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Happy National Bike Week! Ways to Implement Strength Training Into Your Cycling Program

May 8, 2018

Proper strength training is often overlooked by many endurance athletes, this includes cyclists. It is understandable that some people are cardio enthusiasts while other types of exercisers prefer to lift weights. However, any athlete knows that any workout regimen, no matter what your end goal is, is all about balance. Cycling is an intense sport and requires a lot more training than you may think, but it is just a leg workout.

It May Not Be Easy, But It Will Be Worth It

Increasing your strength and simultaneously keeping your cardiovascular endurance high is not the easiest thing to do, but when it is done properly many athletes will notice a dramatic increase in their cycling performance.

If you go to the gym to work on your cycling, be sure you are using variation in your workouts. Rather than always hopping on a stationary bike or taking a cycling class, remember that strength training can always help you! The best way to increase your body’s stamina for cycling is to use compound movements with barbells, like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, presses and rows.

These movements will move relatively large loads over long distances, therefore causing a large disruption from homeostasis that one is required to adapt to and get stronger for the next dose. To maximize the strength adaptation I recommend sticking to 3 sets of 5 reps with about 3 to 5 minutes of rest between sets. With each rep, consider adding 5 to 10 pounds to the bar every time you repeat the same movement.

Here is a basic workout example for a week if you are a cyclist:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Saturday
Strength Bike Short Distance Strength Bike Long Distance Strength

This workout method will allow the trainee plenty of rest days (two) to recover from each workout. It also evenly spaces out and alternates strength training and cycling workouts to optimize endurance.

Adapt Workouts Based Upon Distance

Depending on the distance you compete at, choose a distance that is 40-50% of the overall distance of the race you are training for and go as hard as you can for as long as you can. This increases the intensity of the ride. If you prefer, you can also use HIIT (high-intensity interval training) methods, 20 seconds of a hard sprint followed by 2 minutes of a pace ride and repeat this 8 to 12 times.

Incorporating strength training and cycling can be done in any type of gym or home. If possible, do the cycling portion of your workout on a upright stationary bike and simulate the environment that you would be in if you were outside or in a race. To further challenge yourself, you can also adjust the resistance on the bike pedals to mimic different terrain. Doing this will also help build lower body strength and improve your overall cycling because you will be prepared for any cycling scenario!

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