Thursday, June 26, 2014

Strength Training for Cyclists

Whether you are an avid or competitive cyclist, strength training will give you more power and speed as well as decrease your chance of an injury. Athletes in endurance sports such as running, rowing, or skiing cross-country can also benefit from strength training. Cyclists primarily reserve strength training for the off-season which generally runs from October through April, although experts recommend 20-30 minutes of strength training, 2-3 times a week, year round.

Strength training has many benefits, some of which are listed below:
  • Increases muscles mass which helps to generate more power. 
  • Delays the onset of fatigue in your muscles, particularly during endurance events. 
  • Stimulates your metabolism so you’ll burn more calories, which helps to maintain a healthy body weight. 
  • Increases bone density. Cycling is a non-weight bearing sport and a low bone density increases the risk of overuse injuries and osteoporosis. 
  • Increases your speed. You’ll have a better final kick with more fast, fatigue-resistant muscle fibers.
  • Generates more power. Strong muscles will help you to control the bike and allow you to concentrate power through your legs to your pedals. Just as muscles are made stronger through strength training, the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage around joints also become tougher and more resilient. 
  • Decreases your risk of injury, and enables you to get rid of persistent problems or chronic pain. 
To get the best out of your workout, always warm up before you begin lifting to get the blood circulating in your muscles. Be sure to wear good athletic shoes and appropriate clothing so that nothing catches or snags when you’re bending over, pushing or pulling. The most critical aspect of strength training is to maintain proper form throughout your workout; if you feel yourself breaking form halfway through a set, stop. You can seriously injure yourself if you do not perform the exercises correctly.

Remember to consult with your doctor before performing any exercise program for the first time. Make sure you feel comfortable with any strength training exercises before trying them on your own. Overall, regular strength training will help to build a solid core, improve your economy, increase your speed and prevent injury – keeping you strong and in peak physical condition throughout the year!

References from the SIRC Collection:

1. Hansen E, Rønnestad B, Vegge G, Raastad T. Cyclists' Improvement of Pedaling Efficacy and Performance After Heavy Strength Training. International Journal Of Sports Physiology & Performance. December 2012;7(4):313-321. 
2. Keller J, Halvorson R. Is Core Strength Important for Cycling?. IDEA Fitness Journal. April 2008;5(4):16. 
3. Louis J, Hausswirth C, Easthope C, Brisswalter J. Strength training improves cycling efficiency in master endurance athletes. European Journal Of Applied Physiology. January 15, 2012;112(2):631-640. 
4. McEwan M. Strong to the Core. Bicycling Australia. September 2009;(159):104-106. 
5. Rønnestad B, Hansen E, Raastad T. Strength training improves 5-min all-out performance following 185 min of cycling. Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine & Science In Sports. April 2011;21(2):250-259.
6. STRENGTH TRAINING TO IMPROVE YOUR RIDING. Mountain Bike Action. August 2011;26(8):114-119. Why do cyclists ignore core strength?. Cycling Weekly. January 30, 2014;:33.

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