I am first and foremost a runner and cyclist. I ride 6,000 miles a year and run about 1,200 miles a year, and I have done that for a few decades now. I strength train two days a week because I know it’s going to help keep me healthy and is an important part of my overall fitness plan. I have never really lifted much on my legs because I do so much volume running and biking and I need to leave some space for recovery.
For four months, I have been doing regular Black Box VR workouts. For those of you who do it, you know there is no way to avoid working legs and have any chance of winning the battle, progressing in the game, or surviving a half an hour workout. This tested my previous thinking about going lighter on squats and deadlifts. But, being the new COO I wanted to experience all aspects of Black Box VR so I jumped in with both legs. Yeah, humor.
Because I log and document almost everything I do, I have an established base line for average watts on a bike ride and my per-mile running pace. With the help of the Black Box VR app, I am able to see the strength gains I have seen from the Black Box workouts and map that against improvements in my cycling and running. Let me show you my strength progression for squats in the last four months.
You can see right off the top from the graph I am gaining strength over time and with each workout (all of these stats are automatically tracked by the AI). My ORM, or one rep max, increased from 222 pounds to 265 pounds, that’s a 17% increase in just 12 weeks.
Another awesome feature is the Body Part Heat Map I get after every workout. This is important because as a runner and cyclist, I want to know that I am balancing my workouts between my hamstrings, quads, and glutes. You can see from the percentage of work breakdown that they are pretty close. Part of the genius of the game is if the AI detects you are underworking any particular body part, it will deploy champions that will help to bring the workout back to being balanced.
That’s all well and good, but the big question is how is this affecting my riding and running? With the help of the watt meter on my bike, I am able to objectively measure watt output and see change over time. Within the last four months, I have seen higher average watt outputs translating into faster speed and better endurance over longer rides. Subjectively, I feel stronger on the bike and I feel fresher when I am done. As for running, I don’t have the same means of measuring output, but over the course of April and May, I ran a little over 200 miles. I ran pain free and my average miles splits decreased a bit. Of course, there are other variables that contribute to all of this, but after doing this training awhile, I can tell doing the Black Box VR workouts is taking my training in the right direction.
People have all kinds of reasons to lift weights. For me, sure, I want to look good, but it’s also about being better at the sports I love to do. I have found that doing Black Box VR training gives me the structure and balance I need to make the most of my weight training time. Whatever sport you enjoy, I think you too will find that Black Box VR workouts are an awesome compliment and make the things you love doing even more fun.
On Strava you can find Ralph at @ralphrajs
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