The Knowledge is a new podcast from Wahoo. It provides straightforward, science-based, useful information from world-class experts to help endurance athletes maximize their performance. Sports scientists Mac Cassin and Dr. Jinger Gottschall discuss a single training topic in this episode and provide key takeaways to apply to your training.
Welcome back to The Knowledge Podcast by Wahoo. In today's episode Hosts Mac Cassin and Dr. Jinger Gottschall discuss how to apply your strength training to help maintain and support specifically your bone density. Is drinking Milk enough to support strong healthy bones? Does training more than 10 hours a week leave me susceptible to losing bone density? Find out in this episode of The Knowledge Podcast by Wahoo
Try the SYSTM Training App free for 14 days.
Have a question? Ask and get answers here!
Hello and welcome back to another episode of the knowledge podcast brought to you by the wahoo sports science team in Boulder, Colorado. I'm Matt Cassin, the senior sport scientist at a wahoo.
Jinger Gottschall 0:11
And I'm Dr. Ginger Gottschall, Director of Applied Research. Today we're going to chat about all the questions related to weight-bearing exercises for cyclists who are not a weight-bearing athlete, but we could also bring into the Convo all those of you who also do primarily water sports, so we can chat about swimmers Water Polo, synchronized swimming, even those folks that aren't doing consistent weight-bearing
Would divers count?
Jinger Gottschall 0:40
Divers? I think so? Yes, although they might end up doing some gymnastics as part of their training, which would be load-bearing, I'd have to ask. But the cool thing is that cycling and all of these water sports that we named have so many benefits, they allow you to improve your cardiovascular system, muscular system, tons of mental health psychological benefits. But the one thing that they don't really help or benefit directly is the skeletal system. So here we're talking about bone density, which is really the best measure of breaking risk. So if you have a fall, and you have low bone density, then you're apt to actually break a bone.
Yeah, that that low bone density is something that you know, you normally associate that with elderly folks, you could say,
Jinger Gottschall 1:30
And it's actually, you know, this is a very interesting topic. And I've actually had two roommates in college, who were both very high-level racers raced in Europe for a bit, both of them actually had to retire early, because they both had full-blown osteoporosis, which we'll get into more details on what exactly that is. And one of them is just a regular crash iteration Europe just fractured his hip. And that was the end of his career at 21.
Jinger Gottschall 1:58
Yeah, it is super scary. And we have a couple of really interesting stats for you. The first one of which your bone density is peak is actually at 30 years of age.
So I'm at my peak bone density right now.
Jinger Gottschall 2:10
Mac just turned 30. This summer, boom. Yes, unfortunately, Mac. Now, going on to the other side of that I'm not going to mention where I am on that curve. But another crazy stat about cyclists is that two-thirds of the professional and master athlete road cyclist can be classified as osteopenia, which is a pretty big number.
And so when we talk about there's osteopenic, and osteoporosis and osteoporosis is probably the term more people are familiar with osteopenia is poor bone density, but not to the extent of osteoporosis, which is where you can break a hip just by bumping into a wall too hard.
Jinger Gottschall 2:51
Exactly. So when you're thinking about a continuum here, where osteopenia precedes that osteoporosis, and it's a low bone density, it's also this microarchitectural deterioration of the actual bone tissue. And all that really means is that you're greater susceptible to a fracture. And we also want to make sure that you understand, it's not just those individuals who don't get any weight-bearing activity through their sport, you could also be genetically predisposed to this could have a lot to do with your diet, your hormone system, and then the environmental factors as we're talking about today. So cyclists who don't spend a lot of time basically getting impact from their lower body to the ground is who is at risk. And unfortunately, the cyclists who spend greater than 10 hours a week on their bike may actually be susceptible to losing bone density at a much sooner age and a faster rate after you do reach that peak.
I grew up being told that as long as I drink my milk, my bones will be plenty strong. What are you saying? Are you saying that's not true?
Jinger Gottschall 4:00
I am saying milk can help. That calcium and vitamin D definitely play a role in improving bone density. But it's probably not enough if that was all that you are doing. Now, what type of cyclists were you primarily Mack
Road and Track.
Jinger Gottschall 4:17
Alright, so another interesting tidbit in terms of cyclists is, road cyclists have a significantly lower bone density than a mountain biker. And mountain bikers out of all of the three that you think of a specific discipline within cycling has the highest,
It seems to make sense because they tend to when there's going down trails, there are some pretty decent impacts from time to time.
Jinger Gottschall 4:39
Exactly. It's interesting, really that vibration that you are absorbing helps with the loading of your bone. So then if we think about what's in between the mountain biker and the road cyclists then in between we've got the sprinters and the track cyclists. So
Yeah, when I switched over to track strength training became a really big component. Have my weekly routine. But even just the standing starts, we do, I think would be classified as good stress on the old bones.
Jinger Gottschall 5:07
Absolutely. I can't imagine that that sounds like it was going to be intense at some times. And the last little tidbit we're going to share before we get into some of the more specific academic details is that there was a study done with Tour de France athletes that actually showed that they lost 30% of their total bone density in just three weeks. And this was primarily at the lumbar spine and hip region. So it can actually play a toll pretty significantly in a short amount of time if you have no weight-bearing.
And that sort of makes sense, when you consider the Tour de France, that's three weeks of near-maximal physical exertion every day. So your body's going into recovery mode, probably more for your muscles. And especially since they're not straining their skeletal system, I mean, unless they hit the deck, but since they're not really straining that, you know, lumbar hip bone region, then their body's probably just not going to care about maintaining that.
Jinger Gottschall 6:03
Exactly. And you can imagine, after you're done with a day of riding the tour, you're probably not going to go for a little jog or lift some weights are going to be in that seated or supine position for the rest of the day.
Yeah, there's the old expression, if you don't stand if you can sit and don't sit if you can lay down and don't lay down if you can, or lay down and sleep if you can.
Jinger Gottschall 6:24
Yes, so I am imagining that's their motto, on all other times off the bike. So what we've gone over now is basically a summary of those individuals who we want to target and encouraged to perform weight-bearing exercises, this is people who spend the majority of their time sitting individuals who already have a low bone mass, that could be endurance athletes, that also includes women, and they are typically the individuals that just have a low mass in general.
So would that be because you know, there, there's going to be if you're a smaller person, you're probably putting less strain on your skeletal system just day to day life.
Jinger Gottschall 7:02
Exactly. If you don't have a lot of extra mass that you are impacting with every step, that actually gives you a smaller overall force per day, unfortunately. So in addition to those individuals with low bone mass and low body mass, we've also got the older adults we've talked about, so those that are over 30. But then we reach kind of another area in the curve, that bone density declines even more, which is over 50 any individuals who are at risk of falling. So those folks that have balance issues. And then obviously we've talked about cyclists who we're going to target today.
Yeah, and I think it's the risk of falling is one that that doesn't just apply to, you know, people who slip in the shower and have to have to hit their life alert because they've fallen and can't get up. You know, we've been talking about if you ride a bike, you're at risk of falling, you're at risk of coming off hitting the ground, and that low bone density. There's a reason you know, cyclists break their collarbones all the time. One, it's because that's how you hit the ground. But to if you don't have strong bones are going to be easier to break.
Jinger Gottschall 8:05
Yes, that is exactly it. So we don't think about cyclists as having balance issues. But they are constantly putting themselves in a scenario where their fall risk is higher, just in what you're doing. I mean, I always think about crits. That is one reason why I say I'm a terrible technical writer, to begin with. But I would be hitting the ground, every race guaranteed with those tight turns. So Matthew mentioned weight training that you would incorporate into your routine. Can you tell us a little bit about the different types of weight training that you could do if you wanted to increase your bone mineral density?
Yeah, so one thing that was important when I started shifting to more strength training is definitely took it slow and started with pretty low, low weights on stuff. And it was kind of annoying because I felt strong enough, but after every session, I'd be sore for a couple of days. So it's probably the right call. We do a variety of stuff and a lot of it would become pretty heavyweight, low rep combined then with a lot of plyometrics. So a lot of box jumps, hop as much as you can across this field and you do sled pushes and stuff like that. So it's pretty, there's a pretty wide variety that we'd focus on.
That's what's so cool is we have options. So similarly when we recommend that people do cardio exercise, and you can say ABCD these are all of the different things you can do. In terms of weight-bearing exercise max just named you can weight train, you can do that with a high weight low rep plyometric jumps. In terms of weight training, there's also kind of the opposite theory, which is very high repetition but low weight. And I did a study about four years ago that showed you could do this 45 minute routine of just super setting low weights, we're talking five to 10 pounds, but very high repetitions you're getting in over 500 reps in that 45 minutes. And that also Increases your bone density just as much as the high weight low reps. So you got options.
Jinger Gottschall 10:05
Part of that. Also, when you think about cycling, you might say, well cycling's a high rep, low, low weight activity. But I'm imagining here, one of the issues is like things so linear, that there's stress you're putting on your bones after a while just becomes it's the same stress. It's not really you're not dynamically moving. So you're not getting different angles of strain in your bone.
Yes, you are so right. And another little tidbit to that study was that we showed that squat specifically provided you with the most impact the most improvement, especially in those areas that we mentioned before that are tricky, the low spine and the hip. So squats, you can do it varying stance distances between your legs that provide that different type of stimulus and loading, which is super helpful. So what about can we just include walking or even hiking in this as an optimal weight-bearing activity? For cyclists?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, running is obviously going to be a higher impact than that. But cyclists are not known to be the best runners, if you're not careful, you can injure yourself. So just walking or hiking, I think you gave a really good example, when we were talking about for the show started like walking your dog is, is perfect. And you said, if you have a heavy dog, that's a higher impact as it's dragging you around. And I, that's a great reason to have a big dog,
Jinger Gottschall 11:21
Right, and maybe a big dog that's not as well behaved, it's pulling you just as an example, walking gives you about one of your own body weights of force per step, running level at a moderate pace. So we're saying eight minutes to a nine-minute mile, that's, that's three times your body weight, every step. And hiking downhill can be the same. So those are options that everybody can do. And it's really easy to incorporate into the training. And we also don't want to forget, if you love team sports, you can get out on the field, get out on the basketball court, place the lacrosse, bring your buddies out your kids the whole fam, and just get a little game on. And that also provides some interaction.
Dennis is another good one. I'm biased to that because I spent my youth believing I'd be a pro tennis player one day, definitely did a lot of and I can say there's definitely when you're running back and forth on a court, there's a lot of sudden jarring movements going through your lower body.
Jinger Gottschall 12:19
So Exactly. And what we want to encourage you is to find that weight-bearing activity that is fun that you isn't that you do enjoy. So as we kind of wrap this up a little bit, can you just be honest with me? How much do I actually have to do? Are there different strategies or methods that we could just give folks a bottom line,
Really, all you need is 30 minutes of one of those activities, we're talking about two times a week, as long as it's separated by 48 hours, you know, that's, that's adequate to maintain that bone health, that same time you can be hard to fit 30 minutes twice a week into your day. So even just more or less every day, doing five to 10 minutes of one of those activities. And it can even be something like jumping rope like you don't need a bunch of fancy equipment, you don't need to go to a tennis court, you don't need to have a hiking trail behind you. That's adequate as well.
Jinger Gottschall 13:15
It's so awesome. So in summary, we have said that bone density is important because it's a measure of your risk of getting a break. That there are multiple different weight-bearing activities that you can do in order to improve or not decrease your bone mineral density. And lastly, it can just be a couple of times a week, 30 minutes, or maybe a few reps five minutes a day. You're good to go.
Exactly and just like anything, you don't need to go out of the gates hot you can start slowly do one of these one time a week and just slowly build up to it till it becomes a part of your normal routine. Love it.
Jinger Gottschall 13:54
Totally awesome. So let's get out there. hit the pavement.
Thank you everyone for listening. This has been another episode of the knowledge podcast.