January
11

Rider Q&A: Compressions clothing, cross training, calorie intake and extra workouts

One of  the guys on my Ultimate MTB Workout Program sent me these questions recently, I thought that they were great questions and that everyone would benefit from the answer.

Q: Compression clothing has gotten some media coverage lately. Dirt magazine even ran a small article of world cup dh riders using Skins compression clothing under their race kit. According to some (objective) study the company says that the use of their clothing accelerates blood flow, increases endurance and other things like that. Do you think there is any truth behind that or is it all marketing bollocks? I just bought a compression shirt that´s made by Adidas. I gotta say that it´s the most comfortable thing to wear.

A: Compression clothing certainly has some advantages. It helps blood flow and gives the muscles a slight bracing as well. While the effects may be a bit overblown, there are some potential performance advantages. However, finding something that won’t restrict your movement too much is key as we do more than just run in a straight line.

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Q: About crosstraining. It´s clear that if you do a really intense workouts 5-6 times a week it will wear and tear your body down. As you said variety is over rated now a days. It´s better to master 1 or 2 skills than knowing a bit of someting about dozens. However some crossfit athletes seem to really thrive. I assume that they have really gotten their workout together. By incident a finnish guy just recently won the title of “fittest man of earth”. He can do 50 chin ups and run 3,6km in 12mins. Isn´t that the physical condition we all are looking to achieve? Being really strong and still having a lot of cardio capacity.

A: A lot of athletes who do CrossFit don’t really do CrossFit, they do CrossFit type workouts that they have adapted to their sport and needs. I can guarantee you that few, if any, highly successful athletes just log onto the crossfit site and follow the workout of the day.

Plus, a lot of these guys are competing against other athletes who don’t strength train and follow an “aerobic base training” plan so it may not be the exact program they are following as much as the fact that they are doing something that builds strength and anaerobic endurance.

Lastly, the “fittest man on earth” title is pretty subjective. If the test was a 4X race then that guy would not have done so well. He is fit to do pull ups and run 3.6 km. If that is your sport then great, but if not then don’t read too much into it. Fitness is specific to how you test it – a marathon runner is “fit” to run a marathon but not to pole vault.

Also, being strong is not how many chin ups you can do, it is how much weight you can strap to yourself and do 1-3 reps – doing 50 chin ups is strength endurance. We want to be strong and have a lot of cardio, both just need to be specific to what we want to accomplish on the trail.

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Q: Some nutritional things. Does it make a difference when planning out “off day” meals? Am I right that when my goal is to get strongr and build some lean muscle does my calorie intake has to be a bit on the plus side 24/7? So it isn´t necessary or even beneficial to “lighten up” on days when not training? Lightening up doesn´t mean leaving those pizzas and pastas out because I´m cut off from those long time ago.

A:  You can and should vary your calories slightly according to your activity level on a given day but most of that will come from adding in a post workout shake on your training days. On off days you don’t have one so even if everything else was the same you would still be eating lightly less on days you don’t do as much.

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Q: Few times a week when I have the time and feel motivated I really like doing a second workout for the same day. I usually try to do some lighter exercises that promote balance and movement. Wallslides are a top notch movement! I just got them from your blog! What other similar exercises would you recommend or would include for a 20-35min quick workout?

A: My top exercises for adding in something extra – Turkish Get Ups, swings, push ups, inverted rows. You almost can not do too many of these, especially if you are going lighter on the second workout and really concentrating on form and quality of movement.

-James Wilson-

1. Compression clothing certainly has some advantages. It helps blood flow and gives the muscles a slight bracing as well. While the effects may be a bit overblown, there are some potential performance advantages. However, finding something that won’t restrict your movement too much is key as we do more than just run in a straight line.
2. A lot of athletes who do CrossFit don’t really do CrossFit, they do CrossFit type workouts that they have adapted to their sport and needs. I can guarantee you that few, if any, highly successful athletes just log onto the crossfit site and follow the workout of the day.
Plus, a lot of these guys are competing against other athletes who don’t strength train and follow an “aerobic base training” plan so it may not be the exact program they are following as much as the fact that they are doing something that builds strength and anaerobic endurance.
Lastly, the “fittest man on earth” title is pretty subjective. If the test was a 4X race then that guy would not have done so well. He is fit to do pull ups and run 3.6 km. If that is your sport then great, but if not then don’t read too much into it. Fitness is specific to how you test it – a marathon runner is “fit” to run a marathon but to pole vault.
Also, being strong is not how many chin ups you can do, it is how much weight you can strap to yourself and do 1-3 reps – doing 50 chin ups is strength endurance. We want to be strong and have a lot of cardio, both just need to be specific to what we want to accomplish on the trail.
3. You can and should vary your calories slightly according to your activity level on a given day but most of that will come from adding in a post workout shake on your training days. On off days you don’t have one so even if everything else was the same you would still be eating lightly less on days you don’t do as much.
4. My top exercises for adding in something extra – Turkish Get Ups, swings, push ups, inverted rows. You almost can not do too many of these, especially if you are going lighter on the second workout and really concentrating on form and quality of movement.

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  1. Walt says:

    James,
    I really want to increase my height in the bunny hop. What exercises will improve my ability to the bike higher in the air? I know a lot of it is technique, but still… there must be some kind of explosive exercise to increase your bunny hop. Which one is best?

    Reply • January 12 at 1:07 am
    • bikejames says:

      @ Walt – the swing is the best exercise for teaching you to use your hips instead of leaning back to power a bunny hop. I’ve got the video demo under the How to Videos to the right side of the webpage to show you how to get the most from that exercise.

      Reply • January 13 at 6:37 am
  2. Darren says:

    Crossfit (the fittest crossfit man on earth) ….. Firstly they are not pull-ups they are kips there is a massive massive difference, its like doing bench press with no weight. Was the 3.6 k run on the flat? Generally the hill they use for these events is that step they exceed limits going down hill they would never be able to run unassisted.

    I have been sucked into all the crossfit theories in the past and I admit I did get stonger/faster on crossfit workouts but slower on my bike. I train with a powertap and lost roughly 5 – 6% power on my local 7k test hill.

    May advice (for what its worth) if you want to be good at gymnastics go to an ex gymnast i.e coach Glassman (crossfit founder) if you want to be a good mountain biker go to http://www.bikejames.com and ww.leelikesbikes.com buy their books and save yourself a load of cash on training with you local crossfit crowd.

    This is not ment to offend anyone, crossfit users etc I am speaking from a mountain bikers point of view only.

    Reply • January 14 at 6:32 pm

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James Wilson
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James Wilson