If you’re an endurance athlete, you NEED to read this
If you talk to most endurance athletes who do not compete at the elite level about strength training, the most common excuse for not doing it is that they are short on time. While training for endurance events like cycling or running, does take up a large amount of time, strength training becomes even more important as you spend more time on the bike or in your running shoes.
Rather than detracting from training time, strength work makes every minute you are doing endurance training more effective by improving form and preventing injury.
Check out this awesome guide to strength training for endurance athletes!
When talking to cyclists I often get the same response when discussing the importance of strength training. It typically goes something like, “I don’t want to take away from my riding time.” The fear is that any time that’s available would be better spent training specifically for their sport, and not on strength and conditioning. This sentiment is not unfounded for time-crunched athletes looking to squeeze every possible gain from the time that they have available.
Why Strength and Agility Training?
Most non-elite athletes have a hard time understanding how time spent training off of the bike is a productive part of reaching their overall goals. While it seems counter intuitive to many, it’s important to recognize that when training the focus should be on well-rounded athletic development and not a singular strength. This means identifying weaknesses and working to improve those areas in any way possible. Working on strength and agility allows you to shift your focus towards areas that don’t get proper attention when the focus is 100 percent on the bike. Areas like the core, lower back, and upper body can always benefit from off the bike exercise. These are areas of weakness for many cyclists and if strengthened, it can result in increased power and improvements to a rider’s form.
What Type of Strength Training is Best?
There are any number of workouts to choose from when it comes to strength training. Today’s gyms are overrun with options from CrossFit to group classes and everything in between. While everyone is different when it comes to the best way to train, there are a few things that I like to recommend for my athletes so that they get the most out of their time off of the bike.
First, functional exercises are a great compliment to the isolated movements experienced on the bike. Exercises that include lateral movements, sprints, and explosive exercises are the perfect way to work several of the body’s systems at once. These types of workouts help to strengthen joints and connective tissue making for a strong and injury resistant body.
- Side Lunges: 15 per side
- Bridge: 10 reps
- Single Leg Squats: 10 each leg (20 total)
- Burpees: 10 reps
- Mountain Climbers: 25 each side (50 total)
- Step Ups: 10 each leg (20 total)
- Jump Squats: 12 reps
Focus on Your Weaknesses
Don’t be afraid to identify your weaknesses and design a plan to strengthen them. Now is the time of year to focus on the things that, if improved upon, could make you a better rider. If top end power is an issue focus on functional, fast paced exercises like jump squats and jumping lunges. For mountain bikers and cyclocross racers upper body exercises can be vital for improving bike-handling skills.
………………..your upper body. As cyclists we often times become too lower body dominant, and forget that our upper body helps us maintain proper form. Not to mention the power that a strong core can help deliver.
………………..gains can provide advantages when the race season begins that are not only physical but mental as well. Focused attention on strength and agility work keeps motivation high and burnout low. The goal of every cyclist should be to develop as a well-rounded athlete ready to tackle any race-day scenario. Strength training provides an athlete the tools necessary to be strong, injury resistant, and mentally prepared.