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.

strength training is adequate.  This will provide enough stimuli from your strength and power workouts in the gym without zapping you of the energy you need for your on-the-bike workouts.  As you enter into your Specialization period of aerobic training, the intensity of your on-the-bike workouts increases and you need plenty of recovery.   During this time, one day a week of essential exercises in the gym is sufficient to maintain your newly acquired strength throughout the race season.


Duration of Workouts

Strength training sessions should last no longer than 45 minutes.  With longer gym workouts, fatigue and boredom begin to become a factor, and the quality of the workout will suffer. This still allows plenty of time for the necessary exercises to be performed and for adequate recovery between sets.   Ideally, 5-6 exercises are enough to stimulate strength development, as long as the specific exercises are chosen well.


Choice and Order of Exercises

For cyclists, the goal of the strength program should be to increase near maximal strength and power without hampering aerobic fitness. Therefore, your strength training program should be designed around training movements rather than muscles.   This can be done by incorporating exercises that utilize multiple joints and muscles to perform the movements.   In addition, exercises that require a fair amount of coordination and load multiple parts of the body will provide more ?bang for the buck? in the weight room.   Try to choose free weight exercises over machine-assisted exercises.   Free weights allow the body to move in its natural plane of motion and will often require more core stabilization, which can transfer positively to the bike.  


There are a few exercises that are ideal for the cyclist; these include free-weight squats, Romanian deadlifts, lunges, rows, and dips.   In addition, a variety of core exercises to improve trunk stability and power production both on and off the bike should be undertaken with medicine balls, wobble boards, and stability balls.   Done correctly, these exercises will do far more to improve your overall fitness than the traditional leg extensions, leg curls, and bench presses.


Because these exercises involve multiple joints and a good deal of core stability, proper form is vital to maximize the effectiveness of the exercise as well as to prevent injury.   Seek out the help of a trained professional at your gym to teach you how to do these exercises correctly.   In addition, do the exercises that are most difficult for you early on in your workout, when your body is fresh and sharp.   Save any abdominal and core-specific work until the end of your workout, as you don?t want to prematurely fatigue the core muscles you need earlier on for exercises such as squats and deadlifts.


Putting It All Together

A properly designed strength training program can be beneficial for the cyclist by improving neuromuscular coordination, core stability, and joint integrity in order to help prevent injury.   In addition, because cycling only works in one plane of


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