By TypeA Girl PilotB.T.com Gear Reviewer
I remember once falling asleep on my couch, only to be awoken in the early morning hours by this over the top, enthusiastic voice emanating from the TV. It was a man in an infomercial boasting about the benefits of how oxygen gets his whites super white and, boy was this guy was extremely pleased with this product! Right now, I would sound like this infomercial with regard to the CYCLO-CORE Off-Season Conditioning Program, with two, maybe three big differences – I’m not being paid for endorsing this product, and I am genuinely impressed with it! (I mean, really, find me a man who is actually excited because his whites are white and I’ll…….refer him to my dry cleaner. Furthermore, I’ve tried the oxygen stuff on my white work shirts, and I’m not impressed. But I digress.)
With CYCLO-CORE, there is absolutely no need to fight the New Year’s Resolutioners at your gym to get into spin class or wait in line for the weight machines. It is designed to be used at home, with short, yet effective workouts to bring your cycling performance to the next level. At the risk of sounding like I went to Infomercial Buzzword School, I’m just going to tell it like it is.
Off-Season Conditioning Program DVD
Perfect scores across the board – easy to follow, challenging, adaptable, informative, effective, and fun
If I said to you, “Go to your gym and pick out the machines or show me the free-weight exercises that you do to make you climb faster, simultaneously build your leg AND lung power, and improve your cadence and fluidity on the bike,” which machines would you get in line for? Which free-weight exercises would you do? Say your gym actually has such a miracle machine (I bet it also will make you lose 10 pounds in 48 hours while also integrating an optional tanning machine); can it actually combine core strength and train your balance? Can it challenge your aerobic endurance?
OK, I have the apparatus which is up to the task, and it’s a DVD. It’s actually a DVD with bonus CDs and it makes up the CYCLO-CORE Off Season Conditioning Program conceived by Graeme Street. He has been an avid cyclist for over 20 years and a fitness/conditioning expert for 7 years. CYCLO-CORE is the result of a 3-4 year pioneering effort of combining functional training, core conditioning, flexibility, yoga, balance, and indoor cycling – a first of it’s kind. The goal of this program is simple – for the cyclist to have IMPROVED performance when the next season rolls around, not merely to maintain last season’s fitness. It also allows the athlete to improve on weak areas, whether it is flexibility, or lack of power, muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance, strength, stamina, or stability.
CYCLO-CORE Founder Graeme Street
CYCLO-CORE is unique in that you can refine your workouts as your conditioning improves. It incorporates three body weight circuits that you can do separately or combine all three of them for a 25-minute program. By using your own body weight, your upper and lower body will be challenged while you are improving your aerobic and anaerobic endurance. You may be thinking, “three circuits, ALL totaling only 25 minutes?” That’s right. Be prepared for a fast and fun workout, but also be ready to pat yourself on the back afterwards for finishing it! CYCLO-CORE also has a three circuit functional/resistance workout which incorporates the use of a stability ball and light weights. “Light” weights as in 10-20 lb. dumbbells. Yes, they are that challenging.
By now you are asking me to show you the biking! Of course there is cycling associated with the workouts. In between the challenging body weight and functional/resistance circuits – which are already cycling specific – you are encouraged to ride your bike on your trainer or rollers (or even if you have to, a stationary bike) for 10-20 minutes which adds another dimension to the workout. Your hip flexors will thank you, your hamstrings and quadriceps will thank you, and your significant other will thank you for your great looking backside.
These body weight and functional (a key word here) exercises will challenge you in ways that spinning can’t. I used to enjoy loading the sled on the leg press with an impressive stack of weights and thought that pressing out 3 sets of 15 would make me a better cyclist. But not really. Traditional leg presses and squats actually have little application to cycling. Graeme Street incorporates exercises like body weight Hindu Squats or dumbbell assisted Squat and Presses in these circuits to improve leg strength, lung power and aerobic endurance. Both of these exercises also challenge your core. He also uses exercises such as Bicycle Kicks, Spinal Balance, Reverse and Lateral Lunges, Mountain Climbers, and assorted core exercises to guide you to becoming a stronger cyclist. There isn’t a section of the body that is neglected. He also trains the upper body as it applies to uphill power on the bike. Those of us who ride in hilly areas know that when climbing a hill, pulling up on your handlebars to get more power down to your legs can be quickly tiring.
I also liked listening to him through my grunts (and occasional cursing) to educate myself on WHY the exercises he is guiding me through are important, and how each benefits me as a cyclist. He also takes the time to instruct as he guides you, telling you HOW to maintain form and reminding you to do it. Lastly, Graeme Street is an excellent motivator. I enjoy his method of “coaching”, for lack of better word, more so than “Mr. Carmichael” or “Teacher Troy”. My fellow BT-ers who also use their TVs to indoor train will know of whom I speak.
To complete the program, with CYCLO-CORE you get a special section of Stretching and Flexibility that work on your lower back, hip flexors, glutes, and piriformis, along with the traditional hamstrings and assorted leg muscles. The Bonus Ab/Core Conditioning section ties it all together for a strong core which will not only allow you to function better as a cyclist, but as a triathlete as well.
But wait, there’s more!
The program also comes with 3 audio CDs that have Graeme Street’s 12 Keys To Practical Off-Season Nutrition Success in which he reveals strategies that will keep you “on track for off-season success without giving up pizza or beer!” The CDs also include an interview with Fred Matheny of RoadBikeRider.com on how to set up an off-season program.
Graeme Street also separately offers Cyclo-Zen (to be reviewed next month), which brings cycling and yoga together, as well as various 12-week off-season training programs in conjunction with Coach Al Lyman, CSCS. The training programs are available for beginner, intermediate and advanced cyclists.
It’s your off-season and if you are looking to spend it by focusing on improving your biking, why not give the CYCLO-CORE system a try. CYCLO-CORE is not gimmicky; it is a highly effective training program that targets cycling-specific muscle groups from a fitness expert who is passionate about cycling. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced cyclist, this program will bring you to the next level.
It is unlikely that any of the workouts will become stale, because you continually challenge yourself with more exercise sets, plus you have the option to change your workouts from day to day. Graeme Street provides you with the tools; it is up to you to use them. Becoming a better rider over the off-season isn’t just about the catch-phrase “ride lots” – a tip so often dispensed in our BT Forums. Train smart and with purpose. I say "Don’t Just Ride More... CYCLO-CORE!"