Can Strength Training Help My Cycling?

There are many benefits to off-the-bike strength work.

Should I do strength training at the gym to support my cycling? – Skip Legday

Due to the repetitive non-stop push/pull muscular action required when cycling, there are many benefits to off-the-bike strength work. Building strength enables you to produce more force throughout the pedal stroke and increase your bike speed, muscular stamina, and efficiency.

Break each strength session into three components: A cardio warmup, single-leg isolation work, and core-stabilizer work. Start with two sets of eight to 10 repetitions.

Warm-up with 10-20 minutes of stair climbing.

Step up march (weighted)
Strengthens the quadriceps and glutes
Step up onto a step, box, or bench. Stand up quickly, driving through the heel as the foot makes contact with the bench. Bring the other foot up to meet it, before stepping back down with the leading foot. Focus on one side at a time.

Rear-foot elevated split squat using bodyweight, kettlebell, or dumbbells
Targets the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings
Stand with your rear foot on a bench behind you. Lower yourself until the front leg is about 90 degrees before coming back up, keeping front knee behind the toes and upper-body vertical.

Knee raises with band
Engages the hip flexors and encourages “over-the-top” pedal recruitment
Balance on one leg while stepping on a band. Stretch the band with the other foot by lifting the knee up. Pause at the top before lowering. Focus on keeping the knee tracking straight.

Other exercises to consider:
Incline press, single-leg deadlift, calf raises, low cable row
Keep things simple with exercises you are comfortable executing and will do consistently. Control over weight is more important than how much weight you lift. Start conservatively, especially if you’re new to strength training.

Benjamin Drezek is the head coach of the KMF Endure race team and the University of North Texas Triathlon Club in Denton, Texas. He was named USAT National Coach of The Year in 2014.