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Thread: Gym best practices

  1. #1
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    Default Gym best practices

    Just joined a gym. Having some long term knee problems just running barriers in cyclocross, what little running that equates to in a 40-60 minute race, wreaked havoc on my leg this season. Having an MRI Thursday but feel it will be negative. My gut says this is due to some type of muscle imbalance at age 41.

    Tried stretching yesterday and my IT band was as tight as a rope. So right now struggling a little bit to find a rhythm at the gym. Goal is to build strength for cycling specifically cyclocross.

    My knee doesn't feel strong. I've taken a 6-week break with no activity post-cross season but no improvement. I can ride it's just that my leg wasn't improving so I thought I would take a break to see if I could recover but now I'm jonesing to get back on the bike so I think I will start next week. Figured cross training at the gym couldn't hurt. Was 85% last cross season and want to be 100% for the upcoming season. But haven't been able to run for almost two years and even running about 200m a few months ago to test my leg I could tell it did damage so something isn't right.

    Would love any thoughts, tips, suggestions for using my time wisely at the gym.

    Weights

    Starting out doing 4-5 arm exercises low weight, high reps, focusing on form. Then I do legs the other day same drill just 4-5 exercises whatever machines are open e.g. squats and leg extensions, hamstrings etc.

    Cardio
    Struggling as my only real option is the elliptical trainer which I can do for about 45 minutes. I try to mimic cross country skiing and use the arm wands as much as possible. When it's a cool down I try not to support my weight but rather "run" in place without cheating. I do forward 75% and backward 25%. This is fine but it gets boring like any stationery machine does.

    Rowing machine I can last 3 minutes. I really struggle on the rowing machine although I wish I could do it more because I like the machine which uses water resistance so the swirl of water is a nice touch but I can't do anything approaching endurance. 3 minutes is an eternity.

    Stationery bike. I just can't with a Firefly parked at home.

    Treadmill. I haven't been able to run for 2 years which is why I'm in the gym so I don't really feel like walking on a treadmill inside so don't do anything on the treadmill for now.
     

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    It seems like that stretching and rolling would be a good start. A lacrosse ball can change your life.
     

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    dont know if it's applicable to your body, but my knees are particularly susceptible to tightness and injury when cold. when i work out i try and warm up slowly before putting any power down. when working out at the gym, lots of times i'll hit the steam room or sauna prior to a workout and lightly stretch to get everything loosended up and blood flowing. if your knees are bothering you, adding in a good solid warm-up time at elevated temps may help. just a thought.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    Quote Originally Posted by rec head View Post
    It seems like that stretching and rolling would be a good start. A lacrosse ball can change your life.
    Running seriously irritates my IT band as well. Best thing ever is the foam roller. Lacrosse ball for trigger point issues too. I know, I know, you asked for gym recommendations.

    There are so many options, I would recommend sitting down with a trainer and putting something together. I love kettlebells, medicine/slam balls to break up monotonous work outs.

    Bench/rows. Shoulder press/lat pull downs. Bicep/tricep. I try to lift opposing muscle groups each visit to the gym. As many muscle groups as my time allows. Don't forget abs and back.

    My legs are shaped like large tree stumps, so I don't worry about squats and such. My cardio covers legs, or the squats associated with the slam ball.

    Start easy/light. Nothing worse that an overuse injury right off the bat.
     

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    Is it the running that's causing the issue, or clipping out of the pedals far more often that's causing it?
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    Sorry to hear this. That sucks - I've had some nagging leg injuries in the past that took some time to heal and strengthen.

    If this was my knee/leg and it has been giving me this much trouble for this amount of time I'd see my doctor who would then recommend a specialist. The specialist would most likely forward me to a physical therapist who would then set up a program of slow, deliberate mobility exercises with stretching routines which would lead to incremental strength training. I think a pitfall of some is to go into the gym without a clear understanding of exactly what the problem is and without understanding the problem, you can't use targeted exercises to slowly strengthen and heal what is wrong. And too much too soon that is not a targeted regiment can actually do more harm than good.

    If it is indeed a muscle imbalance, you need to understand where the imbalance is and then understand what targeted exercises are required to strengthen that imbalance. Interesting reading here. This takes time and dedication too. There's a ton of good info online, but you still need to find exactly what the imbalance is so you know what exercises are best which brings you back to my first points above.

    The bare minimum? I'd be making an appointment to see a physical therapist and I'd have acquired that name from someone I know, trust and who had first hand experience with that physical therapist.

    Good luck!
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    Quote Originally Posted by David Tollefson View Post
    Is it the running that's causing the issue, or clipping out of the pedals far more often that's causing it?
    Once injured and this only happened once but I race XTR pedals (recently switched from Crank Bros) and on my city beater I have XT pedals - at this point the injury felt like a muscle strain or tear - and I went to run an errand 8km away and rode in cycling shoes and unclipping was impossible. The force to clip out of the pedal on my bad leg was excruciating. It felt like I was bludgeoning muscles on the side of my leg to twist out of the pedal. I've never noticed this disengagement on my road pedals and never had any pain/problems unclipping during a race. This was literally one ride but the last ride I did injured which was right after the cross season in December.

    Running didn't cause the injury either as I wasn't running at the time but wanted to. Before I was inured I could run a half marathon off the couch. I really enjoy running but haven't been able to for almost two years. What gets me most is I'm not able to run at the park with my kids and chase/race them. That is what I hate more than anything else. But I know the injury wasn't caused by running because I was 100% cycling at the time and wasn't running at all before either.

    Thanks for everyone's thoughts/feedback.
     

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    dont be the "naked guy" in the locker room.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    Quote Originally Posted by joosttx View Post
    dont be the "naked guy" in the locker room.
    Yes, this. And don't be the dick sitting on equipment between sets. Do work, move on. Last gripe, if you are strong enough to pick it up and do sets, you can set it down quietly.
     

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    That sucks man. Wait for the MRI results. Knee pain/injury rarely gets better on its own. Knee's tend to deteriorate pretty rapidly in my opinion. In the course of two years, I started with a partially torn meniscus that was not bad enough for surgery. Continued riding, and occasional running. Pain and weakness slowly got worse. Got an orthopedist to look at it, and he gave me cortisone shots into the knee about every three months with the caveat of "when the cortisone stops working it's surgery time." Cortisone worked amazingly well for about a year and knee felt brand new when under the spell of cortisone. Pain eventually became unresponsive to cortisone and I had a fairly involved surgery. Far more than a typical scope surgery. Meniscus repair and patella re-construction utilizing cadaver bone. Made the inside of my kneecap super smooth. Recovery to 100 % was only about three months, and now three years later knee feels perfect. Can ride/run without incident.
    All that said, your knee pain is probably going to get worse. Get a plan for it. Get an orthopedist.
     

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    Quote Originally Posted by joosttx View Post
    dont be the "naked guy" in the locker room.
    I've noticed there are 2 types of people in the locker room: those diligently getting dressed and dicks-on-parade naked older men who disavow towels and welcome eye contact. Creepy as fffffffuck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chad View Post
    Yes, this. And don't be the dick sitting on equipment between sets. Do work, move on. Last gripe, if you are strong enough to pick it up and do sets, you can set it down quietly.
    You know actually just second day in but I decided to sit on the machines. If no one were there I like to pick two exercises and alternate but it's more efficient to do your reps on a machine and leave then to have to readjust the position and weight every time. I try to look around to see if someone's eyeing my machine and will ask someone if they're waiting. But I leave my towel on the machine or bench and do my sets so it's clear that I'm done and have moved on. I don't know if this is right or wrong but there's nothing that I hate more than stepping away from a machine for 2 secs and then having to wait on someone or worse the unknown whether someone is using the machine or not. I think this is most efficient for everyone plus allows me to do the sets with less rest which is good workout wise to keep it focused and concise.

    I always pick up my weights and return them vs the guy who leaves them suspect on the floor.

    Not a fan of the heavy grunt guy. Impressive stuff bro but leave the grunting to Monica Seles.
     

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Gym best practices

    watch out for plantar warts....ie, wear flip flops judiciously in the locker room
     

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