Tag Archives — strength

Strength Training for Cycling

I was back on the Canadian Cycling Magazine Podcast talking about Strength Training for Cycling. We talked about some of the variations and approaches you could take as a cyclist and as an adult with other things going on (family, work etc.)

Step-up to the challenge of strength training!

You can listen with the player above or subscribe to their podcast (my segment is around 24 minutes)

Want more? Below I talk more about starting strength and gear on the Consummate Athlete!

If you are looking for more information about strength training you can see a few related posts below as well.

Check out the episodes of The Consummate Athlete that included Strength Training in the discussion

Cyclocross Strength

Any Where Core Routine

Maximum Sustained Power – A book that went over really well with listeners of the Consummate Athlete. Listen to the authors and get the link on the Consummate Athlete Podcast Page

Get a Smart Athlete Training Plan on that includes strength in the weekly structure with bike workouts for <$49 HERE

Do Strength to Improve Your Cycling

You *should* do Strength in the Off-Season to Improve Your Cycling

Studies and practical experience from top athletes in the elite and masters ranks show us that that strength training can increase our on bike performance AND make us more resilient to injury. You need only look at athletes like Nino Shurter  and 2018 MTB World Champion Kate Courtney for elite examples of strength training and general athletism!

Strength training improves cycling performance
Studies such as the one explained in the above infographic from YLM Sport-infographic demonstrate that strength can boost your cycling/endurance performance.

Remember you are a person, not (likely) a Tour Pro (or NFL Pro…)

For Masters and those note going to the Tour de France there is a consideration about avoiding injury, longevity (being able to ride and function as a human in your later years). Muscle mass and bone health and being able to lift up heavy-ish things (Like kids) without straining a muscle is important to your health/happiness and if you are not hurt YOU CAN RIDE MORE AND BE A FAST CYCLIST.

But what should you do for strength to improve your cycling? 

Your first priority is to get used to strength. Getting in the gym and moving through a range of motion in the fundamental movements. Squat, Hinge, Push, Pull. Many of us are best served working on limiters in range of motion and to get used to moving well. This may take several months of work but you will see improvements each session, and if you stick with it for a few months you will notice you feel stronger, more stable on the bike and likely less stiff and tired throughout the day. The trick is what exactly should you do? How many reps? How many sets? How many exercises?

Strength training improves cycling performance

If you check out my ‘Anywhere Core Routine’ you can get started today! This free video gives you the basic motions and you can start at only a few reps and one set today and progress until you are feeling comfortable with that plan => see the free 20-minute anywhere core routine below

Or try this routine for more ideas:

If you want 12 weeks of Strength Training you can do at home or at the gym, with examples in downloadable PDF documents AND that you can put in your training peaks calendar, you can keep on your phone or print out. (available in PDF only if email / use contact form)

Strength Training, Crosstraining, Pushing Sleds and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Do ‘Non-Cycling Interventions’ (NCI), such as strength or power training, belong in an optimal weekly plan for a cyclist ? a mountain biker ? an endurance athlete?

Reason for Post/Back Story: 
Two Colleagues of mine just posted about Pulling/pushing Sleds as a tool for athletic development and this got me thinking, or at least gave me more reason to think, about what we (cyclists/mountain bikers) include in our weekly plan and what we hope to gain from these practices. Adam, who trains cyclists (such as Emily Batty) did a post discussing two ways to look at ‘sprinting’ and he shared a tool he has used called the ‘Sledbarrow’. Steve, who trains many explosive/team sport athletes in addition to select cyclists, added some methodology for pushing/dragging sleds and also provided 2 examples of sprint/power training on the bike. Where I hope to contribute is in a cycling specific consideration of why we may or may not want to use “NCI” to achieve cycling goals.
*See Steve Neal/Crossfit Orangeville Post HERE in response to Adam Morka/Wired for Performance SledBarrow Post 

Pre-Post Bias: 
I am very fond of the idea that general health, movement skills especially, will create a great base for athletic performance. This is, admittedly, not always true as evidenced by top athletes in a given sport being very limited in abilities outside of their performance domain. (*ask a pro cyclist to squat or touch their toes or jump up and grab a pullup bar). Given this ‘movement bias’ I do choose the idea of variety and non-specific modes of exercise in my own training and the training of my clients with the belief that the resultant health and performance will be positive.

If one’s goals were strictly, or largely, performance based we must evaluate whether “NCI” have a role.

Peer Reviewed / Research Evidence: 
a) A 2010 review of studies done on trained cyclists (>7hrs/wk) found that if Resistance training was added on top of Endurance training there was no gain in time trial performance. However, if the strength training replaced some of the endurance training there was improvement.

b)  This study found that Non-resisted sprint training was as effective as Resisted Sprint training (i.e. sled push). The resisted sprint training did have positive benefits on horizontal acceleration and did not negatively affect running/upper body mechanics.
c)Elite Cyclists/Athletes training time consistently found to be 80-90% Volume (low intensity 90%vo2)

Anecdotal/Practical/inferred Evidence:
a) Joe Friel – Strength training drops out of plan in mid ‘base’ periods (early in offseason) but he is in favor of using it initially then transferring to the bike.
b) Hunter Allen – 3-4 weeks, periodized (variety of rep/sets) but moving to bike specific.
c) Andy Coggan – “Strength is Irrelevant”
d) Nino/Swiss Power Videos   featuring balance, strength and core training
e) Todd Wells discussing plans to build power mid-season in prep for 2012 olympics
*and prior to 2011 discussing huge miles and North America vs. World Cup race demands.

My Experience: 
a) Folks with minimal experience and/or time to train will benefit more from doing something rather than nothing. I have seen this with Steve as he has continued to race at a respectible level while doing crossfit, max strength, stretching with 1-2 bike sessions a week (this is estimated by me) but he also has tremendous experience and natural skill in MTB racing and so this idea of strength/crossfit being a solution for all becomes somewhat limited if someone can not technically handle a MTB.

Questions I am debating given the Above:
a) Does it make sense to suggest someone with less time to train (‘time crunched’) would be better served by random or variable training stimulus vs. a specific (‘game play’) based regime.
b) would an Elite Athlete be benefited by punctuated and isolated exposure to strength training and/or sprint based training (sport specific or not)
c) If the individual is more important than the classification of the athlete (i.e. beginner vs. elite) then how do we isolate who would benefit from any “NCI” to better progress athletes through plateaus and limiters.

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