This post takes up where my last post about cramps, Muscle Cramps and Me, leaves off.
First, I'm happy to say "no cramps" lately. That being said...up until recently I was still feeling that my calf and hamstring muscles were still tight while riding, as long as I knew my limits they would be kind to me. I say "up until recently" because I feel that I have the upper hand on the dreaded cramp by adding resistance training to my conditioning routine.
Good nutrition (which sometimes I still mess up and get Bonked) and stretching are big players in avoiding cramps. But something was still not right! A couple of months ago I started paying attention to the fact that, while simply standing, I could not do a full and hard contraction of my calf or hamstring muscles without them threatening to cramp. For a lack of a better understanding it seems as though my muscles had developed a "cycling memory". Any contraction of my muscles beyond what is needed to spin pedals would bring on a cramp like tightness. Even though I've been riding for some time without a cramp my calf and hamstring muscles seemed to get tight early on in a ride.
I though of my old weight training days and decided that a little resistance training might bring the ole muscles back into shape. All it took was a weeks worth of calf raises and hamstring leg curls using a simple elastic band to be able to do full contractions of my muscles without the fear of a cramp. It's been over a month now and it has made a marked difference in how I ride. The legs feels loose and I can push the pedals harder. I'm just about ready to join my son at the gym and really start working my legs with weights.