Strength training for cyclists?
I saw this great little list of ‘tips’ for endurance cyclists considering incorporating some strength or resistance training into their exercise week;
This got me thinking about my own experiences – firstly as an endurance road cyclist myself who does some regular weight training and also as a personal trainer who works with a number of road cyclists to assist them with their weight training program.
While I’d agree with many of the tips presented in the article I’ve mentioned, I probably approach the topic looking at the demographic who typically enjoy road cycling (as distinct from the pure racing cyclists looking for even the smallest performance advantage).
These ‘serious’ recreational cyclists (like myself) are typically middle – high demographic, white collar professionals. We spend our work time sitting in front of a computer or other devices punching out emails, analysing spreadsheets and the like. Much of our leisure (exercise) time is spent on our road bike with small groups of like minded people at early hours of the morning, after work and weekends riding through the local hills and beaches.
While cycling is great for developing our aerobic fitness and endurance, the common issues it can create in combination with how we spend the rest of our work week include postural issues (think neck, spine, shoulders) from ‘hunching’ over our bike + work computer, poor upperbody strength/function and reduced bone density from a lack of weight bearing exercise.
Most young ‘pro’ cyclists wouldn’t be worrying about these issues providing their wattage was where it needed to be……….however for the rest of us who have to work for a living, have busy lives and are over 30 years old, I suspect our ‘overall’ health is also a priority to us.
For me and the cyclists I work with, incorporating some resistance/strength training into our week is a really effective way to combat the issues I’ve outlined really effectively. Results can be achieved with 30-60m per week providing that exercises are performed correctly with good technique, a balanced program and a real focus on quality of movement/posture, rather than trying to just ‘smash out’ as much weight as you can.
Besides improvements to their posture, strength (upper + lower) and reduced back pain, other benefits experienced are feeling stronger on the bike, delivering power more efficiently and feeling like you can maintain better posture for both long rides on the bike but also for life in general – meaning less pain/fatigue and greater levels of energy.
Lance was right when he said that it’s ‘not (just) about the bike…..!!’