Some of you have seen the Facebook page updates, or the live video on Instagram, in which over the last 7 weeks of 2017, I gave a 5 part webinar series for USA Cycling Coaches on Strength Training for Cyclists, and how to properly plan and progress Strength training programming throughout the competitive season, as well as considerations that MUST be taken into, well…..consideration. Through the time preparing the presentation, it was a bit alarming to see how old much of the information about Strength Training for cyclists is, and how far behind current best-practices it is. So in this weeks post, you'll gain the bedrock on which PROPER strength training for cyclists is built.
Designing a proper Strength Program
Proper Strength Training for any sport begins and ends by looking at the demands the given sport places on the body:
-The movements and ranges of motion at the different joints necessary to achieve success
-Very importantly, the imbalances that said sport causes in the joints
-The adaptations that the body makes in order to "get strong & efficient" in that sport
….just to name a few.
This last part is oft forgotten at best, and neglected at worst, when it comes to strength training for cyclists today. Many an athlete think "Oh, Strength Training for cycling .... I have to do Squats, Lunges, and Leg press, and of course some planking".
As a side note, did you know that you can plank incorrectly, hanging off of your tight hip flexors instead of your Transverse Abdominus, and thus miss the desired effect of planking?
Check out how to do a plank for MAX gains in your riding here:
While the thought process for most when it comes to strength training for cycling is to mimic the sport movements, this is NOT how one attains maximal gains from strength training!
In order to get the absolute most out of your weight training for any sport we MUST use strength training to address movements and muscles NOT used primarily in the sport, as this gives balance to the body/joints, which allows us to have far better posture, and thus better muscle function.
While posture and muscle function are closely tied together, the correlation has variances, based on each individual. For example, did you know that 1 out of every 3 hips will have between a 5-20% variance in the femoral neck angle (if you and I stand side by side, this means one of OUR hips will fit this criteria). This can significantly effect our setup and performance on the bike....wild, ain't it?
So how do we set a proper foundation for strength training so we can maximize effects?
The first step is to design a dynamic warmup which will allow us to adequately increase body temperature while raising the neurological systems arousal....and, when done structured and executed properly, also allow us to hit the target areas for that particular athlete, in order to allow them to see better posture and balance at each joint.
Many of you may be thinking of warming up as an easy jog followed by some static stretches, but this actually tells the body to shut down, as opposed to "fire up the engine". While some static stretching (less than 60 seconds in duration per stretch) may not cause decreases in performance, and may actually allow the athlete to perform BETTER, if we truly want to maximize our warmup, it should consist of a structured routine, geared to first open up tight areas, and then to put them through appropriate ranges of motion- with little to no load- allowing the joints to be "put through their paces", and allowing the athlete to "put the mind in the muscle" and create a stronger mind-body connection.
While this all seems like a lot to think about and plan, it's actually not that difficult, if you have the right thought process.
1. Start by thinking about releasing tight spots in the body:
Lacrosse ball and Foam Rolling the body, for 15-30 seconds a spot, can and should be included in either the warm-up or the cool down, depending on your preferences.
2. Look for very basic warmup moves that allow for progression through movement patterns that may not be addressed in your sport, or are not oft used:
an example of this is Thoracic Rotation for Cyclists and Triathletes, as although the movement may be needed (looking over the shoulder on the bike, reaching back to grab food from the back pocket, or swimming for triathlon), this movement pattern is rarely trained or maintained. (Subscribe to the HVTraining YouTube Channel to get a first-look at one of the many dynamic warmup exercises we use for this purpose).
3. Think about what movements you struggle with, and put in low-level progressions for sets of 5-8 repetitions in your strength warmup:
This is a fantastic way to cut down your in-gym time, and allow you to get the biggest effect from your time training. Don't get greedy though! Light Weights with perfect technique is what we're looking for here!
4. Order your Dynamic Warmup from global to specific exercises:
Start big, and work your way small. This will allow for the best possible firing up of the nervous system, while allowing the core body temperature and athletes arousal to be raised as well.
We’ll discuss more about proper programming for Strength Training for Cyclists & Triathletes in our upcoming posts, but make sure you subscribe!
You can also get a head start by purchasing my “Strength Training for Cycling Success” online course via Training Peaks University. To date, it is the most in-depth and well rounded course on strength training for cyclists in the world, from the World-leading Strength Coach for Cyclists and Triathletes, yours truly.
Did this post help you?
What was one thing that goes against what you’ve been doing?