T Nation

Serge Storms: Balance and Control



Cruising right along.

Crushed my Strava segment time trial over the weekend.

22mph for 11 miles. Then we went about 40 more miles.

I hit the wall at about mile 40. Bonk city. Cramped up in both quads and hamstrings at the same time. Try stretching your way out of that one.

I wouldn’t recommended this. Especially if you need to be able to clip back into the pedals and go for another ten miles just to get home.

I managed to get through it. It was pretty damn funny. In the process of trying to sit down and stretch my hamstrings, my abs cramped up. I was like a paralyzed fish, flopping around on the ground with one foot still clipped in the pedal. Had to give some church goers across the street a thumbs-up so they wouldn’t call 911.

Meanwhile, in the gym…

60-70 minute sessions. Every day.

40% dance moves/flow capoeira/breakdance/acro yoga/gymnastics
40% jump rope
20% dumbbells - 25-30 lbs - shoulders and arms

I hit a lifetime PR on consecutive double-unders with the rope last weekend…


(I think it was actually 210…may or may not have lost count for a short bit)

Weight is 184 ish.

Missing tennis, especially while watching the US Open. More tennis.

Hoka One One Shoes. I’ll never buy another brand again.

Rogue speed rope - stainless steel competition. Takes double-unders to the next level. Can’t use headphones for double-unders, because the ears must be engaged to optimize rhythm.


I’ve been on the bike on an indoor trainer using Zwift.

Averaging 100 miles/week.
Pushing hard to increase my sustained power output.
Enjoying the heck out of analyzing the data on Strava.

I’ve also been doing my breakdance/gymnastics/Acro yoga stuff. 2-3x/week for about 60 minutes.

I’m learning less is more with the power gymnast moves. My progress in the “zero-momentum push from standing to handstand and then super-slow negative to the caterpillar” has been astonishing. Upper body is fresher more often now that I’m not doing that shit every day.


5 hours 20 minutes on the bike this week. 100 miles.

3 hours 20 minutes in the gym: gymnastics/body weight stuff/light DB work for arms and shoulders.

Weight currently pretty steady between 184-186.

I’m not tracking my food all that often these days. Once I cross that 8-9 hour/week total workout time threshold, I can pretty much eat whatever I want.

The cool thing is that with such a high activity level combined with a high calorie intake, I can very quickly drop 3-5 pounds if I want to.

EMEM (eat more exercise more) is kinda my favorite way to go. It just takes some good time management to get that much training in. Early to bed, on the bike before 5 AM most says.


I have a torn medial meniscus in my left knee.

Likely will need surgery. MRI next week to determine how bad it is.

There was no moment of injury that I can put my finger on. Likely a combo of a worn-down meniscus and some kind of movement putting it over the edge. Pain started Monday, and by Tuesday, I could hardly put weight on it.

Time to shift focus to upper body muscle building. Arms, shoulders, back, chest, abs. Will log here. Maybe I’ll work on some pull-up strength goals, but mostly just plan to look for ways to push my upper body size and strength without messing up any joints in the process. I’m running out of healthy joints and creative workarounds, so I can’t really afford to blow out an elbow or shoulder right now.

Great lift this morning already. Lots of seated rowing from many different angles to work the upper back. Curls, abs, more curls, more abs.

Amazing how involved the knees are in stabilizing the body during upper/body work. I had to keep remembering to keep the stress off my left knee.


Thursday - 1 hour lift


Pushups - strict, super slow, full body tension

Feature bicep move was peak contraction squeezes on the low cable. Very small range of motion…feels like trying to get your bicep to cramp up, but under load. Pump so nasty, I thought I pulled my bicep muscle for a second.


I have no idea what happened to my knee last week.

Over the course of a few days, I developed severe pain on the inside of my knee. I couldn’t bend or straighten my leg, and I couldn’t put any weight on it. I went to an ortho doc, and he took a quick look and said it was very likely a medial meniscus tear. I have an MRI scheduled for Thursday.

As the week went on, my knee started feeling MUCH better. Today it feels almost completely fine…still hurts if I straighten it to lock-out and put weight on it, but otherwise it’s fine.

I did 20 minutes on the bike yesterday and 45 minutes this morning. Low-intensity, just testing things and and seeing what I can handle before I go back to my normal intensity.

Last week, when I thought I’d for sure be needing surgery for my knee, I decided to just go back to lifting and I hammered my upper body just about every day. It was interesting to re-visit the mindset I used to have when I was focused on building muscle. The technical aspects of joint angles, contraction techniques, and mind-muscle connection were engaging and fun. However, I really just don’t have a huge drive to build muscle for the sake of aesthetics anymore. I enjoy challenging myself to get better at athletic and gymnastic movements, but I just don’t care about looking jacked.

So, now that it seems like whatever happened to my knee wasn’t as serious as I thought, it’s back to what I was doing before. About 45 minutes/day on the bike, and 2-4 one-hour gym sessions/week where I focus on my power acro yoga moves, flexibility, pre-hab, breakdance moves, etc. Oh, and with the bike miles added back in, I can stop worrying about having to think about limiting my calories and focusing on macros again. That’s the best part. Not that 100 miles/week on a bike guarantees leanness, but it does just let me eat by feel instead of needing to track macros.


Back on the bike this week.

Here are the workouts from yesterday and today.

Goal of these easy rides was to just ease my knee back into riding without risking aggravation or re-injury.

To hold 20mph for an hour at a HR of only 120 is pretty sweet though. I usually ride at much higher intensities - 140 bpm on the low end, 170 bpm (sustained) on the high end. My power output on these easy rides is at about 65% of my FTP - Functional Power Threshold. FTP is kind of a big deal. The test to find your FTP is brutal and involves prolonged suffering.

M first FTP test result was 225 W. I got it up to 260 in a few months by kicking my own ass and suffering in my Pain Cave. Noob gains.

To me, cycling is pretty simple. The harder you’re willing to work and the more you are willing to push the suffering envelope, the faster and fitter you will get. That said, I do reflect on the WHY of getting faster and fitter.

Faster? I really don’t care. I’m not going to race bikes.

Fitter? Yes. But not for the purpose of improving performance in group rides. I’d like to improve my endurance so that the longest, fastest group ride I may ever find myself in still feels enjoyable and not painful.

Following myself down this rabbit hole a bit further…

Why am I even doing group rides? Why am I engaging in this particular activity in the first place?

I think it is rooted in the same deep motivations that drive all of my various athletic pursuits. Fear of getting lazy, slow, fat, and unhealthy, for starters. But that just gets me on a bike for an easy exercise ride. What drives me to try to take this to a higher level?

I don’t know…I enjoy the learning aspect along the way. Drafting at high speeds is super addicting. Developing the fitness to burn 800 calories in an hour without suffering really unlocks access to many more bowls of cereal. And more bowls of cereal is always good.
The solid feeling of strength in my legs as I walk up and down stairs is something I didn’t expect, especially since I thought my tennis days may have been tipping my knee health towards accelerated osteoarthritis.

This latest knee injury does have me considering a bit of a slower approach to the cycling improvement, though. I’m going to get an in-depth pro bike fitting and really pull back the reigns on high-end power output for a bit. I can still tap into noob gains along a different part of the power output spectrum. Tempo and endurance rides/base training. Not easy for me to stick to such a plan. I always like to go harder.

I can’t ride tomorrow, so will hit the Acro power move/upper body strength/prehab/hand balancing/gymnastics routine. Will be nice to feel super fresh after no upper body work for two days. Need to be careful with the knee, though. No breakdance moves.

Jump rope probably needs to be on hold until MRI results.


Morning hotel workout.

1 hour.

Strict slow press into handstands.

Cable: curls, tricep extensions, lateral raises, front raises

A few super slow pull-ups

Tons of machine shoulder presses

Tons of super slow sit-ups

Dumbbells: lateral and front raises and holds, curls, and tricep extensions.

Planks and a few super slow pushups

Great hotel gym, by the way. Chase Park Plaza Royal Sonesta hotel in St. Louis.

MRI on the knee tomorrow, even though it feels a lot better now. Not sure how many people put 20 miles down on a bike and then go straight for an MRI, but that’s what I’m planning.


^This has been my approach to pull-ups for a few years now. Might not be optimal for mass, but I think it’s just super badass to be able to do one single super slow pull-up with perfect form, where the speed stays consistently sloth-like at every position from the bottom to the top and back down again. Cardio fitness plays a big role here.


Morning ride - 45 minutes. AVG HR 149. Avg Watts 231.

Awesome ride, given where I am with the knee recovery.

I did crank the power to 850 Watts during a sprint segment that I was trying to PR. I should not be doing that. But I did. I was still cautious, I could go way higher. But it was a good test. Will see if knee reacts at all, but so far, so good.

I have my MRI results on a CD and a follow-up to review them scheduled. I have nothing to put the CD into, or I’d send it to some of my ortho friends for a preview. Can’t believe CD drives vanished so quickly.

Took yesterday completely off. Haven’t done that in a while.

Otherwise, legs, lungs, heart all felt good in today’s ride. Avg HR relatively low for the power that was generated, which is a good indicator of fitness.


Last two rides, yesterday and this morning.

I took three days off completely. Away for a conference and just not in the cards.

The knee feels pretty good. Today’s ride was a strong one. Heart and lungs feeling the effects of the missed bike sessions. Cardio fitness comes and goes very quickly. Legs feel fresh, though.

Fluff and fat also come and go quickly. A high baseline of cardio fitness and capacity for volume allows for a quick fat burn, but also a quick rebound if you don’t cut calories when you cut cardio.


Just back from the knee doc.

MRI looks fine. Contusion of medial femoral condyle.

AKA a bone bruise.

Reactivate ass-kicking Mode.


Friday AM
60 minute session, 550 calories burned, AVG HR 115
-mostly body weight/gymnast/yoga stuff. Testing the knee to see where it’s at.
I tried some jump rope, but I can tell it’s not time for that yet. My theory is that this bone bruise was not caused by an external blow to the inside of my knee, but from bone-on-bone impact…that’s why anything involving impact seems to be a little sketchy right now.

Will throw down a bike session later today. Weekends are good for 2x/day training.


Monday AM: Easy ride, 45 minutes.

This was a test to establish my average power output over a 45 minute ride at a HR between 132-136 bpm.

I will test again and see if I can improve power at the same HR.


Tuesday AM: 50 minutes body weight stuff. Acro yoga, hand stands, planks, abs, glutes. Tried a few easy jump rope intervals. Knee feels good.

Tuesday PM: 30 minutes on the bike smart trainer. Heart rate recovery intervals. Hammer to 160 bpm, recover to 140, repeat. 265 watt average power output, 430 calories burned.

I can feel the dietary discipline starting to come back these days… I may be ready to start making a little push to tighten things up and set myself up for a shredded spring reveal. Ordered up some Biotest staples today: Metabolic Drive, Indigo, Carbolin-19, Mag-10, Superfood.


Wednesday AM: 45 minutes on the bike.

Cadence work: 100 RPM held steady for 40 minutes. Power was pretty constant at 200W, but my heart rate gradually increased over the session. This doesn’t tend to happen at lower RPMs. I can hold 200W at 80 RPM and keep my HR steady at about 135.

What does it all mean?

I’m not sure. But the experiment was enough to keep me engaged. Whatever works. Burned about 520 calories.


Thursday AM: 60-minute Zwift session. Group ride at an easy pace.

I hit a PR on a sprint segment:

The area on the curve between about 12-18 seconds represents a PR. I held between 800-1,000 Watts for about 18 seconds during one of the sprints. I was turning the pedals at 145 RPM during the sprint. (That’s a lot of RPMs and a lot of power.)

Weight after this ride was 183.3, which is close to about as low as I want to go. I like getting down into this range, because it opens up lots of options. I can just eat like a total slob for a few days and still only get up to about 186 or so. That’s what I have been doing for about the last 6 months or so. Never letting my weight get below 183 and then reeling it back in at around 187.

I’m gonna try to switch things up, though. I plan to get back to logging and trying to increase my protein intake and decrease my fat intake. Something in the 50/30/20 split for C/P/F percentages. With my training capacity as high as it is right now, it would only take about two weeks for me to tighten up significantly by just cutting out the junk and eating like someone who cares about fitness.

I’m also curious to see how 6 months of pretty intense, consistent cycling may have changed my body fat distribution. At a glance, it seems like I’m carrying less fat in my legs and glutes, and maybe I’m not as sharp in the abs and arms. I have plenty of data for comparison with my SKULPT device. Will hold off for a week or so, though. I’d like to be in the 8-11% range before I bother testing.


Thursday PM: 2nd session

30 minute quick workout. Jump rope, hand stands and other Acro yoga moves.

Intake: Two “low days” in a row. 1500 calories yesterday and 1700 today. Not looking to sustain this, just needed to regain control over my intake and this was a good way to do it.

One new thing on the food side for me is ground turkey thigh. We got sick of lean ground turkey breast and regular chicken breasts. Turkey thigh actually tastes like…like an actual animal. We make burgers. Same amount of fat as a regular beef burger (85% lean), but fat is okay when it’s not coming from junk. In my opinion.

I might lift tomorrow morning. Or get on the bike. Or both.


This is an example of the kind of stuff I do during my morning workouts.


you walking around at like 3% fat these days?