Selected weights for weight training for cyclists Online
Sports experts have long emphasized the importance of weight training for cyclists. There can be little doubt that cycling is, first and foremost, a cardiovascular exercise. As a result, cyclists spend hours and hours trying to improve their fitness levels to ensure they can go the distance in their races. However, there is much to be gained by integrating weight training into your cycling workouts.
While cardiovascular fitness is important, muscular strength and explosive power will go a long way to helping you achieve those gold medals and champions’ trophies you’ve always dreamed of winning.
Aerobic versus Anaerobic Exercise
here are two broad categories of exercise – aerobic and anaerobic.
- Moderate-intensity exercise over a longer interval
- Uses oxygen to provide energy to the muscles
- E.g. long-distance running, cycling or swimming
- High-intensity exercise over a shorter interval
- Uses alternative energy sources such as glycogen stored in the muscles to provide energy for the exercise
- E.g. weight training for cyclists, sprinting, discus-throwing
If asked whether cycling belonged to the aerobic or anaerobic category, many cyclists would say that cycling is an aerobic exercise. However, cycling incorporates aspects of anaerobic exercise as well. For example, when the gun sounds to signal the start of the race, all the cyclists will pedal as fast as possible to reach the single track first. Since this is an extremely high-intensity physical activity, the body will be forced to burn glycogen as fuel for the muscles and it qualifies as an anaerobic exercise.
Improving Your Anaerobic Capabilities
Did you know...?
Did you know that there are belts and gloves designed to aid you in your weight training?
Weight lifting belts help to protect your lower back and improve lifting posture while weight lifting gloves improve your grip on the weights, taking some stress off your forearms. If the weights are getting a little heavy for you to handle, these accessories might be worth a look.
So, how can we improve our anaerobic capabilities for a faster sprint?
Well, weight lifting is by far the most efficient and effective way. Weight lifting increases the size and density of your muscles, enabling it to store more glycogen for anaerobic exercise. It also gives your muscles more explosive power.
Weight training for cyclists must, of course, target the specific muscles used during cycling. We're going to take a look at some of these muscles and discuss different ways to exercise them.
Grow Those Cycling Muscles
- The term "quadriceps" refers to the four heads of the thigh muscle which act as "extensors" of the knee joint. Any exercise involving knee flexion such as running, jumping, and yes, cycling, will make use of the quadriceps.
- Quadriceps Exercises
- Stand with your feet shoulder apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Place the barbell over your trapezius muscles (not your neck!) and balance it comfortably.
- Looking straight ahead, bend your knees in a "sitting-down motion" until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Using your thighs, push up from the heels in a single explosive motion until your legs are straight.
- Weight training for cyclists will always include the squat. It is the best way to strengthen the quadriceps and core muscles. It also helps to improve your balance.
- Leg Press:
- Sit in the leg press machine with your back pressed flat against the back of the seat.
- Place your feet against the leg and press about shoulder-width apart. Your lower legs should be at a 90-degree angle to your body. If not, adjust the seat forward or backward.
- Using your thighs, push the leg press away from your body until your legs are nearly completely straight.
- In a controlled manner, return the leg press to the starting position.
- The leg press should be done after the squat to fully exhaust the quadriceps muscles.
- The term "Hamstrings" refers to the four muscles at the rear hollow of the human knee. They are used during knee or hip flexion.
- Hamstring Exercises
The deadlift has a place outside of weight training for cyclists. It is considered by many to be the definitive weightlifting exercise and is used by athletes ranging from rugby players to powerlifters.
- Stand behind a barbell with your legs shoulder-width apart.
- With your back at a 45-degree angle, bend at the knees and pick up the barbell.
- Straighten the knees first, then your back, pushing upwards from your heels in a single explosive motion.
- Slowly and steadily return the barbell to the floor.
- Besides the hamstrings, the deadlift helps to strengthen your lower back muscles so they won't get so sore when you crouch over your handlebars for long rides!
- The calf is the posterior muscle of the lower leg. The calf's function is to raise the heels which often occurs when a cyclist pedals at very high speeds during sprints.
- Calf Raises
- Calf raises are more commonly associated with weight training for runners than weight training for cyclists, but they are extremely effective in strengthening the calves.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand.
- In a controlled manner, raise your heels off the ground, flexing your calves as you do so.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Putting Together Your Weight Training Workout
Now that you understand how to work these important muscles, it's time to put all these exercises together into one weight-training workout. One common problem faced by novices is choosing how much weight and how many repetitions to do for each exercise.
To make this decision, you must distinguish between muscles that consist mostly of fast-twitch fibers and those that consist mostly of slow-twitch fibers. Take a look here.
In general, muscles with many fast-twitch fibers respond to higher weight, lower repetition workouts, and the reverse is true for muscles with many slow-twitch fibers. Thus, weight training for cyclists usually involves a workout that looks something like this:
- 3 sets x 6-8 repetitions of SQUATS
- 3 sets x 6-8 repetitions of LEG PRESSES/li>
- 3 sets x 6-8 repetitions of DEADLIFTS
- 3 sets x 12-15 repetitions of CALF RAISES
There you have it - a sample weight training workout for cyclists!
Weight Lifting Tips for Cyclists
- Always Warm Up and Cool Down Properly:
Proper stretching before your weight training workout will not only help to prevent injury but may also help you to lift more weight as stretching directs more blood (and thus more oxygen) to your muscles. You should also stretch after your workout to help prevent the buildup of lactic acid which causes muscle soreness. Hold each stretch for about 20 seconds.
- Avoid Overtraining:
The muscles you train in the gym will also be used during your regular cycling training. This is why weight training for cyclists is usually performed no more than twice a week. It is important to avoid overtraining as this prevents the muscles from recovering fully and may prove counterproductive.
- Record Your Weekly Progress:
You should be aiming to either increase the amount of weight you lift or the number of repetitions you perform from one workout to another. This way, your muscles are continually challenged and will keep getting stronger. To keep track of your progress, keep a weight training notebook and make sure those figures are increasing every week.
- Always Use Good Form:
When you use good form, you recruit more muscle fibers in the target muscle groups which will allow you to strengthen your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves in a shorter amount of time. Using good form also helps to prevent injury. Thus, perform every exercise in a slow, controlled manner. When it comes to weight training for cyclists, using good form is more important than lifting heavy weights, so don't be in a hurry to increase the weight if your form suffers - focus on doing more repetitions first.
- Practice Good Nutritional Habits:
Good nutritional habits serve two purposes. First of all, they ensure you have enough energy to lift as much weight as possible during your workout. Always eat a carbohydrate-heavy meal about 1.5 to 2 hours before your workout to feed your muscles. Second of all, eating right will give your muscles the fuel they need to rebuild themselves at the end of the workout. Immediately after your weight training, consume a high-calorie meal consisting of 50 percent simple carbohydrates (e.g. pasta, white rice, white bread) and 50 percent protein.
Why Do It?
By incorporating some weight lifting into your training schedule, you'll significantly increase your pedaling power and sprinting speed. As your muscles become used to large amounts of stress, they'll also tire more slowly. It's in the gym. It's in those barbells and dumbbells. Start lifting today!
Books About Weight Training for Cyclists
More information about weight training for cyclists can be found in several informative books. Take a look at these selected books: