Cycling is one of the world’s most popular exercises and is highly suitable for individuals of all ages. It’s a pretty intensive activity that creates a full-body workout every single time, but it can do wonders for your physical and mental health.
For decades, cyclists have begun to understand the important role that strength training plays when keeping us healthy and strong while out riding a bike.
Incorporating strength training into your exercise routine can be an excellent way to build up your muscles. Yet if you don’t know where to start, how often strength training should be carried out, or what to do, you’ve come to the right place.
Here’s what you need to know about strength training for cyclists.
Cycling Strength Training Considerations
Before you start any type of heavy strength training, you must undergo some light gym work. Here, the focus should be on performing techniques with a much lighter load. Not only will this help you familiarize yourself with certain techniques but it may also prevent injuries.
After completing this basic training phase, you can switch your attention to the following elements:
A healthy, balanced diet is the key to success when it comes to strength training for cyclists. You are using muscles all over your body whenever you sit on the saddle, meaning it is vital that you give your body the proper nutrition for high performance.
After years of riding, a lot of cyclists have wrapped their heads around the what, how, and when of correct cycling nutrition. But there’s often a lot of confusion about what add-ons to take to supplement their diet. That’s where whey protein comes in.
Ideally, a cyclist should aim to incorporate the top rated whey protein into their lifestyle to boost performance and help them to feel a bit healthier. Whey protein is very safe. A recommended dose is anywhere from 1 to 2 scoops per day.
It’s a good idea to reduce the endurance training volume (or ‘load’) when you are starting with strength training. One of the biggest side effects is a rapid increase in Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS) which often shows itself as ‘sore’ or ‘heavy’ legs.
Key Benefits Of Strength Training For Cyclists
Does strength training really help cyclists? The simple answer: absolutely! With regular strength training you will be able to do the following as you cycle:
- Prevent chronic injury or muscle overuse.
- Build necessary muscle strength to increase energy levels during a bike ride. If you are a competitive bike racer, focusing on strength training will push you past the finish line!
- Provide mobility and stability. The rounded position your body contorts into when you grab the handlebars will elongate your back unless you practice regular strength training.
A big factor to consider in many different cycling races is the overall ability to create a high power output in a short amount of time. In a race, high power output is useful if you are looking to perform a sprint to cross the finish line or simply close a gap.
In layman’s terms, if you want to maintain strength and energy as you cycle, make sure to incorporate strength training.
How Often Should Cyclists Do Strength Training?
Cycling is an intense activity that requires the use of your whole body. If you aren’t training for a specific bike race, you should aim to complete three to four 45-minute long strength training workouts per week.
The goal of these workouts is to focus on the volume and overall intensity of your strength training workout. This is because you are not putting in a lot of effort or miles which reduces the stress and fatigue of your body.
If you are preparing for a cycling race, however, you must schedule your strength training around your endurance efforts.
These are general guidelines and are not set in stone. Though it’s a good idea to pencil in as many strength sessions as you can, you might also have other things going on in your life that demand more of your focus and attention.
Our advice is to do what you can in the time that you have available. Never push your body past its limits.
Common Strength Training Exercises
In an age concerned with marginal gains, many people strive for that extra 1%. Although nothing will ever compare to quality time in the saddle, more cyclists than ever before are now also beginning to turn to the gym for ways to improve their cycling performance.
The primary focus in terms of strength training exercises for cyclists is to train in a similar way to cycling with both the upper and lower body, while also increasing overall muscle endurance and core strength.
You want to create a strong support system as you move on a bike. Some of the most common exercises to incorporate into your strength training routine as a cyclist include:
- Half squats
- Kettlebell swings
- Leg presses (progressed to a single leg at a time)
- One-legged hip flexions
- Toe raises
Remember: Recovery Is Important
If you don’t allow some time for sufficient rest and recovery between strength training sessions, you’re making a huge mistake. Not giving yourself a break means you’re pushing your body past its usual limits before you can adapt to the intensity of your previous session.
Not leaving time for rest may lead to a downward spiral in terms of your overall cycling performance, and might even lead to a period of overtraining. Here, you may require prolonged resting periods to recover.
The solution? Make time for adequate rest days between your sessions where you take it easy on your entire body.
That concludes everything you need to know about strength training for cyclists. As long as you make sure you are incorporating a couple of sessions of strength training per week, you will be able to reap the benefits of your hard work in barely any time at all.
Photo by Victor Freitas