From cycling nutrition to an all-rounder gym routine, tackling your cycling training holistically is the number one way to achieve your goals. Whether you’re a beginner looking to up your game or a professional cyclist looking to shave off those last few seconds on the clock, training your body outside of cycling is essential.
Weightlifting, running, flexibility training; these are all ways to improve your performance in the saddle. The ideal routine will vary depending on your cycling focus, so in this blog post, we’ll take you through some core exercises that provide different kinds of cyclists that extra edge.
Exercises for Sprinters
When you sprint, you’re asking your body to generate a lot of explosive power. Essentially, you’re throwing oil on the fire. If you’re looking to improve your sprinting in the saddle, then it’s time to hop off and give yourself a session in the gym.
Build a weights routine with explosive, powerful movements. When training for sprinting out of the saddle, your best bet is to utilise exercises that train your fast-twitch muscles. Fast-twitch musculature consumes a lot of energy very quickly, allowing you to exert a huge amount of power in a short time.
Lifting weights not only pushes your metabolism harder in the long term, it can also train your fast-twitch muscles if you know how to build the right routine. Choose fast, powerful, explosive movements like power squats, clean-and-jerks, jump squats, and box jumps. These train your muscles to respond as quickly as possible, building strength so you can put a whole lot of power down when it’s time to put the pedal to the metal.
Outside of weightlifting, you can also use high-intensity interval training (both in and out of the saddle) as well as plyometric training days to boost your work capacity. This will help you to sprint even harder for even longer.
Exercisers for Climbers
Glutes, quads, calves. These are a few of our favourite things, and they’re also the key muscle groups you need to look after if you’re going to up your climbing game.
On a climb, the biggest muscles in your body (namely, the ones in your back, butt, and legs) are working extremely hard, so a huge load is placed on your body. This drives your heart to work as hard as possible, and a long hill climb will push into anaerobic work—where you don’t have enough oxygen and start to create lactic acid—quickly.
So, gearing up for climbing entails strength training for those three core muscle groups—glutes, quads, and calves—with weights. Rather than focusing on fast-twitch muscles as we do for sprinting, aim instead for longer workouts with heavier weights. Try:
- Power cleans
- Hamstring curls
- Weighted calf raises
- Weighted lunges
Most importantly, don’t forget to train your core. Your core includes your abdominal muscles, your obliques, and your back muscles. They’re all responsible for driving the twisting and dancing movements of your body on a climb, especially if you take a hill standing.
Core exercises that work well for this include anything that makes your body feel like it wants to shake apart, such as planking, boat pose, reverse crunches, and even pull-ups. Pilates is also fantastic for building your core muscles while simultaneously hitting cardio.
Exercises for Endurance Riders
Finally, we come to the long-haul riders. If your idea of a good day is grinding away on your bike trainer for hours on end, then you’re most likely looking to up your work capacity (allowing you to go faster for longer). In that case, you need to focus on your slow-twitch muscle groups. As opposed to your fast-twitch muscles, slow-twitch musculature handles heavy loads and non-explosive movements.
The key to training these is in the length of your workout. Hit a higher number of weight reps with shorter rest periods and focus on taking your movements slow. Not only will this improve your weightlifting form, but it will also ensure you’re not diverting into fast-twitch territory.
There are no specific exercises that are particularly helpful, the key is just to work hard for a long time. Some examples include going on a hike with ankle weights, a mega-long leg day, hitting the treadmill for some slow and low cardio time, or breaking out your yoga mat for a good stretching session.
There you have it! Implement these tips in your exercise routine and you’ll be hitting your performance goals in no time.
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