The Ideal Weight-Training Plan for Cyclists

Some more tips and tricks to get the most out of a weight-lifting routine

Strength Training for Cyclists
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You have heard all the excuses for not lifting weights: It takes too much time. Gym memberships are expensive, etc. But weight training can greatly improve your on-bike performance.

Pumping iron isn't good for just riding and racing either. Lifting weights helps retain muscle volume as you age so that you can ride fast and strong over the years. Added strength also protects against injury. Best of all is that it only takes a few hours each week. During winter, lift 2 or 3 days each week and aim for strength gains. To retain the strength you have built as you begin riding more in the spring, lift once or twice per week and don't worry about pushing the intensity. Here are some more tips and tricks to get the most out of your weight-lifting routine.

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6 Tips for Success

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Use proper form: To avoid injury, do all exercises correctly. If you don't know how, consider hiring a personal trainer to help you. Alternatively, spend some time researching on the Internet, which is a vast resource of information.

Do your homework: If time and/or money is an issue, work out at home to increase convenience and decrease expense. For many exercises, your body is the only weight you need. Add a chinup bar, light barbell set, bench, and a sturdy platform for stepups, and you can work virtually any muscle group.

Time it right: Lift after easy rides when you are warmed up but not tired. Include gentle stretching. About 20 minutes in winter and 10 to 15 minutes in summer will suffice for the whole routine.

Get a leg up on training: During spring and summer, riding usually provides enough work for your legs. If you want more, try squats on the bike, using a slightly larger than normal gear on climbs or when riding into the wind. (Be sure to warm up carefully before doing this and don't try it if you have knee problems.) In winter, simple exercises, such as lunges and stepups, can keep your quadriceps strong while you cross-train with running, Nordic skiing, or other aerobic activities.

Remember the reason: You're a cyclist, not a Mr. Universe contestant. Don't forget this. Regularity beats volume. It's better to lift a little each week for the rest of your life than overdose on iron, get injured, and quit.

Try this: A streamlined weight-training program won't result in bulging biceps and six-pack abs. But it will improve cycling performance. Check out our "Year-Round Strength Training Routine" for more info.

Don't forget about your core, too. Here are some great exercises to round out your fitness:

This article was originally published in Jason Sumner's Complete Book of Road Cycling Skills.

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