The Power of Strength Training for Optimal Cycling Performance

The Power of Strength Training for Optimal Cycling Performance

Strength training is part of my year round training schedule. In the off-season I hit the weights three times a week, I tone that down to twice a week when the racing starts. While some think putting every minute into on the bike is the best way to get faster, I’ve found that just doesn’t pan out.

Experience Elevated Rides One of the immediate benefits of strength training is the enhanced riding experience. Properly activated muscles ensure better skeletal alignment, offering more comfort during rides. This can make the exertion during cycling feel more effortless. Ever felt that certain rides are more straining than they should be? Strengthened muscles can alleviate common pains in the back, neck, or knees, making rides smoother and more enjoyable. I find this especially true on gravel or MTB, the pounding will wear you down, having a strong core, shoulders, arms and lats helps soak it up.

Boosting Power and Stamina The most apparent advantage of strength training is, of course, gaining strength. This isn’t just about building muscle mass but also improving the neural connections between the brain and muscles. What’s fascinating is that these neural improvements can manifest rapidly, often without the same recovery time muscle growth demands. This not only amplifies a cyclist’s power but also improves their power-to-weight ratio.

Unlock Cycling Metrics Dive deeper into the world of cycling metrics, and you’ll find terms like lactate threshold, anaerobic capacity, and time to fatigue. For those not keen on the jargon, the bottom line is simple: strength training enhances nearly every vital cycling metric, with the exception of VO2 Max. The result? You can pedal faster and longer with less perceived effort.

Guard Against Injuries Cyclists, like any athletes, are prone to injuries. Strength training plays a pivotal role in preventing overuse injuries. For instance, consistent cycling can cause some muscles, especially those on our body’s posterior, to become less active. Balanced strength training ensures these muscles remain engaged, preventing undue stress on primary muscles. A simple addition like RDLs to a training regimen can fend off conditions like patella-tendonitis.

Building Resilience Against Accidents Cycling, being a non-weight-bearing sport, doesn’t inherently strengthen bones. However, strength training, especially when it involves multiple planes of motion, can increase bone density and tendon strength. This fortified body structure can better withstand impacts, reducing the chances of severe injuries during unforeseen cycling accidents. Ever walked away from a fall thinking it should have been worse? A robust physique, thanks to strength training, could be the unsung hero.

Conclusion: Optimal Cycling through Strength Training Harnessing the power of strength training can lead to a holistic cycling experience, where every muscle works in harmony, eliminating pain and maximizing performance. After over two decades as an avid cyclist, I can affirmatively say: the fusion of cycling and strength training doesn’t just make you a better cyclist – it makes the journey more joyous.

Further Reading:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 3). Perceived Exertion (Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale).
  • Frothingham, S. (2023, April 24). Hypertrophy Training vs. Strength Training: Pros and Cons.
  • The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Institute. (2023). Bone Density and Weight-Bearing Exercise.
  • Rønnestad, B., & Mujika, I. (2023, August 5). Optimizing strength training for running and cycling endurance performance: A review.
  • Rønnestad, B., Hansen E., & Raastad, T. (2011, March 10). Strength training improves 5-min all-out performance following 185min of cycling.