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Osmo PreLoad Hydration Mix

The hot summer temperatures are finally over in my area and now my morning bike rides start at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C). A few months ago when the heat index was running near 100 degrees (38 C) I was looking for ways to stay cool and prevent dehydration. Back in July, while I was watching the Tour de France, I saw Robbie Ventura interview Ben Caprom of Osmo Nutrition about their line of hydration products for athletes—the product that intrigued me the most was the Osma Preload Hydration Mix.

Osmo PreLoad Hydration Mix

Osmo PreLoad Hydration Mix

The Osmo PreLoad Hydration Mix is a pre-hydration drink designed for endurance athletes who exercise in hot conditions and is intended to reduce muscle fatigue and cramping. This product is a powder that you mix with water and drink thirty minutes before you exercise (some athletes also drink it the night before a big event). For the average man (150 pounds or more) you mix 2.5 scoops of the powder with 20-ounces of water. The “Pineapple & Lemon” flavor is rather mild and you can definitely taste the high sodium content of the mix—but if you make sure the product is served cold it doesn’t taste bad at all.

I used this product on many occasions this past summer on long bike rides on really hot days—and even though this is very subjective, I believe it helped me a lot. Not only did I not suffer the effects of dehydration that I would have expected from riding in such conditions, but I seemed to recover faster as well. Osmo PreLoad Hydration mix is not intended for daily use—it is for endurance events in hot weather.

I thought about trying to explain how pre-hydration works, but I couldn’t come up with anything better than the description on the Osmo Nutrition website. “Exercise, particularly exercise in the heat, places large demands upon the circulatory system. Concurrently, fluid and electrolyte losses and limited or inappropriate replacement during exercise further compromises performance; a 2% body water loss can equate to ~11% decrease in VO2max.  Pre-hydration with a high-sodium fluid has been shown to decrease cardiovascular and thermal strain, and enhance exercise capacity by several mechanisms: a) increased plasma volume—by the nature of increasing the amount of fluid available for circulation AND sweating/thermoregulation, a core temperature rise is impeded; b) the sodium+water combination reduces an osmoreceptor feedback mechanism, which further reduces core temperature rise.”

The ingredients list for the Osmo PreLoad Hydration Mix is fairly simple: Trisodium Citrate, D-Glucose, Sodium Bicarbonate, Sucrose, OsmoPL™ Beverage Base Blend (Sucrose, D-Glucose, Trisodium Citrate, Sodium Bicarbonate), Potassium Bicarbonate, Citric Acid, Magnesium Citrate, Organic Compliant Flavor, Lemon Juice Powder, Lemon Oil, Monk Fruit Extract, and Organic Pineapple Powder. All Osmo Nutrition products are made with natural and organic ingredients—and all ingredients are both GMO and gluten-free.

A 9.2 ounce container of Osmo PreLoad Hydration mix retails for $25 (enough for twenty 8-ounce servings, or eight 20-ounce servings). For me this is a little over $3 a serving and I am not going to complain one bit! A few dollars for a product that will lower core temperature and increase exercise capacity is certainly worth it! You can order this product from the Osmo Nutrition online store or Amazon.com.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Product Reviews, Sports Nutrition

 

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Nair Shower Power For Men (II)

Nair Shower Power For Men Hair Remover

Nair Shower Power For Men

I wrote this article two years ago, but since spring is finally here I thought it was worth reprinting since a lot of guys will be doing some manscaping real soon…

Sorry ladies, but this product review is not for you. There is nothing in this post that would be of the least bit of interest to you. Please do yourself a favor and skip this post and come back next week.

OK guys, now that the ladies are out of the room, let me tell you how lucky we are. Guys often joke about the reason their wife or girlfriend is in a bad mood. I have decided that female mood swings have nothing to do with hormones—they are just ticked off by the fact they have to shave their legs!

I’ve been cycling for ten years and had never thought about shaving my legs until this year. There are many reasons cyclists shave their legs, such as making your legs easier to massage, easier clean-up when you crash, and sometimes just to make your muscles pop. I decided to shave my legs so I could use embrocation creams when I ride in the rain or in cold weather (I like the DZ Nuts InHeat Embrocation Cream).

My legs are about as hairy as Bigfoot, so I trimmed them with a body groomer first. The very thought of shaving my legs with a razor conjured up images of the bloody shower scene in Scarface. So, I decided to skip the razor and take the easy route with Nair Shower Power For Men. This is a chemical product (like lye) that you apply to your legs, wait a few minutes, and then wash off the chemicals (and your leg hair) in the shower. The directions are easy to follow and if you follow them correctly most of your leg hair will be gone. However, along with the hair you are also going to lose a layer of skin and have chemical burns that make you look like you’ve worked in a damaged Japanese nuclear reactor. In addition, the next day you will probably have red bumps all over your legs due to ingrown hairs.

A 5.1 ounce tube of Nair Shower Power For Men sells for around $10 and is good for about two applications. I’ve used this product twice and will not be trying it again.

After talking with other cyclists I decided to try another product, Nair For Men Body Cream. This product is about half the price of Nair Shower Power For Men and is a bit easier on your skin, but still nothing I would recommend—too many ingrown hairs.

Finally, I decided to just shave my legs with a disposable razor. However, since I did not want ingrown hairs I shaved them with a Bump Fighter Razor, a product usually used by African-American men to prevent ingrown facial hairs. This product worked like a charm! The Bump Fighter Razor is not sold everywhere—I found mine at a local CVS Drugstore and then ordered the refills from Amazon.com. In addition to being a great razor the Bump Fighter Razor is a lot cheaper than Gillette Mach 3 razors and gives a better shave and I haven’t had an ingrown hair since I started using them.

 

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The RealAge Makeover by Michael F. Roizen, M.D.

The RealAge Makeover by Michael F. Roizen, M.D.

The RealAge Makeover

I am a 53-year-old distance cyclist and, according to the doctor at my last complete physical, my overall health is listed as “excellent” (i.e., I have perfect blood pressure, a low heart rate, a decent cholesterol level and all that other good stuff they look for in your blood test). Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. Twelve years ago I was morbidly obese and was being treated for problems with my lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys and a host of other conditions. In fact, twelve years ago my regular doctor told me that the way I was going I probably wouldn’t be alive in another five years! Surprisingly, he didn’t even make a single suggestion about how I could turn things around. Therefore, I decided to change my diet, start an exercise program and get in shape. I took up cycling, weight lifting and kayaking. My efforts paid off and I dropped 50 pounds rather quickly. I also read a lot of books on healthy living and somewhere along the way I found The RealAge Makeover by Dr. Michael Roizen and it changed my life! If you are looking for some guidance in changing your overall health then I would suggest, in the strongest words possible, that you pick up a copy of this book and carefully read every word.

The full title of the book, The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life, is rather long, but it sums things up quite well. This book not only tells you how to look younger, but how to feel younger as well. You will learn how to reverse arterial aging, boost your immune system, reduce stress, and increase your energy levels. The major premise of this book (as well as a few others that Roizen has authored) is that “70 percent of how long and how well you live is in your hands.”

According to his biography, Roizen is a professor of medicine and anesthesiology at SUNY Upstate and chair of the Division of Anesthesiology, Critical Care Medicine, and Comprehensive Pain Management at the Cleveland Clinic. If you were a fan of The Oprah Winfrey Show (I was not) you might have seen Roizen on one of her programs—usually along with Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Dr. Michael F. Roizen is also the co-founder of RealAge and chair of the RealAge Scientific Advisory Board. If you go to the RealAge.com Website you can take the RealAge Test, which is a scientific calculation of how young (or old) your body thinks you really are based upon your height, weight, daily exercise, education, stress, friendships, emotional health, the supplements you take, family history and a few other items. I took this around 2003, when I was 43 years old—the test claimed that my “real age” was 65! OUCH! I have taken the test several times since then, and as I have modified my lifestyle I keep getting younger! According to the calendar I am 53 years old, but according to the RealAge Test my “real age” is 43!

One of the things that Roizen keeps going back to is your diet and how it not only impacts your lifespan, but your quality of life as well. I thought a lot about this book a few months ago when my wife and I went back to our hometown and took our parents out for lunch. My mother-in-law is 90 years old and still shovels snow, cuts her own grass and keeps up an amazing garden—and if no one catches her she will get up on the roof to repair her own shingles. In addition, my mother-in-law is not on any medication and the only time in her life she has been in a hospital was over 50 years ago (when my wife was born). On the other hand, my parents are both around 80 and in very poor health—they now spend half of their time sitting in a doctor’s office or in line at the pharmacy waiting for a refill on one of their many prescriptions. While we were eating lunch I saw what I believe to be the major reason for the difference between our parents. My wife and her mother both ordered a simple vegetable platter—as is their custom. My parents both ordered a deep-fried appetizer, a deep-fried main course, and then they ordered desert (yeah, that’s the way I used to eat).

When I bought The RealAge Makeover back in 2002 I paid $25 for the hardback version, but now it is available in paperback for under $7 from Amazon.com. A hardback version is still available for $20, and a Kindle version for $10. By the way, some of the Amazon.com retailers have used copies of the hardback book available for only $4 including postage (they claim the books are in “very good condition”). The first edition of this book was published by HarperCollins in 1999.

Can The RealAge Makeover change your life? Absolutely! Will it? Probably not. I loved this book so much that I have bought at least 20 hardback copies to give as presents to friends and relatives who told me that wanted to “get in shape.” I am sure these people read at least part, or maybe even all, of the book. Unfortunately, I don’t think a single one of the people I gave the book to even attempted to make the needed changes in their life. Knowing what you need to do and actually doing it are two separate issues.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Book Reviews

 

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Finding Your Fitness Motivation

How are those New Year’s resolutions working out for you? A lot of people start a new year with the best of intentions to change their eating habits, start a fitness routine and get in shape. However, without constant encouragement from family and friends some people just can’t seem to stay motivated to exercise and eat right. I’ll go back to writing product reviews on Monday, but today I would like to help you find a way to stay motivated this year!

Welcome To My Gym

Welcome To My Gym

If you need a bit of motivation to help you reach your fitness goals I would suggest you follow some of the blogs I read (listed below). On the right-hand side of this page you should see a partial list of the over 200 health and fitness blogs I follow (so glad I took that speed reading class). I wish WordPress would rotate the avatars (or as they call them, blavatars), but at the moment they only display the last fifty blogs I decided to follow. These avatars usually show a photo of the blogger (sometimes a logo) and if you move your cursor over the photo it tells you the name of their blog and their tagline. I just started using the widget that displays these avatars last week and, unfortunately, as soon as these avatars appeared I stopped following two of the blogs because I felt their avatars were very demeaning to women (and the sad thing is both of the bloggers were women!). Here are some of my favorite blogs (and I am so sorry if I forgot to mention your blog)…

Cyclists and Triathletes: Kent Peterson’s blog, aptly named Kent’s Bike Blog, is the blog I have followed for the longest length of time. There are two Minnesota-based blogs I thoroughly enjoy, The Adventures of Joboo and His Trusty Pugsley and Bill’s Magical Mystery Tour. Rounding out the list is Sip, Clip and Go (Massachusetts), IowaTriBob (Iowa), Tracy at SpringfieldCyclist (Missouri), elisariva (Ohio), and Elizabeth at Triathlon Obsession (New York). Annie at anniebikes is seasoned commuter who also loves to tour (Vermont). A little further away is Kitesurf Bike Rambling (UK). Jim at Fit Recovery is a recovering alcoholic/addict—I am not sure where he lives, but his blog is great!

Fitness, Weight Lifting and Body Building: You will notice that all the blogs in this section are written by women. I am not a sexist nor am I following these blogs for aesthetic reasons. However, if I am going to read an article about weightlifting or body building I would rather have the photo next to the article be of a smiling female than of some dude flexing his muscles with a strained look on his face that makes me think he needs to increase his intake of dietary fiber. Lisa Traugott at She’s Losing It! became my hero when I read that she does 400 lunges a day with a 50 pound weight! Dani Cee is a certified personal trainer and works as medical content writer and nutrition adviser. Joy is a certified personal fitness trainer and she writes at joyfitnessandstyle. Sara, a group exercise instructor, writes at Shh…Fit Happens. Sarah, a certified group fitness instructor, can be found at Strong, Fit, Beautiful. Katie at Fit Butt Fabulous is a first-grade teacher by day, health and fitness enthusiast by life. Newlywed Laura at Fit And Busy has a great motto on her site, “If you don’t make time for fitness now, you will have to make time for sickness later.” Joanna at Sports Bras And Sippy Cups is a fit momma who lifts more than just babies! Heather at Run Eat Play writes about every day life experiences with exercise, food, and family.

Diet and Nutrition: Even though I am not a vegan I enjoy reading what Laura at The Daily Meal has to say. Christy at Christy Fit is a fitness instructor and model, but she also has several recipes for great protein shakes. Even though she is no Martha Stewart, Doctorate Housewife also has some great recipes. You should also visit Carrie at Fitness And Frozen Grapes for some healthy, great-tasting recipes. Katie at Gettin’ My Healthy On is not a professional dietician, but she does have wonderful recipes (and a killer smile). Dr. Madeleine Vanstory at Rants, Rules & Recipes has an excellent blog—she explains why diets don’t work and why most food is garbage (you really need to visit this site).

Interesting People: Anita Mac is a world traveler and I enjoy reading her posts at traveldestinationbucketlist. Heather is an “explorer” with four young children and she writes at 7feetnorth. Melissa lives in a “small town in Illinois” and blogs at Spicy Homemaker. Stephanie at The Stolen Colon was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1999 and her blog is both uplifting and inspiring. You should also see Anka at Keeping it Real and Melissa, a Michigan photographer, at Melissa Not Dusting. Erin at Hey Hey, Erin May is a designer, writer, marketer and all-over creative for hire. And last, but certainly not least, there is Irish Katie, a frequent commenter on this site and the proud mother of a teenage daughter.

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2013 in Life On Two Wheels

 

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The Athlete’s Guide To Recovery by Sage Roundtree

The Athlete's Guide To Recovery by Sage Roundtree

The Athlete’s Guide To Recovery

I am always amazed by cyclists and other endurance athletes who spend thousands of dollars buying the best equipment so they can get a competitive edge in their next race, but then neglect the steps necessary to help them recover faster after the event. A great bike ride doesn’t begin when you put your Lycra on—it actually started the moment finished your last ride. If you would like to improve your athletic performance I would highly recommend you buy a copy of The Athlete’s Guide To Recovery by Sage Roundtree (VeloPress, 2011).

This book is divided into three sections. The first section is rather short and deals with how we measure and define recovery. The second section is the heart of the book and deals with specific recovery techniques, such as nutrition, hydration, supplements, sleep, massage and other recovery aids. The third and final section discusses how to put all the pieces together.

One of the most valuable sections of the book is the one on Nutrition And Hydration (chapter 9). Most athletes have heard of the recovery window (AKA, the glycogen synthesis window). This window is the short period of time after exercise when, if you follow the right steps, your body can quickly absorb nutrients and give a jump-start to your recovery process. Consuming the right amounts of carbohydrates and protein after exercise will replenish your energy stores and help rebuild muscle fiber. I was surprised to find out that “female cyclists responded very differently than male cyclists when they ingested a recovery snack containing protein” after exercise. In addition, if you are a vegetarian you need to pay special attention to your protein intake since plant proteins are not digested the same way as animal proteins.

The section of the book on Technological Aids (chapter 13) discusses products like therapeutic ultrasound devices and electrostimulation (E-stim). A few years ago I bought both an ultrasound device and an E-stim unit and they make a world of difference in my recovery time. However, I know of very few cyclists who have invested in these devices—even though they are both cheaper than a good saddle.

If you suffer from muscle pain very often you are going to appreciate the section on Self-Massage (chapter 15). Not only does this chapter explain the importance of foam rollers and beaded sticks, but it shows you how to use them properly. You can buy a foam roller at most sporting good stores for around $30, and if you follow the instructions given in the book you can massage your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and IT bands and you will feel like a new person in just 15 minutes or so.

This paperback book is loaded with charts, graphs and tables (for my fellow visual learners). This book is very well documented and illustrated. There are some chapters that will probably tell you more than you want to know, but I am one of those people who likes to see authors “prove their work.”

Like most amateur cyclists, I’ve never had a coach or fitness instructor and everything I know about muscle recovery had to be learned the hard way. If I could have found a book like this ten years ago it would have saved me from a lot of grief and pain.

The Athlete’s Guide To Recovery is 248 pages long and retails for $19, but Amazon.com sells it for under $13. If I haven’t convinced you yet that you need this book, you can download a free preview of The Athlete’s Guide To Recovery from the VeloPress Website (see link the bottom of that page). The preview is a small PDF booklet that contains the table of contents, preface, and first chapter of the book, along with a few other sections.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Book Reviews, Sports Nutrition

 

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Vi Fuel (Product Review And Giveaway)

When companies ask me to review one of their products I always tell them that it takes about 30 days for me to evaluate the product and publish the article. Last week I was sent a few boxes of Vi Fuel Endurance Gel to review and it only took one bike ride for me form an opinion about the gel—it’s great! In fact, I started writing the review in my mind halfway through the ride. Let’s cut to the chase: Vi Fuel is a great tasting energy gel that is easy on the stomach and delivers a steady stream of carbohydrates to your body. At the end of this article I’ll tell you how to get a great discount on Vi Fuel so you can try it for yourself—and some lucky reader will end up with a three free boxes of Vi Fuel (see details below).

Vi Fuel Endurance Gel for cyclists and runners

Vi Fuel Endurance Gel

Vi Fuel is a carbohydrate gel designed for endurance athletes like cyclists, triathletes and runners. Vi Endurance, the company that makes the gel, is fairly new so don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of them before. They spent a lot of time researching what it takes for athletes to achieve optimal performance and I believe they have developed a product every endurance athlete needs to try.

One package (32g) of Vi Fuel delivers 100 calories with 23g of carbohydrates. The main source of carbohydrate is maltodextrin, and dextrose is the secondary carb source. This blend of carbs makes for very easy digestion. A lot of energy gels just fill you up with simple sugars that gives you a quick burst of energy, followed by a crash, and ending up with stomach distress. The Vi Endurance Website claims that Vi Fuel “has allowed people with Crohn’s Disease to resume training, as their systems can handle the digestion process of Vi Fuel with no trouble.” Each package of Vi Fuel also has a small amount of taurine, citrulline malate, magnesium aspartate, and potassium aspartate to reduce muscle fatigue and aid in muscle recovery.

Vi Fuel has the consistency (or viscosity) of honey and is available in three flavors: Chocolate, Vanilla, and Peach Cobbler. Since I am a cyclist and not a food critic I always dread attempting to describe the flavor of food products, but let me try. The chocolate gel is made with pure, organic cocoa powder and has a smooth chocolate flavor—it tastes like dark chocolate. The vanilla gel is made with real vanilla—not the cheap imitation vanilla a lot of companies use. The peach cobbler gel is my favorite and it is made with organic peach extract (and a hint of cinnamon).

When the folks at Vi Endurance first approached me about writing a review they asked if I would be willing to include a special discount code in the review for my readers. They also inquired about me offering a product giveaway (something I’ve never done before). However, I did not want to commit to either of their offers until I  tried their product. Now that I’ve had a chance to use Vi Fuel on several rides I am willing to highly recommend to other athletes (if you’ve read many of my reviews you know I seldom “highly recommend” anything). So here’s the deal: Vi Fuel is not available at many bike shops yet, so the best way to order it is from their Website. A box of 24 packages of gel sells for $32 (a very competitive price). When you place your order just enter the code listed in the graphic above and you will receive a 25% discount on your first two orders (sales tax is added only for orders shipped to a Colorado address). The discount code is placed inside the graphic to keep Google from reading it and giving it to the whole world. It is obvious that the code can be traced back to this blog, but I assure you that I have absolutely no financial interest in the company. For those not familiar with this blog, I have no sponsors, paid links or advertising.

Vi Fuel Endurance Gel Discount Code

Special Discount Code Listed Above

Now for the product giveaway! Vi Endurance is going to give one box of each flavor (three boxes total) of Vi Fuel to the winner of this contest. To enter all you have to do is pick a number between 1 and 200 and enter it in the comment section below (you don’t actually have to make a comment). On November 30, 2012 I am going to have a friend of mine, a local business owner, use of random number generator to pick the winning number. If no one has the exact number the person with the number closest to, but not over, the winning number will get the box of Vi Fuel. In case two or more people chose the same number the first person to pick the number will be the winner. This contest is for U.S. residents only and only one entry per household allowed. When the contest is over I will publish the results in the comments section of this article.

 
 

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Universal Five-Position Weight Bench (UB300)

Even the most dedicated cyclist will normally cut back on their mileage during the winter. Most of us use our extra “free time” engaging in some other athletic endeavor—usually we turn to weight lifting to help develop core strength. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I used to workout on weight machines, then turned to resistance bands before finally settling on free weights. If your workout centers around the use of dumbbells then you need a good weight bench. A few weeks ago I switched from an old flat bench to the Universal Five-Position Weight Bench.

Universal Five-Position Weight Bench (UB300)

Universal Five-Position Weight Bench

The Universal Five-Position Weight Bench can be adjusted for use as a flat bench, incline bench or decline bench and has five bench-back settings (-10°, 0°, 15°, 30°, and 45°). Unfortunately, this bench does not offer a 90° angle (I would like it for the seated dumbbell shoulder press). This bench has two 8″ foam rollers to hold your feet in place when needed. The padding on the bench is adequate for the job—it is thick enough to prevent pain, but thin enough to not get in the way.

Five Bench Settings (-10°, 0°, 15°, 30°, and 45°)

Five Bench Settings (-10°, 0°, 15°, 30°, and 45°)

This bench comes unassembled, but it only took about 30 minutes to put together. If comes with a pair of really cheap, disposable wrenches that you can use when you put the bench together. However, you will save yourself a lot of aggravation if you just grab two adjustable wrenches from your garage and use them instead.

Weight Limit on the Universal Five-Position Weight Bench

This Bench Has A 430 Pound Weight Limit

The Universal Five-Position Weight Bench is fairly compact (51″ L x 17.5″ W x 25″ H) and doesn’t take up much room—when not in use I stand my bench up in a corner of the family room. This bench has a maximum user weight of 250 pounds. A sticker on the bottom of the bench warns that the combined weight of user and equipment should not exceed 430 pounds.

The only complaint I have with this bench is that it is going to be too small for some people. I am 5’10″ and this bench barely fits me—I think anyone over 6′ tall should look for another bench. Though not a deal breaker, the gap between the seat and the adjustable back piece is larger than it needs to be.

The Universal Five-Position Weight Bench has a retail price of $170. I bought mine from Amazon.com for $99 and got free shipping (it arrived just three days after I ordered it). Walmart.com sells this product for $99 as well, and you can have it sent to your local Walmart for in-store pickup. If you enjoy burning money you can also buy it from Sears.com for $214 (shipping starts at only $55). By the way, Universal is a brand owned by Nautilus, Inc. (they also own the Bowflex, CoreBody Reformer, Schwinn Fitness, and Peak Fit System brand names).

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Product Reviews

 

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Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

I am a cyclist, not a bodybuilder. I lift weights to develop core strength, not because I enjoy it. I have no delusions about appearing on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine (though I am still holding out for Archaeology Today). Exercising outside in the snow and ice beats an indoor workout any day of the week. That being said, one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my health was the purchase of a pair of Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Each Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbell adjusts from 5 to 52.5 pounds (in 2.5-pound increments up to the first 25 pounds). Because of the beautifully designed dial system you can change the weight of a dumbbell in a matter of seconds. Each dumbbell has fifteen different weight settings available (5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, 17.5, 20, 22.5, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, and 52.5 pounds).

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Just dial in the weight you want and lift!

To select the desired weight for a dumbbell all you have to do is turn two dials—one at each end of the dumbbell. As you pull up on the handle the unneeded weights stay in the storage tray. In several months of use this product has functioned perfectly. You can switch weights on these dumbbells faster than you can on a resistance machine or when using resistance bands.

A little over ten years ago, when I decided to regain control of my health, I took up cycling and bought a rather large home gym that took up a lot of space in my family room. I got rid of that machine two years ago mainly because of the time we lost power during a blizzard and couldn’t use the fireplace to heat the house because the home gym was in the way (it was a big machine). After getting rid of the monster machine I started using resistance bands for strength training—they do a decent job of maintaining muscle tone, but I never showed any real progress while using them. The Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells work far better than I expected and I would highly recommend them to anyone. They take up very little room and are a pleasure to work with. This product also comes with a DVD that shows how to correctly perform over 30 exercises.

Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells

Bowflex Dumbells are really easy to use

I purchased my Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells at a brick-and-mortar Dick’s Sporting Goods store. I went into the store with the intention of buying the PowerBlock Classic Adjustable Dumbbell Set, but didn’t like the way they felt in my hands. The Bowflex set has a very comfortable grip and after trying out both sets there was no question that I wanted the Bowflex. The suggested retail price of these weights is $450, but Dick’s Sporting Goods sells them for $400. However, I wish I would have checked Amazon.com first—they sell the set for $300 and offer free shipping!

Bowflex SelectTech 2-in-1 Stand

Bowflex SelectTech 2-in-1 Stand

If you decide to purchase the Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells I would highly recommend that you also buy the Bowflex SelectTech 2-in-1 Stand. This stand holds your dumbbells at a comfortable height and makes using the weights a lot easier than if you keep them on the floor. This stand retails for $170, but I bought mine from Amazon.com for only $135 (including free shipping). This stand comes unassembled, but it took less than 30 minutes to put together. It also has a small towel rack to keep you from throwing a wet towel on the floor.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Product Reviews

 

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Honey Stinger Energy Bars

Honey Stinger nutritional products have been a part of every single bike ride I’ve taken in the past few years. Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gels are the only carbohydrate gels I ever buy, and the highly addictive Honey Stinger Waffles go with me on every ride. After a bike ride I always need some protein, and the Honey Stinger Protein Bar is the only protein bar I ever buy (the Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond is simply awesome).

Honey Stinger Energy Bars

Honey Stinger Energy Bars

The folks at Honey Stinger recently sent me a box of one of their newest products to review, the Honey Stinger Energy Bars. While these bars are not strictly either carbohydrate or protein bars, if you enjoy natural food products I think you will find a place for them in your pantry. These bars are made with over 30% honey and offer 10g of protein, along with 22 vitamins and minerals, calcium, and antioxidants. These energy bars average about 180 calories per bar, and 30 to 50 of those calories are from fat. All Honey Stinger energy bars are Kosher certified (OU-D).

I sampled each of the four original Honey Stinger Energy Bar flavors (Peanut Butter’n Honey, Berry Banana Buzz, Apple Cinnamon and Rocket Chocolate). While I liked all of them, the Berry Banana Buzz was my favorite. Honey Stinger has recently introduced a new flavor, Blueberry Buzz, but I have not tried that flavor yet.

I mainly use these bars as a between-meal snack—they are also great to take to the movies with you! While you might also use them during exercise, I need to mention one thing that might impact cyclists in particular. Both the Peanut Butter’n Honey and the Rocket Chocolate have a chocolate coating on the bottom of them, while the Berry Banana and the Blueberry Buzz have a yogurt coated bottom. These coatings have a fairly low melting point and if your store the bars in one of your back jersey pockets (like most of us do) then this coating is going to melt. Therefore, it would be best to keep these bars in a seat bag or top tube bag while cycling.

Anytime I review food products I like to give the ingredients list. I am not going to give the list for each flavor, but I will give it for my favorite, the Berry Banana Buzz Energy Bar. Ingredients: Honeystinger (Honey, Sea Salt, Water); Honeystinger Fruitsmoothie Blend (Apple, Banana, Cranberry, Strawberry Bits & Honey); Almonds; Soy Nuggets (Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Malt, Salt); Coating (Sugar, Palm Kernel Oil, Yogurt Powder {Cultured Whey Protein In Concentrate, Cultured Skim Milk and Yogurt Culture} Non-fat Dry Milk Solids, Soya Lecithin {an emulsifier} and Natural Flavor); Soy Protein Isolate; Vitamins and Minerals.

Honey Stinger Energy Bars retail for $25 for a box of 15. Because retail shelf space is always limited, I doubt if you find this product at your local bike shop. However, it is available from Amazon.com and from the Honey Stinger Online Store.

 
 

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Weight Training For Cyclists: A Total Body Program For Power And Endurance

Weight Training For Cyclists

Weight Training For Cyclists

The majority of cyclists I meet took up the sport to improve their health. There is no question that cycling will improve your aerobic fitness and endurance, but it will very little for upper body fitness. Even if you have no intention of ever participating in a race you still need to engage in some sort of resistance training to improve your sprinting and climbing, as well as increasing your bone density (cyclists have a tendency to develop low bone density). While there are many good books available on developing a weight training program, there are very few that focus on the special needs of cyclists. The best book I’ve read on this topic is Weight Training For Cyclists: A Total Body Program For Power & Endurance, by Ken Doyle and Eric Schmitz.

Some people mistakenly believe that cycling and weight training do not make good partners—they think that building bulk is counterproductive to the goal most cyclists have of being as light as possible. However, without a strong core you are going to have trouble every time you ride! Strong lower back and abdominal muscles are crucial if you want to ride very long in the drops.

Weight Training For Cyclists starts by explaining the pros and cons of the different types of resistance exercise equipment that are available (free weights, resistance machines, and resistance bands). There are also sections on nutrition, safety, efficiency and how to develop a program based on the type of cycling you engage in. As the book observes, most cyclists are their own trainers and set their own training program.

If one paragraph from the book could summarize the premise of the book it would be this: “The main focus of a weight training program should be the lower-body muscle groups that create the force applied to the pedals. This area of the body, often labeled the ‘power zone,’ consists of the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, lower-back muscles, and abdominals and is the fundamental source of strength and power in cycling.”

There are more than 60 exercises described and illustrated in this book. My only criticism of the book is that it focuses too much on pieces of equipment that most cyclists are not going to have at home (back extension bench, high pulley machine, cable row machine, multihip machine, etc.). However, you can still get a great workout with a weight bench, a pair of dumbbells and a few resistance bands.

Weight Training For Cyclists is a 212 page paperback book and retails for $19. It is available on Amazon.com for $12 (and remember you can get free shipping on orders over $25). This book is published by Velo Press.

 
23 Comments

Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Book Reviews

 

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