Thursday, May 29, 2008

Negative aspects within cycling (politics, fitting, doping, etc...)

It is like a civil war in the cycling sport. Why?

To start, you have a sport that requires hard exercise! So, how do you educate or describe and explain the bouts of physical exercise? We have a ton of "good ole boys & gals" that have done it with only blood & guts for 20 years and they know?

We are consistently dealing with the many myths that fuel the war. There are offenders everywhere, from organizations and alleged experts that cite data and those that make vague statements. Sadly, too many athletes do it their way. What is proper?

For the endurance exercise, it is important to postpone fatigue, maintaining the best concert of muscles working together. You don't want one group of muscles interfere with another. For the tt, it's making horsepower and for the mtb, it's finding the torque to get up the hill. They are all not the same game! So, how can you take one fit and use it for all? We don't and that is what makes a difference!

How does someone predict improved performance levels in a given sport? No question, required learning is needed for major complex skills (like an event).

The fastest sprinters and those who can go the distance before the season begins are also likely to be the fastest sprinters and distance performers, respectively, at the end of the season...Provided they don't get hurt!

We just had the head of BSU physiology come in for a fit. She had been the professor of one of our World Champions MTB Sally Warner in Bromont, CA who is now a also a PhD in physiology. She loved the bike she got from Sally and they are close to the same size.

Then she got a new bike and was placed on the wrong size bike with the wrong size cranks, etc... When she came in, we could not even fit her to that bike due to it being the incorrect size. The bike came from a smaller bike store and we all know that they need to turn over the bikes before July in order to pay their bill in order to purchase new inventory in October. She even said she felt bad about her not knowing the correct size to get. Buyer beware!!!

So you have lots of stores attempting to stay in business and they all have their own M.O. Concepts are discussed, conclusive statements are made about the phenomena of exercise and the correct bike you need...and off to the races. They might even have their own team and they are going to do it their way! Take it to the races gents! We will show them!

You get negatives from the start, you don't even have two stores on the same page! Many times, you don't have two people within one store or one team thinking the same way. One will say "that" and the other will say "this".

We even get athletes that are on a team that has used x,y,z fit and they come to us and pay, after being fitted free by the "official" fitter.

Then you have the retail stores running with whatever the major bikes reps say is the trend because they designed the bike that way. Understand, you don't have to sell their brand, because the guy down the road would love to be the new dealer of that major brand and if you don't buy into their marketing. For years, they did not have even a basic fitting, now they have mass marketing fitting at the basic level. You can go to their school.

Then you have others that can predict your performance, using their politics, doping or what ever to get your ear! There seems to be good money in coaching, so if you obtain a basic level of understanding and a way of recording watts, you too can be the pro of prediction. Only time will tell, as the results only come with time, perhaps take a whole year or more. If you don't get the performance you wanted you can always move to the next guy for predicting your performance. They can always say "We didn't pick your parents! See Ya!"

Then we have the internet, with the reviews and contributions of (x, y, z), plus the chat rooms and self proclaimed professionals. Let the negativity start! I guess they missed the class at their University on the subject (It appears that one is more likely to be successful in certain athletic events, especially distance running and sprinting, if the athlete is blessed with a certain muscle fiber composition.)

However, "ideal" fiber types do not guarantee championships; in some cases it is still possible to be successful with less than optimal fiber composition. There are many other factors that are at least as important, if not more so. Muscle don't push, they pull and if we can't place the fibers in a zone of the best line of pull, you at least have some possible hope of being successful in your cycling game.

So do characteristics of muscle fiber types make a difference? Do you have Slow (I), Fast (IIA), or Fast (IIB)? Perhaps you still have hope to change the a Fast (IIB) to a Fast (IIA)?

If you can answer the below questions, perhaps you still have HOPE!

1. Explain how nerve stimulation to muscle leads to contraction. What is the role of calcium in this process?

2.What are (A bands, Z lines, thin filaments, thick filaments, H zones. Explain the difference in appearance between relaxed and contracted myofibrils on the basis of the sliding filament theory of contraction.

3. Describe the difference between a muscle fiber, a myofibril, and a myofilament.

4. Explain how the sarcoplasmic reticulum is involved in both contraction and relaxation.

5. Explain the role of tropomyosin and troponin in muscle contraction and relaxation.

6. How does cross bridge cycling account for a progressive shortening of muscle during contraction?

7. What is the function of the T-tubules in contraction?

8. How is ATP involved in both contraction and relaxation of skeletal muscle?

9. What is the relationship between myosin ATPase activity and contractile speed of a muscle fiber.

10. What are the two main fiber types in human skeletal muscle, and how do they differ?

11. Describe the recruitment pattern of fast & slow fibers in distance running, sprinting, and jumping. Is one fiber type always recruited first?

12. What anatomical and biochemical characteristics make slow twitch fiber well-adapted to endurance activities?

13. Describe some of the different characteristics for the two subdivisions of fast twitch fibers.

14. What influence does the motor nerve have on fiber recruitment for different activities?

15. What is an approximate % of slow fibers in the vastus lateralis of the thigh in untrained cycling subjects, sprinters, and elite distance runners?

16. What is the relationship between fiber type distribution and performance in athletics? Can one accurately predict performance on the basis of fiber type. Do sEMG records make a difference?

17. What arguments could you raise against the use of muscle biopsies to determine fiber types in junior high school athletes? What does this do to their head?

18. On the basis of the of lack of evidence presented in so many articles, how does one find the answer to questions raised.? Can a youngster change their muscle fibers type distribution by training vigorously?

The truth is this: The arguments are going to be as varied as the grades of people who attempt the above questions! Only those who do their homework will perform better. There is no free ride!

Increase you knowledge and you improve your results!

Another truth is muscles only pull and if we can find the best range of motion and the best line of pull of your total body muscles, you have a better chance to predict your performance level, what ever that might be!

It is very unwise to base major decisions about an athlete's career on the basis of muscle type and recording his/her watts only. Just the same, it is unwise to use doping to improve your game over another. We all want to be good at something even if it is predicting your bike game. Measurements work!

By having a good fit on your bike (pending the game) you have a better chance of physiological capacity to be a good performer. Some athletes are cut out for endurance and others nonendurance events/sports and that is the way it is always going to be!

That doesn't mean you can't ride a bike for exercise and health, plus save a little money due to the gas prices!

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