When it comes to long distance cycling, just hopping on your bike and riding countless miles won’t be enough to give you a distinct advantage. That’s where cross training with weights and other resistance exercises come into play.
While your regular cycling training and racing will help build powerful leg muscles such as the quadriceps and hamstrings, smaller muscles like the calf (gastrocnemius and soleus) and core (abdominals and erector spinae) help to provide better balance, agility and additional pedal power. Thus, these muscles need a little more attention during the offseason.
But don’t discount the power muscles, even though they do get worked throughout the season. You’ll need them to be in near-racing form once the festivities begin.
Here’s a list of seven strength exercises that will help prepare you for the rigors of long distance cycling, as well as aid cycling sprinters.
Speaking of the core, a fit, athletic body begins with a solid core foundation. Therefore, the following exercises will help establish a nice basis for being your best.
Lie supine and clasp your arms behind your head, without pulling on it. Slowly curl your torso toward your knees, bringing your shoulders four to six inches off the ground (don’t sit up). Hold for a second, while pressing your lower back into the mat. Return to the starting position. Perform slow, smooth and evenly; it’s not a race.
Do 200 crunches every other day.
After performing crunches, this exercise will work the antagonist muscles of the abdominal area, the erector spinae, located in the lower back.
Lie on your stomach (prone), with your arms by your side, with your hands on the floor for support. Slowly raise your torso until you feel those muscles in the small along the spine of your back working. Hold for a few seconds, tightening your lower back, and then slowly return to the starting position.
Perform 10-15 reps, 3-4 sets.
Leg curls (on an angled bench)
Lie on your stomach, with the machine adjusted to your height and selected weight on the machine. Make sure the lever is a few inches below your calves. Then, slowly curl your legs up to your buttocks without losing contact with the padded lever. Proceed to gradually return the weight down to the starting position.
Perform 10-12 reps, 3-4 sets.
In addition to the back extensions mentioned above, the deadlift is a great exercise for overall lower back strength, not to mention hamstrings and shoulders as well.
Slightly bend at your hips and knees and grab a bar using an overhand grip (bars vary in weight, so make sure you pick an appropriate weight). Keep your arms locked and stand up to lift the weight. Arch your back without rounding it. Please don’t bounce.
Providing you’re using a light weight, perform 15-reps, 3-4 sets. As you get stronger, increase the weight, and lower reps.
Leg Press – place your feet shoulder width apart, midway on the platform of the machine. Grab onto to the side handles, and gradually push out while exhaling. Slowly lower the weight to starting position while inhaling. This will help build quadriceps strength.
Perform 12-15 reps, 3-4 sets.
To target the gluteal region, place your feet higher, and follow the same sequence as above.
Perform 12-15 reps, 3-4 sets.
This exercise is a plyometric staple, helping to build explosive quadricep power needed to overtake challenging hills and other hellish inclines, as well as assist cyclists who partake in sprint racing.
Use something like an aerobic step or another high, flat surface. Start out with one or two, depending upon how high each measures. Go down as low as possible into a deep knee bend, and jump as high as you can onto that area.
As your leaping ability, and explosive strength, develops, challenge yourself with higher planes.
Perform as many as possible, even to complete exhaustion, if you can. It’s a great way to end a leg workout.
Stronger calf muscles will allow you to pedal just a little faster, propelling your leg muscles to move your bike up that arduous hill just a little easier.
On a leg press machine, place your feet (toes) at the lower edge of the platform. Proceed to gradually flex and extend at the ankle joint, felling the contractions in the shin and calf areas.
Preform 20-25 reps, 4-5 sets.
* Special Note — the information above is for reference only. Please consult with a licensed medical professional or credentialed health and fitness professional for more information.
Written by Jerry Del Priore for bodono.
Jerry Del Priore has worked as a certified personal trainer, and received his degree in Physical Education from Brooklyn College. Jerry is also a veteran print and digital Sports Writer-Reporter-Author experienced in writing in-depth profile stories on a variety of high school, college and professional athletes and teams. He covers several Brooklyn areas including Canarsie, Bensonhurst, Old Mill Basin, Mill Basin, Bergen Beach, Gravesend, East NY, East Flatbush, Fort Greene, Georgetown, Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach, among other areas in NYC and Long Island. Additionally, Jerry has developed a presentation based on his book, Running Through Roadblocks, that encourages children to overcome obstacles and never give up…no matter what! Specialties: Baseball, football, hockey and basketball writing. Jerry also has covered lacrosse, soccer, golf and track and field, with ample experience cover women’s sports. Food Writer/Blogger experienced in venue write-ups and reviews. In addition, Jerry has ample experience working with medically fragile children, children with behavioral challenges and children with cognitively impairments. Read Jerry Del Prior’s book: Running Through Roadblocks and view his presentation.