Strength Training for Cyclists Part 1: 5 Reasons Cyclists Should Lift

strength training for cyclists

Strength Training for Cyclists: 5 Reasons Cyclists Should Lift

There has been a long debate in the cycling community about if strength training for cyclists is beneficial.  I have seen this argument take place on numerous popular forums and it always seems to go in one direction.  For most of those involved in the discussion, it comes down to a lack of scientific data to backup claims of there being benefits to strength training for cyclists.  Since when did the cycling community become a bunch of academics?

If there is a lack of scientific evidence to support strength training for cyclists there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to support strength training’s benefits.  Here are three examples of professional riders who lift:

  1. Mark Cavendish: Prior to the 2014 season, the Manx Missle had never lifted weights, he relied on his natural abilities and on bike workouts to get to where he was.  But his coaches realized that he needed to start in order to compete with Kittel.
  2. Andre Griepel: Griepel clearly likes to hit the gym and it shows as he is one of the top sprinters in the world.
  3. Phil Gaimon: When he was trying to take his career to the next level, Gaimon got a gym membership.  So weight training is for more than just sprinters.
Why wouldn’t you want to look like that?

Cyclists are mostly concerned that if they start lifting weights they will bulk up like Arnold, but that is unlikely to happen.  Most endurance athletes would not be able to become bodybuilders because of their genetics and their endurance training.  But even if they did put on some pounds it will be compensated for through the power gains.

Five Reasons Why Strength Training for Cyclists is Important

  1. Increases total amount of force applied to pedals: Its simple math that as force rises at any cadence, power increases.  And greater power outputs mean faster riding.
  2. Protection from injury: Strength training reduces the risk of muscle pulls and tears by strengthening muscle-tendon unions.  Also has been shown to increase bone density and improve muscle imbalances.
  3. Fat loss: Resistance training has been shown to boost metabolism for up to 36 hours post-workout which means that your body continues to burn calories even as you sit on the couch watching TV.  Since cyclists are always concerned about a couple extra pounds, its a great way to get down to your racing weight.
  4. Higher lactate threshold: Studies have shown an increase in lactate threshold which is likely due to the increased use of slow-twitch muscles to power the bike.  Slow-twitch muscles produce less lactic acid than fast-twitch muscles which reduces the rate at which lactate builds up in the blood.
  5. More to life than Cycling: I know that it might be tough to hear for many, but unless you are trying to pay the bills on your bike there is more to life than cycling.  Increased strength from weight training enhances the performance of everyday tasks.  Improved physique which can increase self-confidence (and the ladies like it) and many more health benefits.  Overall, weight training can help you live longer and give you more time and energy to spend with your friends, family and loved ones.

There you have it.  Five reasons why strength training for cyclists is important.  In case you are wondering what my sources are, I got most of my information from The Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel.  But rather than bickering about scientific evidence, how about you just give it a go and see if its right for you.

In part two of this series on weight training for cyclists, I will talk a bit about some exercises that would be good for cyclists and what I do in the gym.

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