Strength training for cyclists brings many benefits, especially for those avid bikers who aim to perform at the highest levels. Pros regularly turn to strength training, but are there benefits for amateur cyclists? Professionals can put in long hours at the gym and, through strength training, can see clear performance boosts. But amateur cyclists simply can’t spend hours a day working out. And besides – they would far prefer to be on their bike than be in a gym!
It is known that strength training increases resilience, power production, and pedaling efficiency. By increasing muscle strength and helping those muscles perform at optimum levels, the training prepares the body to handle not just intense sprints but also longer races. Weight training for cyclists should be a focus in the off season to keep the body in shape and help prevent loss of muscle mass and endurance. And don’t think you need to be a gym rat to see performance dividends. Even a few hours a week with a weight training for cyclists program will result in benefits when you are racing.
When compared with traditional training on the bike, strength training is more of a long game. With traditional bike training, you will note improvements quickly and steadily as you move along. But at some point, you will hit a wall and you will reach a level of intensity that you will struggle to surpass simply by riding more often or at a higher intensity. Strength training, however, will give you that extra boost and slowly crank up your conditioning over time so that your plateaus will be of a shorter duration.
What Can Strength Training Cyclists At Home Do to Boost Their Performance?
There are a number of strength training exercises that you can do either at home or in the gym without the use of excessive weights or training devices. Most require nothing more than some hand weights or a kettlebell and, over time, can really make an impact on your cycling performance.
Lunges are one of the most effective exercises for cyclists. Begin without weights and then add weights as your strength improves. Remember to keep your knee in line with your leading foot and keep your core perpendicular to the floor. Be sure not to lean excessively forward or back as you lunge. It should be more of an up and down motion.
This strength training exercise truly targets the parts of the body cyclists rely on for optimal performance: the quads, hips, and hamstrings. Keep your core strong and your back straight as you thrust from your lower body. Propel the weight forward with your arms, being careful to hold on tightly to the kettlebell! Start with a lighter weight kettlebell as proper technique is critical. Too heavy a weight can cause your form to fail, especially as fatigue sets in.
Squats should be a part of every cyclist’s training regime. They target the muscles in the hamstrings, hips, and quads, and increase both strength and endurance. Use light weights until you feel comfortable with your form and then increase the weight gradually as you build higher reps. Make sure your core is tight, and your back is straight.
As with any program, weight training for cyclists should be introduced gradually. The goal, in cycling, is not to build a Hollywood body, but rather to improve racing performance and cycling endurance. Don’t feel like you have to be training many hours a week like the pros to see gains. A moderate but regular amount of strength training, especially in the offseason, can make quite a boost on your performance on the bike.
At Kass & Moses, we understand what is important to cyclists because we ride, too. We know when you are off your bike the only thing you can focus on is when you will ride again. That is one of the reasons that bicycle crashes can be so devastating. If you have been injured in a bicycle crash and have questions about how to get the insurance company to pay for your pain and suffering, contact our team today. We will stand by your side and help get you the compensation you deserve.