Category Archives: Fitness Blog

Does Strength Training Even Matter?

If we think of strength training as just picking heavy things up, then athletes won’t reap the benefits strength training can offer their in-sport performances.

Strength training for endurance athletes is still a bit of a lightning rod of a topic for many athletes and coaches. There are still many misconceptions and misunderstandings about why strength training is important for athletes of all sports, and there are even more misconceptions about how to incorporate strength training for optimal endurance sport results.

Let’s delve into some of the common arguments against strength training for endurance athletes.

“Endurance cycling and running has nothing to do with strength or how much one can lift, it’s completely irrelevant. It’s to do with oxygen turnover efficiency, movement economy in gait.”

Strength, is never completely irrelevant.

Lack of strength means joints, bones, and other tissues of the body will be stressed beyond their designed purposes and abilities, leading to a bevy of injuries including life-long joint, bone, and tissue problems, which could and should have easily been avoided.

For those who believe strength is irrelevant, they have missed the premise of the proper role strength and resistance training has in the overall preparation of the individual.

Strength can be defined in a variety of ways, and while yes, oxygen turnover efficiency and movement economy in gait do have big impacts on endurance performance (in running and triathlon), strength training, when done properly, allows the individual to increase and improve intermuscular and intramuscular coordination—two key tenets of becoming a better athlete.

Those who believe strength training and strength are irrelevant to endurance sports most often tend to see training tasks a purchase (“If I do X, I automatically will receive Y”) as opposed to what it really is: an investment.

Strength Training, the Investment

Investments take time, and do not have immediate expected responses. Rather, when we make an investment, we do so knowing that the most likely outcome of this investment will be Z, but we don’t know how soon that desired outcome will be realized. While this is due to external factors (injury, illness, lack of sleep, etc.), when it comes to making the investment, the individual must consciously and conscientiously take part in each and every training task. This might be on-bike skills or focusing on running technique (which the vast majority of cyclists and triathletes neglect completely), or strength training tasks.

Investments need to be balanced in order to see best returns, which means they should be composed of a few different parts—each which level out the risk and rewards which the individual seeks, and oftentimes do not share many similar characteristics (i.e. stocks vs. bonds, or in our case, strength training vs. energy system training).

However, investments offer relatively “known rewards” based off of the actions of the investor, so long as they pay prudence to understanding the risks which they take on with each investment vehicle.

Continuing the comparison to investments (stocks and bonds), think of your in-sport training sessions focusing on in-sport skill, energy systems, and cardiorespiratory fitness as stocks. They offer the biggest reward towards our desired outcome, but also carry much volatility (getting sick or injured leads to a quick and fast loss of some abilities), but should be the primary focus of our athlete portfolio.

Strength training, when done properly for the athlete, are like bonds. They give us a low-level response, but one which steads the boat. In our case, this means it lowers our risk of injury due to poor posture and strength imbalances, while giving us low, steady returns (improved recovery, decrease wearing on joints, improved posture for in-sport tasks).

Avoid Adapted Strength Training Programs

The other part of this mindset that strength training is irrelevant for endurance athletes tends to be from looking at the strength training programs that have been adapted to help cyclists and triathletes.

I’ve seen these programs, and frankly very few of them constitute good training for anyone outside of a bodybuilder, or a general health and wellness client. Case in point, TRX tricep extensions and bicep curls should not be included in a strength training program for a cyclist or triathlete, yet they almost always are.

Isolation exercises for accessory muscles like these are a burn of the athletes time, focus, and most importantly energy, and should not be included unless or until it is 100 percent apparent there is no other way to get the desired result to improve coordination.

These isolation exercises have not been carefully weighed as to their value in the overall training scheme towards that athletes specific training needs. And in fact, these specific training tasks are an utter waste of the athletes time and energy unless a movement assessment and analysis have been performed to find that this particular athlete needs this specific isolation exercise.

Strength training should focus in on the tissue properties, biomechanical movements, and muscular imbalances that a specific athlete has at that point in time, for those specific in-sport challenges. This must be paired with in-sport technique or training work to harbour those effects into sport-specific abilities.

“Being stronger (being able to lift heavier weights) doesn’t necessarily translate into being a better runner or cyclist.”

This quote is absolutely correct, yet this is where so many coaches and athletes are misguided. I spoke a bit at length about this in regards to strength training for runners at the elite level. While it may be difficult for some to comprehend, we must think about strength training in regards to the sport properties, sport skills, energy systems, and neurological needs which have to occur in order for us (or that athlete), to improve in that sport.

Sport Skill

The missing link here is that of “sport skill”—one of the five interrelated components of producing sports performance:

  1. Endurance
  2. Strength
  3. Speed
  4. Skill
  5. Flexibility

Endurance athletes’ main goals from strength training programming is not to lift heavy things as deemed “heavy” by the general world at large. If we take a single task (such as the deadlift for example), and look at it from a sports performance standpoint, we should be able to quickly understand that training our cyclists and triathletes to get “stronger” at this task will in fact allow them to hold desired postures on the bike, due to better balance of the muscles at primary involved joints.

Stop thinking about strength training as just barbells and dumbells and start thinking of it as challenging the organism as a whole to execute multi-joint movements that require intramuscular and intermuscular coordination in ways which the athlete does not see in their sport, but will improve the athlete’s overall neuromuscular capabilities to carry out the desired tasks. This will help balance out the repetitive nature of their chosen sport in a way that will allow the body to decrease the demands placed on the involved structures, and allow the body to function better as a whole.

“Why do we see so many lower body (specifically lower leg) injuries in athletes, but yet we’re so worried about how “strong” we are for lifting weights? Many athletes can lift heavy regardless of whether they’re injured, but as soon as they run any distance they’re injured again, yet they’re only carrying their bodyweight. This shows the relevance of vertical lifting!”

This is probably my favorite of all the arguments against strength training, as it hits on the need for intelligent strength training programs. This includes time and instruction to help your athletes improve their sport-specific biomechanics, and thus decrease their risk of injury.

I have seen, and continue to see, countless athletes from around the world who come to me because they’re doing strength training for cycling/triathlon/running, but are still getting injured. When we go through a movement assessment and their in-sport movement analysis, we see broken biomechanical patterns, poor technique for their sport, and lack of understanding about what they really should be focusing on during their strength training and in-sport sessions to get better.

Focus on Technique

Miles and watts will come over time, when you put attention into getting your joints (and thus muscles), into positions where they can learn to execute tasks in ways they were designed, as well as more efficiently and effectively.

Many people hear strength training and automatically think it means moving heavy things, without a thought as to the technique, biomechanics, muscle balance at the involved joints, or the tissue qualities that need to be developed to help an athlete stay healthy and injury free for their specific sport.

This is not strength training for a sport, but just general physical preparation, which is needed for our athletes, but not throughout the training year.

Intelligent strength training programs look at the athlete’s in-sport demands, current biomechanical and strength imbalances, and seeks to improve the athlete’s overall abilities by not only improving the strength of the muscles used, but through allowing the athlete to retain or regain biomechanically advantageous strength ratios at the involved joints in the body, as well as improving posture.

The postural part of the equation, as well as teaching great breathing patterns, are the two most-often neglected aspects to strength training program design, which are left unaddressed in the vast majority of training programs for endurance athletes.

If you’ve taken either of my TrainingPeaks University courses, Strength Training for Cycling Success or Strength Training for Triathlon Success, you’ll notice that breathing and posture are spoken about quite a bit throughout each course. You’ll also note that I talk a lot about how strength training needs to allow the athlete to build strength-balance at the joints, and that joint position dictates muscle function.

But this isn’t all. You, and your athletes, also must work on their in-sport skill, including movement economy, and this means making running, swimming, and cycling technique skills an integral cornerstone of your training plans.


If you’re wondering why so many athletes get injured despite lifting heavy weights, you’re missing the premise that it’s not lifting heavy things that allows the athlete to see gains and increases in sport performances. Rather, it’s an improvement in the joint positioning due to better strength balance at the joints, along with better tissue qualities and improved abilities to maintain good posture and positioning of biomechanical advantage in their sport.

Should we continue to look at and think of strength training in simplistic terms of picking up heavy (absolute numbers) things, and putting them down, then yes, you and your athletes will not reap the massive benefits strength training can offer their in-sport performances.

That being said, getting too lost in the weeds of corrective exercises and not lifting (relative to the athlete’s abilities) heavy things with great technique, better breathing patterns, and with a steady eye on the principles which help us create sports-oriented strength training programs, you and your athletes can wind up missing out on the massive benefits and gains training has to offer.

Yes, strength training for endurance athletes matters, especially if you do it incorrectly, as it can lead to prolonged cycles of injury, lost training time, and frustration for the athlete and coach.

Is a Helmet Worth It? How Brain Injuries Affect Different Body Functions

If you ride bicycles, you may have an idea of just how much crashing hurts.  Crashing or being hit while riding your bicycle can be anything from simply embarrassing to majorly painful.  New riders may think that they’re skilled enough to never crash, but ask any bicycle accident lawyer and they will tell you there are many factors outside of one’s control, and the occasional crash is inevitable.

This is why bike safety is so important.  There are so many ways that bike injuries can linger or lead to lifelong issues that to ride without the proper safety gear is very unwise.  This is especially true for those who live in a large city like New York City.  Because NYC has such a large population, there are many more people and vehicles on the streets.  It’s much more likely someone will run into you or get in your way and cause a crash.

While broken bones will hurt and take time to heal, a head injury can be even worse.  Traumatic brain injury can be irreversible and make it difficult to function.  It can lead to vision and hearing loss, difficulty with memory, a lack of coordination, and can even affect your heart rate and ability to breathe.   Because each section of the brain controls different parts of the body, a brain injury can affect just about anything.

Bicycle Helmet

Bicycle Injuries: Would they have been prevented with a helmet?

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2009, 91% of all bicyclists killed in an accident were not wearing a helmet. That means out of the 628 riders who were killed that year, 573 of them weren’t wearing a helmet.  This wasn’t an abnormal year, either—the percentage of bikers who died in accidents and were not wearing a helmet has never been below 80% with the exception of the 2010-2012 statistics.  These statistics are actually the abnormality because, while 65 to 70% were not wearing helmets, another 16 to 17% are listed as “unknown,” meaning they may or may not have had some kind of protective headgear on at the time of the accident.

The most commonly injured bicyclist is a male over 16 years old riding without a helmet in an urban area.  Out of the 601 bikers who were killed in 2012, only 166 of them had a blood alcohol content level above .08 percent.  Most were completely sober.

What can be drawn from these statistics?  While it’s hard to say if any of the bicyclists would have survived their crash if they had been wearing a helmet (helmets cannot prevent neck or face injuries), it’s entirely possible some of them would have.


In many non-fatal crashes, there is a definite answer: helmets reduce damage to the brain.  According to a number of studies, head injuries account for over 60 percent of all bicycle-related injuries.  In a study done by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, medical professionals reported that up to 88 percent of these head injuries that resulted in brain trauma could have been prevented had the bicyclist been wearing a helmet.

Keep a Lid On It: Wear a Helmet – How to choose or replace a helmet.

Cheap or Expensive Bicycle Helmets – How much of a difference is there?

Bicyclist Fatality Facts – Statistics gathered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Precious Protection – The evolution of helmets over the years and what designers have learned.

What You Need to Know About Bicycle Helmets – Helmet safety for children and adults.

TBI Infographic

Brain Areas and Associated Functions

Damage to the brain can lead to many different difficulties and lifelong issues.  The brain controls everything about the human body.  As such, damage to the brain can affect any part of the body, even changing a person’s behavior and abilities.  The brain can be divided into six different areas.

The brain stem is the term for the lowest part of the brain that connects to the rest of the body.  Because it connects to the neck, the brain stem is fairly vulnerable.  Damage to the brain stem can lead to many different physical problems, including a loss of balance and the ability to sleep.  It can also cause an irregular heartbeat, breathing problems, and difficulty with swallowing.  The brain stem controls blood pressure, body temperature, sweating, and digestion, too, and any or all of these functions can be affected by damage.

The cerebellum is the part of the brain that coordinates movement, balance, equilibrium, and helps with reflexes.  Those who have damage to their cerebellum may have difficulty performing complex actions or, in the case of major damage, basic actions like walking.

The frontal lobe is where much of our thinking occurs.  It controls things like how we perceive our environment, our emotions, our language, and how we understand concepts and solve problems.  A head injury that affects the frontal lobe can make it very difficult to function.

The parietal lobe handles many of our senses, including touch perception and our ability to manipulate objects.  Damage here can throw off how the senses work together.

The occipital lobes are concerned with one function: vision.  Damage to these lobes can lead to a loss of vision and blurred vision.

Finally, the temporal lobes handle hearing, memory, emotion, and the processing of verbal information.  Light damage can cause a decrease in hearing or in memory, while major damage can leave someone unable to express emotion or remember much of anything.

Understanding Brain Injury – What you should know about brain injury recovery.

How Your Brain Works – An informative slideshow from the Mayo Clinic.

Brain Basics: Know Your Brain – A look at how the brain functions.

Living with Brain Injury – The difficulties a brain injury can cause and how one can adapt.

Traumatic Brain Injury – What can happen when the brain is injured.

Brain Lateralization

Parts of The Brain and Their Functions – How will brain damage affect your functionality?

The Four Lobes – What they are and what they do.

Brain Structures and their Functions  – An online resource on the brain.

Damage to the Frontal Lobes – How an injury to the frontal lobe affects a person.

Parts of the Brain and Their Functions – Details the different sections of the brain.

While being injured in a bicycle crash may be inevitable, wearing a helmet can greatly reduce the chances or severity of brain damage.  In many cases, a brain injury doesn’t just affect one area—several parts of the brain can be damaged, leading to a number of different problems for the bicyclist.  Why risk that?  A helmet is a fairly inexpensive and easy to wear piece of equipment that can provide a great amount of protection.  It seems a risk that few people should be willing to take, yet many people ride their bikes without wearing a helmet.  Even worse, a number of parents let their children ride bikes without proper safety gear.  No one is too young or too old to wear a helmet.

Don’t open yourself up to brain damage from a bicycle injury.  Purchase and wear a helmet whenever you ride.

**This article came from Dansker & Aspromonte Associate Website.

Staving off decline with a trip to the gym

** “As seen in the Vancouver Province Newspaper on January 8, 2017” 

Personal trainer Svetlana Pelletier works with Lois Keebler, 69, in Vancouver to improve her balance, muscle strength and bone density through resistance training. Keebler says she recently started to slip on an icy sidewalk, but was able to right herself without hitting the ground. She credits that to better balance and overall fitness.









With half of Canadians over 40, simple demographics have put exercise geared to older adults on the last three annual top-10 list of fitness trends compiled by Canfitpro, a national training and certification company for fitness professionals.

“From a business perspective, it’s at that stage where you can’t really ignore that market anymore,” says Colin Milner, CEO of the Vancouver-based International Council on Active Aging, an organization that promotes healthy living after middle age.

It’s also linked to a change in the way we define healthy aging more in terms of keeping as active as possible rather than the absence of disease, Milner says.

“Today we are living longer — many of us thriving — with diseases which once killed us. But if you lose your functional abilities — you’re not able to stand up, you’re not able to get out of bed — you lose your ability to function day-to-day. Life is very different.”

Fitness goals vary widely, from people who have stuck with a vigorous routine for years to others who want to garden, play with grandchildren or get up off the floor if they need to, he says.

Personal trainer Svetlana Pelletier (right) works with client Lois Keebler. ‘Older clients are much more focused,’ says Pelletier. ‘They have a goal to stay independent, so they’re much better clients than younger ones.’








Svetlana Peltier is a Vancouver personal trainer with BodyAge Fitness who has specialized in working with older adults for about half of her 30 years in the industry. She says she’s observed more interest among both clients and trainers, particularly as people retire to the West Coast specifically because they can be outside more to play sports or enjoy nature.

“It’s a perfect environment to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” she says.

“The reality is we’re all getting older and if you don’t use it, you lose it. You become dependant and this is one of the biggest fears,” says Pelletier. “Older clients are much more focused. They have a goal to stay independent, so they are often more motivated than younger ones.”

Train Smarter – Not Harder!

Svetlana & Michel Pelletier


“Age is nothing but a number!”

Since more and more older people have been exercising regularly, the fitness scientists have been able to perform studies on these “ Super Seniors” in an effort to find out what makes them tick…

And since social media has become such an integral part of most people’s lives, we have the opportunity to quickly find out about these Health & Fitness Superstar and be motivated by the fact that the studies are proving that “Consistency of training” is the main explanation for their amazing results!

One of my Hero is this 106 years old French cyclist, Robert Marchand, who is still riding around 3000 miles per year. He has been setting cycling age records since 2012 and he recently set a new “over- 105 age group” one hour track cycling by covering 22.547kms within that time. Here is a link to some of his story:

On the female side, this 80 years old body-builder is also showing that, as she says herself “ Age is nothing but a number!” ;

By reading through the studies which have been done using many of these “Super Seniors”, one quickly realize they do not utilize “ secret training methods or any illegal drugs” to achieve their results. Read how these 4 men are proving that “ Age is just a number” :

It basically comes down to:

  • Regular workouts and the enjoyment of being active.
  • Enough recovery
  • Proper nutrition

It may sounds too simple to be real, right? I must say, I used to also believe these “Super Seniors” must have been born with the right “fitness gene” or some other kind of improved biological make up which allows them to be these special people. However, the more I get to know some of these local “ Super Seniors”, the quicker I realize that they have basically been following the same type of Health & Fitness Plan I and all our clients are on. They have simply been consistently on that training/life plan for a much longer time than I have…

I found it somewhat refreshing to realize this fact. I have just turned 50 and I, DEFINITELY, want to be fit and active for many, many… more years.

To read that Robert Marchand was able to increase his VO2 capacity after the age of 100 by following a systematic training plan had a major impact on how I have started to look at my present training plan. The statement “ I am in this for the long haul” has a whole new meaning to me.

I hope the little post will also make you realize that Consistency of training is definitely the key to long term Health & Fitness. Get out there and have fun working out!

Happy Training.

Train Smarter – Not






Michel Pelletier

Indoor Rowing is good for your body and your mind!

              Bodyage Fitness Rowing Team members just finishing their event in the            “Beat the Beast” Indoor Rowing Championship!

Team Bodyage

The Scene at St-George’s School on Saturday January 30th, 2016!


Personally, I have been competing in this rowing championship since 2004.  The event is open to children from 14 years old to mature athletes of 80 years of age and beyond….

This year, Bodyage Fitness Rowing Team included 5 Rowers and 4 coaches.  The event consisted of rowing 2000 meters as fast as possible using Concept 2 ergometer.

As you can see from the pictures above, athletes from the same category are placed beside each other and the winner is the person who rows the 2000 meters in the shortest amount of time.

In the context of this championship, the indoor rowing machine is used as a tool to challenging oneself, both physically and mentally to row the 2000 meters piece as fast as possible.

But the use of indoor rowing machine may also serve many other health and fitness related purpose.

Here is a short list of some of the reasons why we believe indoor rowing should be part of the workout plan for most people interested in good general health and fitness:

Indoor rowing is a full body workout: When using an indoor rowing ergometer, the question isn’t which muscles are used, but which muscles aren’t used?

  • Lower body muscles: everything from the hamstrings to the quads, the gluteus muscles and even the calves are engaged when rowing.
  • Core muscles: The full torso is engaged during the rowing stroke, including the hip flexors and the erector spinae (back) muscles are used to power through the rowing motion.
  • Upper body muscles: The entire upper body is used while rowing.  From the shoulders to the chest to the back and biceps and triceps, . Indoor rowing is ‘easy to use’ functional fitness at its best!

Everyone can use the rowing machine, at any age:  There are no age limits to become an indoor rower.  I know people in the 80’s and even in their 90’s who are still rowing regularly. Since indoor rowing is a low impact exercise and easy on the joints, bad knees or bad hips are not a problem anymore.  And actually, since it’s easy on the body but yet provides a great workout, many people, recovering from an injury, are prescribed the use of the rowing machine!

Indoor Rowing definitely burns calories. Since rowing is both strength and cardio vascular intensive at the same time, your muscle mass and lungs/heart system are constantly challenged during your rowing workout. Depending on effort level, a 160lbs male will burn between 200 and 300 calories in 30 minutes of rowing.  And doing some High Intensity Intervals ( example: 30 secs rowing/30 secs off…) will greatly increase the amount of calories burned during and after the workout, due to EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption)

You can track your progress. Just like tracking your speed when running or logging how many miles you walked or rode your bicycle, you can track your distance, speed, calories burned and time on the rowing machine, too. And as you get fitter and stronger, you can begin to set yourself some performance based goals: how fast you can row a 5K or how far you can row in a set amount of time…

Rowing is good for the Soul! Many types of exercises have showed to increase positive mindset and decrease anxiety, and rowing is particularly relaxing due to its rhythmic nature. The repeated pull-and-push motion is very good for calming the mind! Listen to your favourite tunes while you row and spending time on the rowing machine will soon become your favourite activity!

Ok, ready to give the rowing machine a try?

To start with, adjust the foot pads so your shoe fits properly. The toe strap should be around the widest part of your foot, which often coincides with the bottom part of the shoe laces. Then grad the handle with an overhand grip and you are ready to row!

For further details on how to effectively perform the rowing stroke on a rowing machine, click this link:

Train Smarter – Row Faster!

Svetlana & Michel