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Strength train now: gear up for cycling season

Whether you are a triathlete, road cyclist or a mountain biker, getting stronger during the winter months will ensure a more enjoyable and successful season when the snow melts.

Indoor biking during the off season is a good place to start. However, it is not enough. Strength training is critical if you want to be a stronger cyclist.

The science behind strength training

When we look at the science, we see strength training has nothing but positive effects for cyclists. It increases cycling economy: same effort, less energy.

While cycling is primarily an aerobic sport, when you push the pace or come to the end of a long ride or race, the anaerobic system is called upon. If you’ve worked your anaerobic system through strength training, you’ll be able to ride longer, harder, and faster before fatigue sets in.

Get started

While I believe that athletes should strength train all year round, cyclists should make it a focus in the off- and pre-season periods.

For the training to be effective, you need to work at a certain intensity. Lift heavy and keep the repetitions low. Begin with light weights, and work up to a heavier load.

To get started:

  • Begin strength training eight to 10 weeks before your season opens;

  • Incorporate two to three strength sessions per week. Allow for recovery days;

  • Squats and deadlifts are key; supplement with step-ups and lunges;

  • Pushing a heavy sled is excellent; it mimics the effort on a bike;

  • Begin with four sets of 10 reps (with lighter weights) and decrease to four sets of four reps as the weeks go by (and the weight load goes up).

You can cycle and strength train on the same day. But, if you do, your cycling should be less intense if you want the full benefit of your strength training.

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