For some cyclists, strength training is a welcomed part of the training process; however, for others, it is a necessary evil. Yet, to avoid injury as well as get stronger on the bike, strength training is becoming a critical aspect of year round training.
With that being said, how should you train year round? Is it a good idea to hit the weights while racing? Are there certain strength training exercises to accompany different aspects of the racing year?
Answering these questions, the post, Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists states , “one of the main goals with sport-specific strength training is to target your prime movers as well as the assistance muscles that support your prime movers. With proper strength training, each time you press on the pedal, your primary group of muscles (those that take on the majority of the load) will be stronger and have a stronger group of assisting muscles to help produce power. Since you are only as strong as your weakest link, the stronger system you build as a whole, the more potential you have for cycling specific gains.
Another major goal with strength training for cyclists is to train more muscle aerobically. This includes the muscles in your legs and the muscles in your arms and core. The more aerobically trained muscle you have, the more potential you have to clear lactic acid, and the less overall body fatigue you will experience. A weaker core and upper body that fatigues fast will result in poor form and cause you to slow no matter how strong and aerobically trained your legs are.”
From this, we can see the importance of building a stronger core through year round strength training. But what exercises are best for more core strength?
The best way to train all parts of the body is through working with a full range of motion while strength training. A bench press, for example, will only work your arms and shoulders through a fixed range of motion. A great way to gain core strength and work full range of motion with many repetitions and longer durations is through practices that primarily use body weight such as yoga and pilates, for example. Ashtanga and power yoga are styles of yoga that are faster flowing, continuous, and challenging. Yoga is hands down one of the best way to work for aerobic strength gains throughout the entire body. Not only do you focus on many repetitions such as with pushups, squats, and lunges, you work each joint in a full range of motion while doing so, which focuses on core endurance, stability, and flexibility.
In a nutshell, a core group of muscles that fatigues less will allow you to work with increased power ranges for a longer period of time while riding a road bike or mountain bike. With more range of motion, increased flexibility, and a stronger core, you will not only feel better before, during and after each workout, you will be slightly more productive as well. The time you spend working on it now will greatly pay off throughout the entire year.