Guide To Strength Training For Pro-Cyclists

There's no doubt that pro-cyclists should practice strength training by combining cycling and weight training. Strength training for cyclists comes with its own host of benefits such as increased muscle and better performance, increased core strength for more stability and greater endurance, overall improvements of posture while cycling and the correction of muscle imbalances. (i)  

What Is Strength Training?  

Do you often find yourself asking how to increase leg power for cycling? Strength training, also known as weight or resistance training, entails performing physical activities designed to increase muscular strength and fitness. Strength training involves exercising a specific muscle or muscle group against external resistance, including free-weights, weight machines, or your own body weight. Cycling is primarily an aerobic sport and necessitates the production of repeated force. Cycling also requires you to have a strong core in order to have better control of your bike, climb, and maintain overall endurance. When it comes to strength training for cyclists, the main goal is to train in a motion comparable to riding with the lower and upper body, while also strengthening you core and improving muscular endurance (i). The fundamental purpose of strength training on the bike is to build a stronger support system for your prime movers. The more aerobically strong your assistance muscles and core are, the less tired you'll feel late in a race, and the more power you'll be able to generate during your ride. 

Functional Strength Training For Cyclists 

We understand how daunting the gym's weight room might be. You may go in with the best of intentions, but when you're standing in front of the mirror with a set of weights, you're completely stumped. That's why we've put up a list of essential exercises to be a better cyclist. These exercises develop the muscles that support your body on and off the bike by focusing on your primary movers and are a good form of cycling workouts without a bike. 

Core Based Strength Training 

Plank Shoulder Taps: Planks with shoulder taps are fantastic because all you need is your own body weight. Your core, glutes, arms, and shoulders will all benefit from the plank with shoulder taps. This exercise aids in the reduction of lower back pain, the improvement of posture, and the tightening of the stomach. 

Single Leg Glute Bridges: The single leg bridge is an excellent core exercise that helps to support your spine.  

Russian Twist : Russian twists are primarily a strength-training exercise that focuses on increasing muscle strength and endurance. Extra muscle is not only good for your health in a variety of ways, but it is also considered attractive. 

Plank Knee Crosses: Not just the abdominals, but also the obliques and hip flexors are worked in this exercise. The abdominals provide movement and support to your core and back, and the obliques are responsible for side bending and waist twisting, which helps to provide stability to the hips and low back.  

Leg Based Strength Training 

Dumbbell Deadlift: The dumbbell deadlift is an excellent workout for developing hamstring and glute strength. This exercise will not only improve your lower-body strength, but it will also help build stronger legs for cycling. 

Bulgarian Split Squat : This exercise strengthens thequads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Additionally, because this is a single-leg exercise, your core is forced to work overtime to keep you balanced thus maming it one of the best exercises for cycling power. 

Walking Lunges: Walking lunges can help you enhance your range of motion by loosening up your hips and hamstrings and increasing your flexibility. This can help you improve your posture and balance, which will help with your cycling endurance training.  

Leg press: A good cycling leg workout is the leg press. The leg press targets the key lower body muscles such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, and calves, promoting lower body growth. During the workout, the leg press isolates the lower body from the upper body making it one of the best leg exercises for cycling as it promotes leg strength giving you that extra push while cycling.  

Calf Raise : The calf muscles of professional cyclists are generally the focus of attention. This is due to the fact that during cycling, you use your calf muscles more frequently.t. Calf raises strengthen the calf and improves lower-body performance. 

Shoulder Based Strength Training 

Dumbbell Shoulder Press: Dumbbell shoulder presses are an excellent approach to boost muscular activation and hypertrophy.  The exercise works to recruit new muscle fibers and improve movement coordination, comparable to the benefits of other unilateral exercises. 

Dumbbell Front Raise: Dumbbell front raises are an excellent way to increase upper-body strength, enhance shoulder mobility and stability and thus, avoid injury. It's fine to begin with lighter weights while you work on perfecting your form. As you build strength, you can gradually increase the weight. 

Dumbbell Lateral Raise: Your rear deltoid is isolated with the rear lateral rise. This muscle aids in the strengthening, toning, and stabilization of your shoulders and upper body. Pressing, pulling, and overhead actions are all aided by strong deltoids. This makes it easy to finish your cycling workout while also lowering your chance of injury. 

Cycling Interval Training For Endurance 

When you first begin cycling, simply pedaling on a regular basis can help you become fitter and faster, However, f you work at too high an effort for too long, you will be unable to recuperate adequately before your next ride. It's advisable to ride mostly in your Endurance zone until you can perform the number of training hours that you intend to form your typical training.  The Endurance Zone or Training Zone 2 is a great way to reinforce movement patterns and add training stress without adding too much fatigue to a training plan. Most long rides are built around this, and you'll spend a lot of time here while sitting in the pack during any mass-start event.(iii) 

Stretching Exercises For Cyclists 

Cycling is a terrific low-impact workout, but it's also very repetitious, which might result in limited range of motion. To prevent tightness and soreness, cyclists should stick to a consistent stretching program that focuses on the muscle groups that contract concentrically during cycling, limiting joint mobility. To increase your flexibility and prevent frequent cycling injuries, try these stretches. 

Downward Facing Dog: As cycling generates power from the core and lower back, these muscles can get weary and tight. While stretching the calf and hamstring muscles, this stretch reduces tension across the spine and opens the hips. 

Doorway Stretch: The hamstrings are always contracted during the pedaling motion because you never reach complete leg extension. Lower back soreness and hamstring flexibility are common side effects. Work on hamstring flexibility, especially within 10–15 minutes of your ride, to alleviate these typical symptoms. 

 Lunge & Reach: Aggressive riding patterns and the upstroke during the pedaling motion might cause the iliopsoas to become tight. This stretch will help to release tension in your hips' front side. 

Upper Trap Stretch: Due to the general continual contraction required to hold up the head in the bent-over position common in road cycling, the upper trapezius might become exhausted. This stretch will release the muscles that go from the base of the skull to the upper shoulders. 

How To Recover From Cycle Training 

A cyclist's timetable must include time for post bike ride recovery. When you train, you stress your body and tear down muscles, and it's during recuperation that these muscles rebuild, adapt, and develop stronger so that the next workout seems easier. You won't progress if you don't give yourself time to rest and mend after a ride, and you'll also put yourself at danger of illness, injury, and overtraining. Muscle recovery after cycling is absolutely necessary. 

Take Time To Cool Down: Although a cool-down takes longer, finishing each bike ride with at least 10 minutes of easy cycling allows the body to recover to its pre-exercise state. Spinning the legs improves circulation throughout the body and aids the recovery process by removing metabolic waste products from the muscles. 

Hydration: Dehydration is likely after a hard or lengthy training session particularly in warmer conditions. This makes it more difficult for your heart to circulate blood and oxygen throughout your body, reducing your recovery. If you've had a short, easy ride, drinking water should suffice, but if you've had a long day in the saddle, you'll want to replenish some of the electrolytes you've lost. 

Try Active Recovery: Active recovery, may be useful in specific circumstances, like as the days following a major race. Compression wraps, such as Spryng, are an excellent calf muscle recovery therapy to try at home. Spryng can be used to aid in the rehabilitation of painful calf muscles by improving blood circulation. It can dramatically improve the recovery from leg discomfort and sore muscles that you may suffer after cycling or leg training if you use it for only 15 minutes after your workout. 

 

 

Get Some Quality Sleep: Human growth hormone is produced during deep sleep and increases muscle development and repair. Sleep deprivation can make you irritable, inattentive, raise the production of the stress hormone cortisol, and increase your rate of perceived exertion, making exercise feel much more difficult. In other words, if you want to recover and exercise at your best, you'll need a good night's sleep. 

References: 

  1. https://www.issaonline.com/blog/index.cfm/2020/cycling-strength-training-how-important-is-it-to-do-both  
  2. The Best Strength Exercises for Cyclists | TrainingPeaks 
  3. https://www.bicycling.com/training/a20036554/10-essential-strength-exercises-for-cyclists/ 
  4. Cycling Power Zones: Training Zones Explained - TrainerRoad Blog 
  5. https://veloforte.com/blogs/fuel-better/10-cycling-recovery-tips 

 

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