Fitness and Performance
Common questions asked by newly competing cyclists
When competing in any sport it is important to train both in and out of season in the correct way to prevent injury and improve technique (power, speed, endurance and flexibility). Cycling has become a very competitive sport over the years and there is an ever-growing population around the UK who are starting to compete in cycling events and/or triathlons.
The most common injuries in cycling are from overuse; these are most often seen in either the knees or the neck. This is why preparing your body both on and off the bike is so important.
For those new to competing in cycling events, there are generally lots of questions such as:
- Should I do any other exercise alongside my cycling training?
- If I start strength training will it slow me down because I am going to put on muscle weight?
- What type of exercises should I be doing alongside my cycling?
Below you’ll find the answers to these questions…
Should I do any other exercise alongside my cycling training?
On or off Season it is still really important to incorporate other styles of exercise into your cycling programme to benefit your performance and reduce risk of injury.
Off-season you are likely to reduce the amount of on-bike training due to weather conditions and not having big races to build up to. This is the most common time for cyclists to devote time to strength training. This is shown to help maintain pedal cadence. When strength training you’d look to complete 3 sessions per week with 3-5 reps and 3-5 sets of each exercise.
During cycling season those miles on the bike will be becoming more frequent, longer and harder. This is when you’ll still need to go to incorporate weight training with endurance training to help increase maximal power and better time-trial performance. It is important to listen to your body and plan carefully how much endurance and strength training you should do.
If I start strength training will it slow me down because I am going to put on muscle weight?
You can significantly increase your strength without adding on large amounts of muscle. The most effective way to do this is through Absolute strength training. This means heavier weights, lower repetitions (3-5) and longer rests (up to 3 minutes). This will help build power that will improve speed, hill climbs etc.
This type of training teaches your body to better use the muscles it has rather than building lots of new muscle which people are afraid of.
When training for endurance on the bike this recruits slow-twitch fibres in the muscles, these are great for stamina. Research has found that by including strength training it helps improve maximum strength of these fibres. This allows us to reserve our fast-twitch fibres for the latter part of your race. Heavy strength training is known to also develop fast-twitch fibres more effectively than lower weight and high rep training.
What type of exercises should I be doing alongside my cycling?
Strength programs should focus on free weight and bodyweight exercises, these types of exercises are a lot more transferable to the bike rather than the use of isolated exercise on machines.
There is a never-ending list of body weight and free weights exercises that you can do as a cyclist to help with performance. The most effective way to gain the best results would be to speak to a strength and conditioning coach. They will be able to give you exercises specific to you and give you programs that you can progress and regress.
Here are some exercise ideas below of which work on the whole body strength including both free-weights and bodyweight…
- Split squats
- Stiff leg deadlift
- Jack Knifes on ball
- Renegade row
- Leg lifts
If you are unsure how to complete any of these exercises then seek advice from a professional at the gym to correct technique and prevent injury.
If you have any pre-existing injury then it is important you see your physiotherapist to address this before trying any of the above exercises. They will also be able to give you specific exercises for you depending on what areas you need to work on most. We also offer a Bike Fit service for those serious about cycling.