Most people don’t realize that it takes more than just riding to be a good cyclist. While putting in time on the bike is crucial, there are a few other things you can do to improve your skills.
Your time in the saddle is what you should focus on, but you can do even more than that. You can work on your strength and shape to improve your riding skills even when you’re not actually on a bike.
Elite athletes agree that indoor workouts are equally as important as those they do outside. That’s true for everyone, cyclists included.
Continue reading as we discuss why it’s important to work out even when you’re not on your bike. You’ll learn how this can help you and why you shouldn’t be afraid to do it. Below, you’ll also find some basic straight training exercises and workouts for cyclists.
Why Should Cyclists Workout?
Cyclists are considered endurance athletes which is why they rarely ever venture into the strength branch. In most cases, they follow the same style and stick only to endurance training.
This is mostly because they fear of gaining muscle that would add weight. Is this the case with you? Even if not, you’ve probably heard other cyclists speak of strength training along these lines.
However, it’s been proven that adding some muscle and increasing strength is beneficial to your cycling performance. Low reps, high weights, and longer breaks can help a great deal.
By increasing your strength, you actually improve your endurance. It helps with resilience to injury as well as power production which are equally as important.
How working out helps your endurance
You probably will add some muscle but not as much to alarm you. What you want to do is teach your body to work with what you have rather than add new muscle.
When you do endurance training, you recruit the slow-twitch muscle fibers. With strength exercises, you improve the strength of those fibers. This means you’ll need more time to exhaust them allowing you to reserve those fast-twitch fibers for a race later on.
This training helps develop fast-twitch fibers. However, when you combine the two types of workouts, you get more fast glycogen and phosphocreatine that give you energy, and less discomfort.
Another thing strength training can help with is your ability to develop velocity much quicker. It will decrease the energy it takes you to perform the usual endurance work.
How to avoid fatigue
It’s a matter most cyclists are concerned about when they consider strength training and rightly so. More muscle and weight can significantly impact your performance, but it’s all in the approach you take.
However, some researchers showed that strength training had no negative effects on endurance in terms of maximum oxygen consumption. They were able to show that there’s an improvement in cycling, especially in less-trained riders.
Do some research of your own or ask a strength coach for advice, and you’ll quickly learn that strong muscles are the efficient ones so you can’t go wrong with little weights and core exercises.
Remember that we’re all different, and while something might work for you, it might not work for someone else. For this reason, listen to your body as you’re trying new workouts. Here are some of the most effective workouts you can do at home or in the gym:
The simple lunge is one of the best workouts you can do at home. It’s easy and works all the muscles in your lower body. Lunges target your quads, hamstrings, and hips the most. Do three sets of ten reps and make sure to rest about 45 seconds between each set.
How to perform them:
Stand and step forward with your right leg. Bend the left leg until your knee is almost touching the ground. You can let the knee touch the ground if you find the exercise too difficult at first.
Push back into a starting position with your left foot. Repeat all of this with the other leg. Make sure you keep your spine aligned and your shoulders back. Your chin has to be up at all times and try to look straight ahead. These few steps will help you stay balanced and avoid injury.
To start, hold your dumbbells to your sides. Keep your chest lifted, eyes forward and back flat. Now hinge at the hips and lower the dumbbells toward the ground. As you do this, rotate your palms to face you while your knees are slightly bending.
Keep the dumbbells close to your shins and lower all the way until your body is parallel to the floor. Push the hips forward by contracting your glutes and go back to the starting position.
Repeat this as many times as you feel the need. This helps your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
This is a full-body exercise that helps develop your pedal stroke. Do three sets of fifteen and take at least 90 seconds to rest after each set.
Use any weight that works for you. Stand with your feet apart and make sure your knees are slightly bent. Hold the weight between your legs using both hands. Swing the weight in a fluid motion up to the height of your chest.
Make sure to control the weight as it falls back into starting position. Hinge your hips and let it go back between your legs. The best is to go for a full hip extension, thrust through your thighs and tighten the glutes and core.
Dumbbell side step up
Here’s another exercise if you prefer using your dumbbells. Hold them at your sides and stand left to a step or box. Put your left foot on the box and press to straighten the leg and lift your body. As you do this, swing the other leg out to the side before returning to the starting position. Do as many sets as you’re comfortable and switch sides.
Do one leg at a time in order to develop well-balanced strength. The exercise develops your glutes allowing you to be more stable while riding.
This is a classic workout that many cyclists fear. Still, it activates your legs, core and back muscles. It also develops your muscle strength and increases power. Just by including this in your training, you can become a faster and more efficient rider.
Do four sets of eight reps. Take a break of 45 seconds after each set.
Stand with feet at shoulder width and bend the knees. Squat and grab the barbell. You’ll know you’re in the right position if your forearms are brushing the outsides of your thighs. Your shins should be touching the bar.
Push your shoulders back and look straight ahead. Lift the bar to the level of your thighs. If you’ve never done this, it’s best you go slow and light. Make sure to perfect the technique before you maybe add some more weights.
It’s crucial that you don’t this too quickly but allow your body to feel the tension as you lift in a steady motion.
The squat is another classic workout people tend to fear or simply forget. It’s simple, straightforward and highly beneficial. This helps build bones and protect the knees. It’s ideal for people with mild osteoarthritis as it makes bones stronger.
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width and turn them out a little. Bring your hands together to the front of your chest, push your hips back and bend the knees. Squat until your butt drops lower than your knee level. Press through heels and stand up straightening your legs. Repeat as many times as you feel comfortable.
This is a whole-body workout you can do at home or wherever you’re training. It involves all of your muscles and trains them along with joints. It also raises the heart rate and helps burn calories.
At first, you should do three sets of ten reps and take a minute in between. Have your feet at shoulder-width apart as you squat with hands on the floor in front of you.
Kickback your legs as you would into a push-up position. Hop your feet back towards your hands and return to the squat position.
Jump and throw your arms up. Leap as high as you can before landing and repeat immediately. You can add some pushups into this once standard burpee becomes too simple for you.
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