Lance is Strong, but Working for Levi
Peter Park of Platinum Fitness in Santa Barbara is Lance Armstrong’s personal trainer. He spoke with Bicycling about how Lance is feeling with a day to go at the Tour of California.
Bicycling: The big question everyone wants answered is how was Lance in yesterday’s time trial? He was more than a minute behind Levi Leipheimer. Was he pushing all out, or saving it?
Peter Park: He wasn’t going 100 percent. He’s smart. As he gets older he knows he has to save it for later in the year when it counts. He knows when to push and when not to. Still, a lot of people thought he’d be disappointed with that, but I thought it was respectable.
BI: How has Lance been holding up through the Tour of California?
Park: He’s holding up well. He’s working a lot more than he’s used to, working for Levi. He’s doing a lot of monster pullsyou don’t do that when you’re a team leader. And he was miserable in the rain those first few days. He told me it was like getting in a cold shower and training for six hours. But he has good legs, and he’s never said, “God what am I doing here? I’d rather be home sitting with my kids on the couch.”
BI: So, no secondguesses about the comeback, huh?
Park: No, he’s into it. He’s riding well, and I think he’s exactly where he wants to be for this time of year.
BI: What’s his next big focus, the Giro d’Italia?
Park: Yes, the Giro, and then the Tour.
BI: When did you start working with Lance?
Park: Well, we’ve known each other for 12 years or so. But last Junehe moved to Santa Barbara for the summer with his kidshe emailed me and said he wanted to do some workouts. At the time, he wasn’t even thinking of doing the Tour, but he wanted to do his charity racesthe Chicago Marathon and the Leadville 100. And he wanted to generally be in shape to be somewhat fit for those. He was 190 pounds when he came to me. And we did a lot of trail running and mountain biking and lifting and core work. After three or four weeks he started getting really fit. And the Olympics were on and he was watching 40yearolds win medals. Then the fire came back, and the cancer thing was the big part of it, to raise awareness around the world wherever he raced. Then it all came together.
BI: Once he decided to race full time, how did the workouts change?
Park: In the beginning we were just working on general fitness, a lot of pushups and pullups. When you’re 37 years old, you start to lose muscle mass and strength. We wanted to iron out any asymmetries and issues. His hip flexors were tight and hamstrings were weaka lot of cyclists are really quad dominant. They don’t work on what we trainers call the “posterior chain,” the hamstrings and glutes, and more like dead lifting motions. So we worked on the back and the gluteswhich is very important for your back. In cycling you use a lot of lower back and glutes. We did some quad stuff but mostly worked on that posterior chain part of his training much more: Singleleg dead lifts, dead lifts, bridging, kettlebell swings and all that kind of stuff to get his posterior strong and that helps loosen up his hips.
BI: He seems really big and buff now, like he has muscles on muscles. Is there any concern that his upper body might be too big?
Park: Everyone says his upper body looks big, but when he used to come to Santa Barbara in February or March when he was with Discovery or Postal, he was a good 7 or 8 pounds heavier then than he is now. He weighs about 165 or 166 right now, which is actually light for him. But people are used to seeing him at the end of July when he’s at his peak. He’ll continue to lose weight as the season goes on. But actually he’s not big for this time of year.
BI: Are you still doing offthebike workouts with him?
Park: No, now all of his training is on the bike, because his body can’t recover from both types of training. We worked really, really hard from late June through the end of December. You know Lance, he never misses a workout, so we went two to three times a week during that time. He built the strength in the weight room, and now he’s using that strength on the bike, and he’s really strong for this time of year. But now he’s only on the bike.
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