I enjoy many types of outdoor activities, not just cycling. I also really enjoy rock climbing, tenkara, backpacking, and skiing. I have always avoided the gym like the plague though. The thought of working out inside seemed absolutely boring to me. However, in the last few months I have gotten rather serious about improving on my bike as much as possible. When I noticed that I was plateauing fitness wise my attitude towards the gym began to shift. I knew I had hit a wall and to keep improving I would need to start strength training in the gym.
Finding the right gym
As a stay at home dad I needed a gym that was both reasonably close and that offered affordable child care options. Surprisingly this was harder to accomplish than I expected. After searching awhile I gave up on the idea and began to price out home gym options instead. A few weeks later out of the blue one morning my wife told me to enroll our son in swim lessons at the YMCA. So, I took him in a few days latter to sign up for swim lessons. I had not been inside a YMCA since I was very young so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they had a gym and that they offered child care that was included in the $60 a month membership dues! I signed up immediately.
The first time I went to the YMCA gym I wandered around with a dazed look on my face. I had no idea what to start with or how to use half of the machines. So I went for a run instead. Afterwards, I stopped by the front desk to ask about personal training. They handed me a flyer but the prices were too much for me. Dejected I turned to leave. The staff must have noticed my down turned face as they stopped me before I walked out the door “We offered a Kickstart program that is free of charge.” The Kickstart program offered three – one and a half hour sessions with a personal trainer. The purpose of the program was to help new members put together a personalized training plan based on their individual health, fitness, and goals. Just what I was looking for!
My personalized training plan
I recently ticked off my third and final meeting with my personal trainer Chris. I was seriously impressed with his knowledge. He gave me some great tips and advice; and not just for weight training but diet and nutrition too. I am planning on covering that in the next post. Here is what we came up with:
Machine Leg Extension
Machine Seated Leg Curl
Machine Chest Press
Machine Shoulder Press
Plate Loaded Low Row
Machine Horizontal Leg Press
Or each leg 12R @55lbs for 6 sets if I wanted to focus on each leg specifically.
2 Bicycles @40R
Machine Lower Back Extension
Followed by a regimen of post work out stretches which included: Hip/oblique stretches, Assisted Hamstring stretches, and Standing Quadricep Stretches.
Thought process behind the regimen
In regards to the high reps for the exercises my main goal was to build endurance. Obviously I would build strength but a little slower as my reps were considerably higher than a strength focused only workout would be.
To determine the weight for Machine Horizontal Leg Press we halved my max which was determined by the heaviest weight I could push for three reps.
The low weights for my shoulders and back was motivated by a TBI I sustained when I was 19. My TBI left me with chronic neck and back pain. We did not want to push those muscles too hard and chose instead to work slowly on improving them.
The above regimen targets muscles that are the most heavily used during long extended efforts on a bike (e.g. Dirty Kanza or other endurance races that I have my eye on for next season).
I have been listening to “The Obree Way” by Graeme Obree on Audible and in one of his chapters he talked about stretching. After reading it I have incorporated his stretches too. I am currently in the process of training my mind to stretch every night.
Having been a die hard “no gym” guy for so many years I have come to love going to the gym. I have a few podcasts that I love to listen to while I work out and I can feel myself getting stronger every time. If you are on the fence about the gym – commit. I am sure you will not regret it.