Strength Training for Cycling

Habits: The good, the bad, the broken

Habit: a behavior pattern followed until it has become nearly inescapable

Over the last 15+ years working with endurance athletes and clients from around the world, I’ve seen far too many folks omit the loud warning signs their bodies are sending them:

Achey knees

Chronic hip and back pain

Chronic neck and shoulder pain

Loss of range of motion (upper back, shoulders, ankles)

Foot pain

The thing is, the vast majority of the individuals I saw, while they paid a little attention to these warning signs and sought my, or other professionals help, they far too often wanted (and still currently want) a quick, simple fix to a problem that occurred due to ignoring smaller signs, or their non-adherence to previous “quick simple fixes” when they were appropriate.

“Just give me 1 or 2 exercises I can do to fix this”

“I think I just need to stretch X muscles to get more mobility”

“I’ll just transition over to trail running for half my mileage instead of road, and then I don’t need to do the strength exercises any more”

While some fitness professionals and cycling/triathlon coaches may give the athlete what they want, they fall far short of what the athlete needs, which leads the athlete down the road to ruin.

“If there is something I’ve learned in my Ironman journey: Recovery and injury prevention are same priority as the workout themselves”

- Aviv D.

Habits: The good, the bad, the broken

Over the last 9 months it seems the universe has been pushing me to write this post, as nearly every 2-3 weeks I’ve seen instagram and Facebook posts from individuals I assessed or consulted with, who have had major injuries, or surgeries to try to address issues, which had they made some basic changes from what they enjoy doing, to what they needed to do, could have (and very much so SHOULD have) been avoided.

Why does this matter?

Because these athletes, for whom each of the issues they had major operations for were brought to light and identified 5+ years ago when we met, or when they met with another professional (Physical Therapist, Massage Therapist, etc).

The athletes were clearly told, in no uncertain terms, where they were headed and what habits they needed to change in order to be able to continue to perform their sport for the next 10, 20, and 30 years….but instead elected to continue down the road to ruin, ignoring the council of others with their best interest at heart.

From complete reconstructive foot surgery, to lower back fusions, shoulder surgeries, neck surgeries, and a number of knee surgeries, each one of these athletes had a chance to decrease or completely avoid the need for extensive surgeries…..instead choosing to be like the grasshopper, neglecting to do the small habits today, which would help them avoid catastrophes tomorrow.

Strength Training isn’t the end all be all….but it sure as hell helps!

Strength training is just one piece of the puzzle to help keep endurance athletes healthy and able to execute what they love to do, but it isn’t the answer to everything. In fact, a few of the individuals whom I have in mind didn’t need strength training, they needed better sleep, nutrition, and lifestyles. They were pushing their bodies so hard, it was just a matter of time before they broke, but the pervasive mentality of “HTFU” (Harden the f*** up) from other triathletes was so ingrained in them, logic fell on deaf ears.

But strength training for cyclists and strength training for triathletes can help you take large steps forward to stay out on the road, doing what you love, for a number of reasons:

  1. Better posture means joints and muscles are in positions where they can do their jobs

  2. Improved balance of muscle strength means you can move easier and freer

  3. Moving heavy objects (relative to your abilities) improves neuromuscular function and helps you keep more muscle mass- very important as we age.

  4. Decreased wear and tear on your joints, as the muscles work to protect the joints

The thing is, many cyclists and triathletes see strength training as time AWAY from their sport, when in fact, when done PROPERLY, strength training can and will significantly boost your triathlon and cycling results. And it isn’t a huge mindbend to get there….

On my Strong Savvy Cyclist & Triathlete podcast interview with Jason Fitzgerald from he talks about how he reduces mileage each run throughout the week, and replaces that time with a strength routine immediately after his run, to improve overall function and abilities.

Just like saving or investing financially, the returns will come from steady, regular habits performed over a long period of time…not some big excited jump into strength training every November that leaves you sore, stiff, and tired for the next 2-3 months, only to fall off at the first sign of spring weather.

The choice is yours….

Here is a 5 minute post-ride routine that you can use 3-5 days a week to help you move, look, and feel better:

If you want to learn more about Strength Training for Cycling, or Strength Training for Triathlon, you can either take one of my TrainingPeaks University courses on the subject here:

Strength Training for Cyclists:

Strength Training for Triathletes:

Or you can sign up for the HVT Newsletter and get great info in your inbox, and first dibs on my upcoming first of it’s kind "Strength Training for Cycling Certificaiton” course, which will be released in fall/winter 2019.

Preventing Neck Pain for Cyclists & Triathletes

Preventing Neck Pain for Cyclists & Triathletes

Spending many hours on the bike leads to a number of adaptations in the body, especially when it comes to muscles and how they act on the joints of the body.  Because "Joint position dictates muscle function" this means that many of the muscles in the body will be put into positions on the bike, for long periods of time, that do not allow the muscles to work as intended or designed.

BICYCLING Magazine article breakdown: Best Low-Impact Exercises You Can Do for Cross-Training

The missing piece, when it comes to strength training, for most athletes, is the understanding that strength training (and cross training for that matter) should be focused on strengthening the body in movements that are NOT done in their sport, and which will lead to better stability and strength through the sports movements. ESPECIALLY when we are talking about strength training for cyclists and triathletes.

Stretching Solves Back Pain? Part deux: It's the Psoas' Fault?

Stretching Solves Back Pain? Part deux: It's the Psoas' Fault?

But the psoas is like a fine wine… it’s much more complex than a fancy label and not coming in a box, or something called a “Bladder”. Ya just can’t make it feel good with a few glasses of boxed wine/ Lunge, Reach, Twist Stretch…

Stretching solves back pain? Part 1

You may be thinking these changes are a bad thing, but in fact, this very mechanism of the human organism- adapting to the working demands we place on out body- has led us to be able to survive for however many thousands of years, as we’ve adapted to the stressors and demands placed on us. 

Strength Training for Cyclists and Triathletes: Building a program

Strength Training for Cyclists and Triathletes: Building a program

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
-And the adaptations that the body makes in order to "get strong & efficient" in that sport.