Building Strength

mark-dziuban-buildingstrength

Before I do anything I usually always need to have a comprehensive understanding of whatever it is I am about to do. If you ever saw me on the golf course you would think there is no way I understand anything about the golf swing but, it can be said that I may have over analyzed the golf swing and have read too much or have watched far too many videos.

Now, when it comes to increasing strength I think we all need to have at least a basic understanding of how our bodies grow and adapt through strength workouts. One would think if one set out to do 100 push ups each day, every day, well that would be an admirable goal and one would increase strength and size rather quickly. Sorry folks…simply not true. Here’s why.

Our bodies build strength two ways. The first is through Neural Adaptation. Neural Adaptation is the body becoming more efficient with the movement and recruiting, or firing, of muscle fibers. Think if you were to consistently run down a mountain. On day one you would blaze a new path but over a period of time, you would eventually wear a path into the mountainside effectively making each trip down the mountain easier as time went on. Our neural pathways are no different. When our body sends a message to our brain telling it to use a muscle in a way, and under a load it hasn’t seen in years…well the message will be slow to be received. The good news is our brain is quick to adapt and will build neural pathways to accommodate the request. As we establish a new workout routine and see quick and remarkable results, it is a direct result of these neural pathways being developed and refined with continual usage.

The second way our bodies build strength is through resistance training. When we workout we place stress on our bodies and then our bodies heal and grow stronger. It is important to note when we strength train we are not creating more muscle fiber, we are increasing the size and number of contractile components, which are the actin and myosin within each muscle fiber. So we need to stress our muscle fibers, break them down so when they repair they grow in size to accommodate the new stresses we impose upon them.

So, going back to the 100 push-ups per day. If you are a beginner and do 100 push-ups on day one, great job! When day two and day three come along and you continue to do your 100 push ups, you have not allowed your muscle fibers to heal and rebuild, your effort will be wasted. In fact, you will be better suited to take three days off before performing your next work out of 100 push-ups. Over a short period of time you will notice the push-up workout routine get easier and easier.

Now, if you are an advanced athlete and do 100 push ups each day, they will be quite easy as you will not be stressing your muscle fibers at all, your effort will yield zero physical results. You need to impose additional resistance to show improvement in strength and increase in muscle size. In order to see an appreciable improvement, increase weight by wearing a body vest or have a workout partner place weight plates on your back. You want to be able to add weight so you can perform 5 to 12 reps max. It is within this rep range you will yield the best results. If you can do 20 push ups, you need to add weight as your body has adapted to the change you imposed upon it and you simply must add more weight to see continued improvement in size and strength. Studies prove that doing three to five sets at this rep range will show best results.

For both the beginner and advanced athlete, incorporate this workout method1-3 times per week for each muscle group you are working, no more. Use this method for all your weight training and watch how quickly you’ll see results!

How to Maintain Fitness during Travel

mark-dziuban-fitness

Going on vacation is supposed to be enjoyable. For some, the break in their routines is a bit jarring. Most importantly, they want to make sure that they can still stay fit during their trips. Following some tips can allow people to achieve their fitness goals while also having a great vacation.

Express Goals

People who are on vacation want to have a good time, and when travelers are trying to maintain fitness goals, they may not share that information with their relatives and friends. However, letting loved ones know what is going on isn’t a bad idea. Doing so can stop them from pressuring individuals into eating unhealthy foods or to staying inside all day. Even when people are traveling together, they do not necessarily need to do everything together.

Book the Right Hotel

Finding the right spot to workout can be tough, especially when traveling during inclement weather. Getting in a workout might not be as easy as going for a run around the block. Many hotels offer gyms and pools on the premises. Instead of taking the risk of having nowhere to workout, people interested in maintaining their fitness levels can book hotels that have these offerings.

Eat Right

Individuals do not have to give up sampling different foods, but they can still eat properly. Researching restaurants in the area before going on the trip can help people to make smart choices about what they eat. Also, they can seek out accommodations that have a kitchen. Cooking one’s own meals can help travelers to stay fit. They will know exactly what is going into their foods.

Plan Healthy Activities

While going to see a play and visiting museums are certainly items that travelers can put on their agendas, they should also look into healthy activities. For example, the area may have hikes that they can go on or walking tours so that they can stretch their legs. Finding a balance between sedentary activities and ones that involve movement is important, especially for people who want to maintain fitness on their vacations.

Staying fit on a trip might seem as though it is impossible, particularly when travelers also want to have fun. Fortunately, establishing a healthy routine while on an enjoyable trip is certainly more than just a possibility.

The Best Movies About Cycling

robert-calin-177055-unsplash

 

Over the last 200 hundred years, there have been thousands of cycling races across the world uniting sports and fitness enthusiasts alike. As popularity increased, filmmakers worked to portray the world of cycling in ways that the race viewers may not typically see. Films range from fiction to nonfiction, comedic to dramatic, from documentary to adventure. There is no shortage of movies on the long-established sport of cycling, and with so many to choose from, it may be helpful to start with a few of the best cycling movies.

Bicycle Dreams (2009)

 

This documentary focuses on the 2005 Race Across America, a 3,000-mile cross country event attempted by only the best endurance racers around. Starting with the tragic death of endurance cyclist Bob Breedlove, this story is proof of the astonishing strength of the human spirit.

 

The Armstrong Lie (2013)

 

Starting as a documentary on Armstrong’s extraordinary comeback from cancer, the film takes a turn as news breaks of Lance’s history of cheating with steroids. The film shows the once-known cycling hero’s fall into disgrace as he is stripped of his seven Tour De France titles and banned from professional cycling.

 

The Flying Scotsman (2006)

 

This film depicts the fantastic story of Scottish amateur cyclist Graeme Obree as he attempts to obtain the world record for the one-hour distance despite suffering from a mental illness and having no sponsors for support. Despite the establishment’s pushback of his self-made bike, the cyclist gives the world a story of undeniable triumph.

 

The Triplets of Belleville (2003)

 

If you are a fan of Tour de France, then this selection is for you. Although this French animation is different from most cycling movies, this funny and touching film has something to offer all. As a young boys grandmother attempts to train him to be a champion in cycling, she decides he will be the next winner of the Tour. This movie won the Oscar for Best Animated Foreign Film in 2004.

 

Breaking Away (1979)

 

This would not be a “Best of” list without mention this film. This representation of small-town America, life as a college student and amateur cyclist, this movie grossed $20 million in North America, proving its critical and commercial success. The American Film Institute ranked it as one of the top ten American sports films of all time.

 

The Biggest Cycling Races In History

By Mark Dziuban

 

In 1817, Baron von Drais invented the first version of what is now called bicycles. After 50 years and various design changes, the recognition of the freedom and fun that bicycles brought to the people led to the first mass-production of bicycles in 1868. On May 31st of that same year, cycling as a sport officially began.

 

The race was a 1,312 yard (or 1,200 meters) race near Paris. Within a year, the first city-to-city race was held between Paris and Rouen. In the U.S., the first recorded race was held in Boston on May 24, 1878. By the 1890’s, a new form of racing began to thrive: the six-day race. This non-stop competition includes 142 hours of round-the-clock racing performed by one to two-man teams. While cycling became common in continental Europe, England’s deteriorated road conditions hindered the popularity of the sport.

 

Throughout the following 200 years, many races and racers came and went leaving unbelievable stories and records to intrigue all for years to come. Here are just a few of the many unforgettable moments in cycling history.

 

In 1903, the Tour de France was inaugurated as an outsized and extravagant race. The 21-day-long race quickly became one of the most popular and prestigious cycling races in the world. This multi-stage race has been held over 100 times with route distances ranging from 2,000-2,200 miles. To this day, there have only been four cyclists to win the race five times altogether.

 

Founded in 1909, the Giro d’Italy, or La Corsa Rosa, is also a 21 day, 2,000+ mile long race. This race holds the title for most engaged fans, as the weather-related obstacles, such as freezing rain or snow, seems to present no problem for the tour enthusiasts.

 

Dating back to the 1930s, the Tour de Suisse is the most famous bicycle race in Switzerland. First won by Austrian cyclist Max Bulla, this race is known as the place to prove yourself before moving on to the Tour de France. There has been only one cyclist, Pasquale Fornara, who has managed to win the race four times.

 

Established in 1947, the Criterium du Dauphine incorporates eight individual stages over the course of eight days. Benefiting from its location and place on the calendar, race organizers often feature a mountain stage with a route that is nearly identical to what the Tour de France will trace one month later.

 

While racers and races continue to evolve, the stories, moments, and successes of those dedicated to the ultimate physical challenges will remain cherished and revered.

The best cycling destinations in the US

mark-dziuban-us

The weather’s getting warmer by the day, which means different things to different people. For cycling enthusiasts, though, summer means more time spent atop the good old banana seat. Here are five of the best spots for cycling in the United States, for anyone looking for new and exciting routes to explore.

San Juan Islands, Washington

These scenic islands offer something for everyone, from the casual rider to the hard-core mountain biker. Lopez is the ideal go-to for easy pedaling, while Orcas is home to the challenging twin peaks of Mt. Constitution and Turtleback. The largest of the trio, San Juan, is the most densely populated, making it the perfect choice for those who want a more lively post-cycling scene.

Gran Fondo Route, New York

Yes, it’s true: The Big Apple is home to some of the country’s best cycling, and the Gran Fondo course easily tops the list. The route covers just over 100 miles in total, beginning at the George Washington bridge, continuing along the iconic Hudson River, and finally finishing up on Bear Mountain.

Asheville, North Carolina

This southern destination has seen a strong upsurge in recent years, and it won’t take long for cyclists to discover why. The Pisgah National Forest offers textured and challenging terrain, while the Blue Ridge Parkway invites long, leisurely rides.

Sea to Summit Route, California

The name says it all. What could be better than an invigorating ride from the majestic Pacific Ocean all the way to Mt. Tamalpais? Along the way, cyclists are treated to views of the San Francisco waterfront, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin headlands, and the famed California redwoods. This is a destination that should appear on every cyclist’s bucket list.

Burlington, Vermont

Here’s another spot that’s worth a visit, even for those who never get on a bicycle. The ones who do, however, will be rewarded with unique vantage points along Lake Champlain, and some of the most peaceful mountain biking conditions to be found anywhere.

For more details on these routes, as well as in-depth looks at several others, (as well as several others), check out this Gear Patrol article. Bike Radar is also a great resource for finding great destinations that might lie off the beaten path.

Strength Training Tips for Beginners

mark-dziuban-tips

There are many benefits to incorporating strength training into your regular workout routine. Such benefits include an increase in strength, muscle tone, and confidence! When you are physically strong and feel good in your body, your mentality will follow suit. If you’re just beginning your journey into strength training we’ve got you covered with plenty of tips on how to do it most effectively. If strength training is already a part of your schedule stick around and learn a few more things you can do to take your training up a notch!

 

Start training with your body weight

Strength training doesn’t have to mean that you lift weights. Strength training means using resistance in order to make your muscles work harder and bodyweight exercises are perfect for getting the job done. This comes in handy if you don’t have the means for a gym membership!

2 days a week is more than enough when beginning

If you aren’t already strength training, take it easy on yourself for the first few weeks. Your body has to adapt to a new workload and recovery time is essential.

Warm-up properly

If you don’t warm-up, you are increasing your risk of injury. Foam rolling and then a dynamic warm-up of the muscle groups being worked will suffice. It increases blood flow and range of motion giving you an extra edge during your workout.

Full body workouts

If you’re following the 2 days a week routine, working your entire body and firing up all muscle groups will give you the best results. Following an upper body exercise with a lower body exercise allows the upper body to recover and vice versa. For example, after completing a set of pushups, complete a set of squats.

Take a post-workout stretch

This will drastically reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) over the next couple of days and something you will absolutely thank us for later. It’ll also improve your flexibility and calm your nervous system, giving you similar effects of yoga and meditation.

Strength training is fun, challenging, and obviously great for your mind and body. Keep these tips in mind when beginning and be gentle with yourself as it can get tough when getting into the swing of things. But you can handle it- good luck!

The best books on cycling

mark-dziuban-books

There are a variety of great texts on cycling, including those focused on cycling history, professional competition, and philosophies on training. Here are a few of my favorite titles.

“How Cycling can Save the World” by Peter Walker

Guardian reporter and longtime cycling columnist Peter Walker delves into the place of cycling in a car-dominated society. Walker essentially argues that “the future of humanity depends on the bicycle,” discussing cycling’s impact on environmental sustainability and transportation safety.

“It’s All About the Bike” by Robert Penn

“It’s All About the Bike” is the true account of author Robert Penn’s journey to build the ideal bike. A seasoned cyclist with over 25,000 miles to his name, Penn explores various historic and cultural details surrounding the bicycle as he takes readers on his hunt for “two-wheel perfection,” exploring the reasons that avid cyclists continue to saddle up to this day.

“The Cycling Anthology” by Ellis Bacon and Lionel Birnie

If you are looking for a compilation of great writings on cycling, look no further than “The Cycling Anthology.” The collection brings together original and exclusive pieces written by leading cyclists and cyclist commentators. Covered topics include professional career development, the impact of statistics, and the legacy of Lance Armstrong.

 

“Shut Up, Legs!” by Jens Voigt

In “Shut Up, Legs,” beloved German cyclist Jens Voigt gives readers a closer look inside his cycling career, covering his victories in three stages of the Tour De France. Though Voigt never claimed an overall victory, he handled himself with grace and exhibited an aggressive, dedicated riding demeanor. The book “offers a rare glimpse inside Voigt’s heart and mind.”

 

“The Story of the Tour De France: Volume 1 – 1903-1964” by Bill McGann

The Tour De France is, unequivocally, the biggest spectacle in the cycling world — not to mention the sports world at large. This text dives into the historic event’s past and present, exploring its rise in size and success over the years. Readers are able to trace each chapter of what has become one of the greatest and most esteemed events in sports history.

Exploring common cycling ailments (Pt. 2)

mark-dziuban-pain2

Like any endurance sport, cycling can come with its fair share of overuse injuries. There are a variety of pesky ailments that commonly plague dedicated cyclists, which can quickly interrupt — or end — an otherwise fruitful training cycle.

I previously explained how to approach and manage five common cycling ailments. Here now are answers to a few more frequent injuries.

 

Broken clavicle

Crashes and impact injuries are an unfortunate, but frequent part of competitive cycling — a group of fast-traveling athletes in close proximity to one another is sure to spell disaster now and then. There are obviously numerous ways these scenarios can lead to significant injury, but a common injury area is the clavicle, or the collarbone; this is not surprising, given this bone’s vulnerable exposure and front-facing position (any head-over-handlebars situation puts it at immediate risk of taking the brunt of the fall). This particular injury requires quick medical attention, so exercise common sense in any situation where you think you may have suffered a break or fracture.

 

Back pain

Given the fact that cycling usually entails a slightly bent-forward posture, it is no surprise that many cyclists mistakenly slouch during long rides, leading to pain in several critical areas — among them, the back. Additionally, many of us also hold jobs that find us sitting and bending over for long periods of time, causing an adverse shift in our biomechanics. Chronic back pain can quickly shut down a cycling season, so make sure to correct your posture problems and engage in proper stretching and strengthening exercises while you still can.

 

Arm pain

It is also not surprising that many cyclists occasionally grapple with arm pain — after all, a cyclist’s arms are responsible for the overall steering of the bike. The easiest way to correct this ailment is to check the reach on your bike; it may be too long and therefore responsible for unnecessary pressure and straining. Furthermore, check to make sure your handlebars are not set too low. These tips can also help to correct pain associated with the neck and upper back.

 

These Mistakes Might be Hindering your Strength Training

mark-dziuban-lifting-mistakes

Lifting weights is one of the most effective ways to build a strong, healthy body from the ground up. However, many people self-sabotage and stall progress. Here are ten mistakes to avoid when hitting the gym.

Having unclear goals

Without a goal in mind, you won’t stick with your plan. Do you want to be more powerful, look good naked, or improve your health? Knowing what you want will keep you motivated and help you design your routine.

High reps with low weights

To get the best results, you need to do low reps with the maximum weight you can lift. This is called “lifting to failure.” Otherwise, it’s an aerobic exercise and you won’t build muscle or burn fat.

Not resting between sets

Resting between sets allows muscles to recover so you can lift your max weight in the next set. Rushing through your workout may get you home faster, but it will also slow progress.

Isolating muscle groups

Compound lifts like deadlifts and squats are more efficient and build strength evenly because they activate multiple muscle groups.

Having poor form

Lifting with proper form will ensure you are activating the right muscle groups while also reducing the likelihood of injury. A personal trainer can help correct errors in form.

Choosing the wrong footwear

The best shoes for lifting provide a flat, firm surface to maximize stability. Professional lifting shoes have wooden soles, but other options are available.

Not pushing yourself

Working hard keeps your heart rate up and maximizes the value of your gym time. You can chat with your buddies later over a protein shake.

Avoiding your weak spots

Failure to train your body evenly can lead to lopsided muscle gain, making you uncomfortable and potentially increasing the risk of injury. Don’t avoid challenging lifts if overall strength is your goal.

Neglecting rest days

When you exercise, you create microscopic tears in your muscles that take 48 to 96 hours to heal. Rest is a vital part of becoming stronger.

Avoiding the gym due to insecurity

The worst mistake to make is not lifting at all. Everybody has a “day one” of hitting the gym–get out there and make today your day.

 

Five Essential TED Talks On Physical Fitness

mark-dziuban-tedtalks

Nothing is more important than keeping fit and healthy. Exercise has been shown to counteract stress levels, but there are other areas of a human physical health that can greatly benefit from it as well. Here is a list of 5 of the most important physical fitness TED talks to watch.

 

Why Some People Find Exercise Harder Than Others

Social psychologist Emily Balcetis explains how having a weak or a strong motivation to exercise can determine how far or close a person feels they are to meeting their fitness goals. She underscores the value of “keeping your eyes on the prize” when it comes to getting fit. To watch the video, click here.

 

The Brain Changing Benefits of Exercise

Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki recently did a talk on how exercise changes not only the physical body, but the brain and mind as well. The prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain which controls things such as attention span and personality.

She accidentally discovered the correlation when she decided to work her way through a mild depression funk by going to the gym. After a period of time, she noticed her mind seemed to be getting sharper, and the idea for the study was born. To watch the video, click here.

 

Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work

Sandra Aamodt explains why diets so rarely ever have a permanent positive effect, and how a person’s weight range is largely determined by the hypothalamus. She also speaks on eating mindfully with special attention to one’s particular body’s needs as a solution to excessive weight gain. To watch the video, click here.

 

Physical Therapy is Boring — Play a Game Instead

When 70 percent of patients are failing to do their prescribed home exercises, it’s been clear that a solution needed to be found to encourage them to take better care of themselves. Self proclaimed “software geek” Cosmin Mihaiu and his friends created a P.C. software platform called MIRA to turn the dull chore of physical therapy into a time for engagement and fun. To watch the video, click here.

 

High-intensity Physical Exercise Will Boost Your Health

Cardiac health researcher Øivind Rognmo explores how exercise changes the heart system, and how to use the body’s own mechanisms for maximizing that impact. To watch the video, click here.