patellar tendinitis, which is a chronic inflammation of the tendon that connects your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone.
Hip Injuries
Too much cycling and improper bike use can also cause problems in the hips. The repetitive forward motion of cycling can cause the piriformis muscle to become tight. This can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. In addition, since cycling is primarily a forward motion, the inner and outer thigh muscles can become weak and deconditioned, which leads to a muscular imbalance. You may develop pain in the buttocks, and it may radiate down to the hips and legs.
Back Injuries
Using improper posture while cycling indoors, such as leaning forward, hunching the shoulders and leaning too far from side to side, can cause the back muscles to become strained. The tendons and ligaments can be irritated, and there may be pressure on the disks. In addition, the back muscles can tighten. All of the situations can eventually lead to chronic back pain.
Wrist Injuries
Since indoor cycling is such an intense workout, you can become tired and may tend to lean too heavily on the handlebars, which can strain the wrists. Focus on letting your legs and abdominal muscles hold you up. Keep your wrists straight, and avoid excessive bending, which can place pressure on the nerves in the wrist. Place as little weight as possible on your wrists and hands when riding. If the wrists become injured, they may be painful, or you may experience numbness or tingling sensations in the wrist, hands or fingers.
See also carpal tunnel syndrome article
Prevention/Solution
Indoor cycling injuries can be avoided. Check with your instructor to make sure you are setting up your bike correctly. Stretch your leg and back muscles after every ride. In addition, cross training with other cardiovascular activities will cut down on your risk of the above overuse problems. Adding in strength training exercises for the legs and core muscles will help you avoid muscular imbalances and help you to ride properly.

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Blood Pooling

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When you exercising, your heart is pumping large amount of blood to the working muscles. This blood is carrying both oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and then returns to the heart for oxygen. However, when the exercise stops, so does the force that pushes the blood back to the heart. If you don't cool down lactic acid stays in the muscles, which in turn causes swelling and pain. This is known as 'blood pooling" Cooling down keeps the blood circulating, which in turn helps to prevent blood pooling and also removes waste products from the muscles.

Exercise causes an increase in cardiac output. This increase in cardiac output is necessitated by the active muscles need for oxygenated blood, and lots of it. For large amount of blood to be circulated to the active tissue, an equally large amount of blodd must be returned. Blood polling can occur with rapid cessation of exercise due to an inadequate amount of blood returning to the heart.

Venous Return and the Muscle Pump
During exercise, your muscles aid the amount of blood returned to the heart by contacting with more force around the blood vessels. This causes the blood to easily resist the forces of gravity and return quickly to the heart for re-oxygenation and re-circulation. When you stop exercising quickly, the muscles are no longer contracting against your blood vessels – gravity causes the blood to pool in the lower extremities. When this occurs, you may feel faint or dizzy or exercise a loss of consciousness.

Cool Down
The purpose of a brief cool-down after cardiovascular exercise is to slowly return your heart to its resting state. By slowly bringing your heart rate back down, you can avoid blood pooling in the lower extremities because the muscles of your legs are still contracting and contributing to venous return. A cool-down also helps to avoid rapid changes in blood pressure. Always engage in a five to 10 minutes cool-down.


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Carpal Tunnel Syndrom

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Carpal Tunnel Syndrom
Carpal tunnel is very common, aggravation of underlying arthritis and tendinitis and sometimes cartilage tears
While the cause may be various, I’m referring to cycling, specifically “Indoor cycling”.
Cycling is perhaps the best aerobic sport there is. Just make sure to do it correctly to avoid trouble.
Remember that carpal tunnel? It won't get irritated and swollen if you use the right hand position.
Don't cock up the wrist through the whole class.
Keep the wrists straight and change positions on the handle bars especially if you are sitting for a long time.
If the handle bars are too far, it means uncomfortable stretching. If too close it cocks up the wrists unnaturally.
Put more weight on your butt than your hands, no death grips even with that pulsing beat.
Use your core muscles to keep weight off your hands. Always the core muscles, because that's where your leg strength comes from
If you have a habit of placing your hands on top end of the handle bars, make sure that your wrists are not cocked nor putting your body weight there. If you can correct that habit, try to grab handles from outside. (hook grip) If it is too late to change, keep your body not to fall forward.

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Hips Problem and more

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Too much cycling and improper bike use can also cause problems in the hips. The repetitive forward motion of cycling can cause the piriformis muscle to become tight. This can put pressure on the sciatic nerve. In addition, since cycling is primarily a forward motion, the inner and outer thigh muscles can become weak and deconditioned, which leads to a muscular imbalance. You may develop pain in the buttocks, and it may radiate down to the hips and legs.
This muscle imbalance is something everybody owe to know but not isolated case of indoor cycling.
If you think that you are working on muscles evenly and there’s no muscular imbalance to be considered, work on stretches. Stretch your hip flexors.
Lack of strength and flexibility in your hip flexors may promote an increased risk of hamstring strain, lower back pain and even hip bursitis.
Many injuries may be result from a muscular imbalance, inadequate warm up or cooldown.
Everybody always wants to get to the main dish without starting with an appetizer…. Gradually getting into the main course. And, even if they did, they want to skip the last of the course by setting your stomach properly.
Regardless who is instruct, it is mindless to follow anybody who instruct the class to start working hard within 5 minutes into the class. Someone just mentioned to me that one of the instructors told the class to go with heavy gear as soon as the class started. (Keiser M3 bike) To my surprise, many of them followed and later complained. And, somebody else said that another instructor who tells the class to go gear 20 and up in less than 10 or 15 minutes into the class. (again Keiser M3 bike). I guess these people followed instructor. The strange thing is that everybody knows and this is pretty standard that we all need to warm up gradually and get ourselves ready for the hard work. Unfortunately, many people go by THE TOTAL CALORIE burn instead of focusing on their fitness level. You are not in better shape just because you burned more calories. What you are missing is that you could have achieved higher level if you have done it properly. If you had 60 minutes to workout and skipped warm up and cooldown, of course, your total calorie burn is going to be higher, but this does not mean that you are in better shape than those who followed properly.
Oh, well….. there is so much you can say….
I was going to put this in my blog, but I might as well send to everybody hoping one more person who have better understanding.


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CONTRAINDICATED MOVEMENTS - INDOOR CYCLING

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CONTRAINDICATED MOVEMENTS – REMINDER!!
I have mentioned this to you before and many of you are familiar with this. So, this is just a reminder since these movements are constantly introduced. I just encountered the following short article and thought I should share it with you. The article is in black ink, my comments are in purple.
The movement is usually contraindicated and many times the participant is asking because they experienced pain or an awkwardness but they didn’t want to be the only person in class not doing it.
Here is a very short list of contraindications that should never be part of any indoor cycling class:
• Floats, isolations (there are many names for this)–holding your body still puts all the force generated from pedaling to be absorbed by the joints, which leads to hip, knee and back pain. This also inhibits a participant’s ability to put a good amount of force on the pedals, which results in a lower power output and reduced calorie burn. Crank arms are not meant to stand on them. You are supposed to be pedaling. Isolations are also bad for your knees not mentioning you’re not achieving anything. This is not too much different from those people who remove saddles so that they are forced to stay off the saddle. Awkward movements and positions put you in certain stress, but don’t think you are improving your fitness level. You may be going toward joining circus.

• Riding with weights–When the hands are occupied, safety is compromised. If a rider’s foot comes out of the pedal, they may fall into the handle bars causing injury. In addition, when on the bike the participant is not in a stable position to lift weights with meaning. Cadence and force is compromised. The workout becomes mediocre compromising both cardio and strength training.
• If you want strength training, GET OFF the bike and lift weights.

• Performing pushups on the bike–Just like riding with weights, the focus is taken away from pedal technique. The participant does not get the full benefit of performing the push up and not being in a stable position is a risk for injury. I am not too concern about injury so much, but pushups is to be done against gravity not with it. Why anybody bother bending over and think you are doing something to your abs. Leave the pushups for the resistance training classes.

• Pedaling backwards–Sometimes while standing up, one handed. (What!) I don’t know the benefit of this, other than making me laugh when I picture someone doing that. Safety is greatly compromised. I have seen people doing punching crosses while they are sitting down. I’m not sure if their legs were moving or not. I guess they were not too concern if they were pedaling or not. Sitting down on the bike and cross punches must have felt comfortable as they were not doing much. They were wearing cycling shoes, though. What a waste!!
People who take those classes may become an instructor one day which happens all the time. If this person does not take the time to learn on his or her own, the same contraindicated movements will be introduced in the class. They are like weeds…. Keep coming out.

I don’t know why contraindicated movements end up in an instructor’s repertoire. I don’t believe any instructor deliberately intends to put their participants at risk for injury. I think ultimately they intend to deliver the program correctly but sometimes just lose their way or give in to the pressure imposed by uninformed participants who think these moves are fun and challenging. Participants trust instructors to lead them through a workout that will help them improve or maintain their fitness. They expect that when an instructor teaches a specific movement, that it has a benefit and more importantly they will be safe doing it. Being an instructor is a privileged position. Instructors should take care to always ensure the participants safety. Indoor cycling is just that, cycling. One of its greatest features is its simplicity. You may be out of saddle more frequently than you would riding outside. But, the whole idea is that anyone can get on the bike, at any level, and get a great workout. Doing all the crazy stuff takes away from the simplicity of a great workout. So why do it? I am forever asking myself that question.

This is a great exercise tool and is something you can do as long as you can sit down. I had my knee operated many years ago, I was able to continue my cardio workout riding a stationary bike at home. During that time, I was thinking that there may be another incident which will enable me to run, jump, kick (I was thinking about my kickboxing class). I had to find something else to do then. Well, the Indoor cycling became my PLAN B. So, let’s think about indoor cycling as your forever cardio workout tool.

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How Do You Burn More Calories?

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How Do You Burn More Calories? Ride Harder.
Doesn’t adding upper-body gyrations on the bike increase overall activity that burns more calories?
No!!
Why? Because when you start twisting, turning, and lifting arms or hand weights while riding, the powerful work of the legs is greatly reduced (don’t get me started about safety). Activating more muscle and applying real stress increases the amount of work and thus, calories burned. The muscles of the legs are much greater in size than those lifting arms or the twig weights, so why would we trade more for less?
The mechanics of the bike strongly, if not exclusively, target stress on the legs; why diminish the effects of this beautiful movement with upper body silliness? The answer is simple—those that contort their abs and pump their arms in praise of the calorie gods don’t know what they are doing.
So let me give it to you straight…
If you want to burn more calories on the bike, ride harder…and with resistance.
You know you are getting the most out of your ride and burning a great amount of calories when your upper body is simply hanging on for dear life. Twisting upper body, making yourself in awkward hand and body position may make you feel like doing something…. Yes, doing something but FOR NOTHING.
They Are Trying to Sell Their Class and More or don’t know any better
People who promote the upper body workout and core benefit of an indoor cycling class are often looking to either hype their personal style or condone the contraindicated movements they use. If the indoor cycling industry was subject to the same risk stratification scrutiny as personal training and other functional movement modalities, some instructors would be serving jail time for their crimes.
To add insult to almost certain injury, it is often these misrepresented classes and fitness model instructors that make the news and host Hollywood favorites among their attendees. In the public eye, it doesn’t matter that these ab-crushing, 1 lb-weight-wielding, stretch-band-snapping, and arm-flailing cycling classes violate sound training science.
Who Are the Real Offenders?
The responsibility falls on the instructors spreading these false claims as truths.
To those who occupy instructor bikes and spout fitness illusions and training quackery, we like to beg them to either take responsibility and get educated or step down and stop confusing everyone.

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Does Cardio Burn Muscle Mass Or Fat? Don’t Be Scared Of Doing Cardio!

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I’ve been asked a few times now if I’m worried about losing muscle from doing cardio. To be honest, I’m really not. Yes, you can burn muscle from doing too much cardio, but you can also not burn muscle. It really just depends on how much you do and how you do it. So in reality, the answer is no, cardio does not burn muscle; training in an incorrect way is what burns muscle.

I also have been asked many different questions regarding muscle loss vs. fat loss. My overall reply is that I’m usually not too concerned because I don’t over-train or under-eat.

Since this post isn’t about the benefits of cardio I won’t go into detail on that, but I am a fan of cardio. No question about that. I love cardio and even high impact as long as I can remember.

I feel that it is a good way for those of us who have desk jobs or are stationary for the majority of the day to get in some quality exercise. Lifting weights is good, don’t get me wrong, but getting your heart rate up, sweating a bit and doing some good ole’ cardio is good too. I personally don’t fall into the crowd who thinks cardio is dead. It may not be necessary to get in shape, but it certainly isn’t ineffective either.

I mentioned to one of the members who was concern about “too much cardio workout” how much cardio is too much to worry about losing muscles.

There are many different types of cardio. Some cardio is considered better for burning fat, some for increasing your lactate threshold and there is even some cardio designed for burning muscle. Overall, cardio can be a very powerful tool when used correctly. The so-called phenomenon around cardio burning muscle is more of a result of poor diet and/or over training than the type of exercise itself. Which I also mentioned to the member.

There are three situations where your body will burn muscle:
1. Muscle is the only source of energy available (meaning you don’t eat right on regular basis)
2. You are not consuming enough protein (eat chicken, eat fish, eat nuts…. Stay with natural food)
3. Over training
Believe it or not, these shouldn’t be taking place too often. Whenever you exercise (or do any type of physical activity) your body has a pattern it follows.

As you know, we use our energy source as follows:

First, you burn carbs, then you burn fat and THEN you burn protein, which is what causes muscle loss. So it’s not the cardio that burns muscle, it’s the lack of proper diet and/or rest that burns muscle.
Are you thinking about “burn fat” stage now? How do I get there? I think I mentioned this to you already in the past. Low impact less strenuous cardio use more fat as an energy source compare to high intensity workout. So, let’s say that we use 40% of the energy source from fat doing low impact compare to 30% doing high impact. But, you may burn 350 calories doing low impact and used 140 calories of fat vs burning 500 total calories total and 150 calories came from fat. This is something you should remember.

Where’s the proof? Most of us do not do hours of cardio exercises to concern that you are losing muscles. As I indicated above, you use glucogen (carbs) first, and fat, if nothing else is left, your body use muscle for energy source. This applies more with marathon runner, Tour de France cycling race, and whatever requires long duration of cardio. You don’t lose muscle for doing a couple hours of cardio as long as you eat right through your normal diet.
Before and After Weight Training
If you do too much cardio before hitting the weights, chances are you will not want to do weights or you will not be able to lift as heavy compared to if you had not done so much cardio.
A good solution is to do either an easy 10 minutes before your weights and another 10-20 minutes after your weights. By doing this you will save energy for the weight training and not tire yourself out.
But, who wants to do this type of routine. The majority of people, mainly women prefers cardio workout because it is easier compare to men. Men do not mind lifting weights.

If I have only three days a week to workout but more than 2 hours to spare, I will definitely lift weights before doing cardio. Why? You can chose any form of cardio workout throughout the week, but for strength workout, you have to lift weights and target the muscle groups. Lifting lights weight and running around the room won’t do.
There are lot more to think about and what your goal is, but the bottom line is that cardio (for the amount of cardio the average people do in the gym) won’t lose your muscles. But, if you don’t lift heavy weights, you are losing your muscle mass every seconds. While we are happy running around doing cardio and feeling good, your muscle mass may not be that happy.

Yumiko

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