Cycling regularly is great for lower body strength, but leaves a lot to be required for upper body muscle groups. This can be a major problem, as mountain bikers need that upper body strength to manoeuvre the bike (Lift, jumps, move bike around obstacles and rough terrains). And road bikers who needs that extra edge in road competitions.
A reasonable approach is to focus off season on building muscle strength and then backing off to just maintain muscle strength during peak riding season.
You probably think but why do I really need to build some muscle?
Firstly, your upper body place a major role in pedal stroke especially your abdominal muscles. Strong abdominal muscle will provide the rigidity to deliver maximum power from the quads to the pedals.
On a plain level stretch, a strong rider will barely move their upper body while a rider who a tiring will rock their pelvis on the saddle. Another example in a sprint, look at the riders pulling and rocking their shoulders and handlebars. The motion levers the bike adding to the power of their legs to the pedals.
Secondly, muscle strength in your quads and legs can mean a major difference between walking and riding up a short hill.
Thirdly, a strong body will give you additional protection for the falls that are part of the sport.
Muscle strength and endurance will also help prevent fatigue, better your co-ordination and balance as well as your posture on your bike.
The aim of your resistant training is to keep it simple.
Start with 2-3 strength training sessions per week, own body weight training. Taking the time to gradually accustom your muscles and tendons to the movements. It is very important that you get the technique right, if you are not sure what to do, please get a professional to help you. This period of accustoming your muscles and tendons will take about 3-6 weeks. Then after that start adding some light weights to your exercises until you can progress to heavier weights to increase muscle strength.
Remember that training on the bike will be your key priority but adding some strength training will definitely increase performance.
Good examples of exercises to use:
- Legg Press
- Step ups
- Calf raises
- Press ups
- Pull ups
- Bent over rows
- Abdominal exercises
Warm up and cool down from your strength training using a stationary bike where possible.
Although there are many finer details to cover, the above information will help with some pointers on to start a strength training program. I would definitely recommend starting off with a sport coach or personal trainer that specializes in sport programs to help you with your strength training program and to get your form and technique right to prevent any injuries but to only progress you to a better cyclist.
Contact Chantal @ NuFit for your Sport Specific Nutrition & Fitness Plan.
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