Proper Planning Makes Weight Training Effective for Cyclists

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12/9/2005| 0 comments
by Tim Pelot

Proper Planning Makes Weight Training Effective for Cyclists

Many cyclists toss around the idea of working out with weights to improve performance.

Many cyclists toss around the idea of working out with weights to improve performance, particularly during their Transition and Foundation training months.   Indeed, an appropriately designed strength training program can help for some cyclists build overall strength as well as address muscle imbalances that might arise from being on the bike all the time.   However, a good strength training program involves more than just going to the local gym, picking up some weights, and performing a few repetitions.   In order to maximize overall performance gains, it is important that the design of your strength training program complements your on-the-bike training.  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>


A properly designed program will help ensure you are being efficient and effective with your time, so you still allow ample time to train on the bike.  Remember that you are an endurance athlete and cycling is primarily an aerobic activity, so the bulk of your training should be directed at improving your aerobic system.   Nonetheless, an appropriately designed strength-training program can improve some individuals? overall fitness and improve their performance on the bike.


To secure your strength program?s success, there are a few key factors that need to be addressed:


?          Periodization of strength-training

?          Number of sets and repetitions

o         Amount of resistance

o         Speed of movement

?          Number of strength training days per week

?          Duration of strength training workouts

?          Choice and order of exercises


Periodization of Strength Training

All effective cycling training programs are periodized in order to focus on different energy systems at different times of the year.   Similarly, an effective strength training program needs to be designed in a way which allows the athlete to address different aspects of strength.   Generally, the strength training program should be split into five different periods.   Adaptation is the period that allows the body to get used to the new demands strength training places on the body.   Following that, the Foundation period places a little more stress on the muscles to prepare the body for the heavier weights and greater forces to come in the next two periods.   The body is then ready for the Strength period, which involves significant amounts of weight in order to maximize muscle fiber recruitment and improve overall strength.   The Power period is then instituted in order to improve the body?s ability to utilize those strength gains at faster speeds.   Finally, the Maintenance period helps the athlete maintain strength gains achieved earlier in the year while allowing for appropriate recovery so the athlete can perform optimally in his or her chosen sport.


Following is an example of how the strength training periodization program works with the cyclist?s aerobic training periodization program:



Transition or


Foundation or Base

Preparation or Pre-Competition

Specialization or Competition











Number of Sets and Repetitions

Contrary to popular opinion among endurance athletes, the strength program should incorporate relatively high weight with a relatively low


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