Are you looking to improve your cycling performance by introducing some strength training? Maybe you already go to the gym but find the free weights area a little intimidating? You certainly wouldn’t be alone. Or perhaps you just want to refresh your workout programme. In this blog we take a look at some alternative training methods for people of all abilities that might just refresh your training programme.
Firstly it’s important to realise that there is not one set of exercises that fits the bill for every cyclist. There are many different types of cycling and many disciplines. For example Mark Cavendish’s training will be different to that of Geraint Thomas’ despite the fact they both race road bikes. However as a road cyclist you are may want to place more attention around your upper body and core rather than just building stronger legs. This is because a lower riding position on a road bike places extra strain on your core and shoulders and some conditioning exercises for your shoulders could make a big difference, to holding a low & aerodynamic position, all of which will improve performance.
Secondly it’s important to remember what kind of discipline you are training for. This will affect the way in which you train. Rep length is very important to think about as it will ultimately control the outcome of your training. If you’re looking to build up your muscular endurance, you are better off going with a few sets of 15-18 reps on a weight that you find comfortable rather than heavy weights. You might also want to consider supersets or circuits for your legs endurance. However if you’re looking to increase muscular strength for short distance or sprint riding it would be more beneficial to keep your reps low, work with heavier weights and isolate muscles in order to build strength.
4 Different exercises you might not have tried before for stronger legs and lower core
If you don’t feel confident walking into the free weights area or squats aren’t for you give wall squats a go. This exercise involves a medicine ball, light dumbbells and a wall. This is a great exercise for isolating your upper legs. (Mainly quads and glutes) the medicine ball will help support your back and knees eliminating common injuries that can be caused by bad form when squatting with a bar. The lower you squat the more you’ll engage your glutes, but you should stop once your thighs are parallel to the ground to avoid strain on the knees.
Bulgarian lunges are another great exercise that doesn’t need heavy weights although this isn’t one for the faint hearted. All it requires is a step or a bench and 2 kettle bells. The manner in which the Bulgarian lunge is performed keeps one leg at a time under constant tension as the leg is never fully straight so your body doesn’t absorb the weight of the load placing the quad under constant tension throughout the exercise. The fact that you have to constantly balance on leg also gives your core a work out as its permanently engaged to keep you from falling over. Start light and slowly build up. A great alternative to those that don’t want to squat.
The TRX machine offers you a whole range of training exercises that cover the whole body and if you’ve not used one before we’d fully recommend giving it a go. Simply googling TRX exercises will bring you up a whole host of content of great exercise ideas. A favourite is the TRX Pike. The Pike, when done correctly is a great all body exercise which engages the core, arms, back, shoulders and hip flexors all at different times during the exercise. To make it harder add a 3 second pause at the top.
Leg curls provide the perfect way to isolate your hamstrings. Hamstrings are often forgotten about as everyone thinks power comes from the quads and glutes which to an extent is true. However the importance of the hamstrings shouldn’t be forgotten. Hamstrings are the muscles responsible for knee flexion and allow you to kick your legs backwards which plays a key role when pedalling. Hamstring burnout will certainly cost you when cycling you might just not realise it.