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Integrating Strength Training

As athletes, we all know that there is more to your performance than simply the muscles needed to push the pedals.  Core strength is of course extremely important in cycling, as are the supporting muscles in your legs that help prevent injury.  Time in the gym can certainly make you a healthier and more complete athlete, however, it also has the opportunity to derail your training to a certain degree.  In order to maximize both your strength and cycling training, try to abide by these guidelines:

  • Try to pair your weight training within 12 hours of your intervals & preceding a rest/easy day. Ideally, you'll do your cycling first, but if you can't, just know that your riding will suffer since you're training on pre-exhausted legs.

  • Try to adhere to an on/off schedule by following hard days with easy ones.

  • Try not to block your training. It's typically far better to train then recover, train then recover, than to train & train then recover. Blocks can be productive, but they're risky and best left for particular times of the year, and often enough, more advanced riders.

If you are not quite sure what workouts you should be doing to best improve your cycling, read on to learn about Chad's Top 5 workouts and how to work them into your training.

Specifics and Progressions:

Pistol Squats:

Starting out: You want to begin at a squat depth where you can complete somewhere between 10-20 reps, alternating legs after each individual rep.  When you can do 20 alternating reps properly, increase the squat depth and go back to shooting for 10 alternating reps;

Progressions:  You have a few options once you are able to complete 20 full-depth alternating repetitions.  A few options are:

  • Grow to 30 alternating reps
  • Add weight and continue alternating legs with each rep
  • Stop alternating legs and do 10-15 reps straight on each leg before switching

Side Planks:

Starting out:  Work up to holding a side plank for 90 seconds per side (do another exercise between sides rather than doing them back-to-back).

Progressions:  Once you can successfully hold a plank in proper form for 90 seconds, try these progressions:

  1. Add movements such as leg abductions/raises, leg circles, etc. until you can hold a plank with motion for 90 seconds
  2. Once you can do that, progress to hand-planks rather than elbow-planks

Pushups:

Starting out:  Start with 2-3 sets of max # of PROPER pushups.  Your goal is to work up to three sets of 20 pushups.

Progressions:  Once you can successfully complete three sets of 20 pushups, try these progressions:

  • Add alternating hip/knee flexion (spidermans/rock-climbers) until you can perform 3-5 sets of 20 pushups consecutively.
  • Another option is to add a weight plate to your back.  Once you can do sets of 20 with the added weight, either increase the weight or add the spidermans/ rock-climbers mentioned above, but with weight as well.

Deadlifts:

Starting out:  Find a weight you can properly lift for 15-20 reps.  Be sure to nail your form EVERY rep, keeping in mind that without proper form you are at risk of injury and will not be working the intended muscles. 

Progression: Follow the below plan to advance your deadlifting capabilities:

  • Begin the first 4 weeks with 1-2 sets per workout, recover for 2-3 minutes when you work up to multiple sets.  Focus on your form and make sure that you are doing them perfectly before piling on too much weight.
  • For the next four weeks, grow the reps and shrink the weight: rep range shrinks to 10-12 per set, weight increases such that 10-12 are difficult but doable, recover for 2-3 minutes between sets, and increase the sets to 3-5 per workout
  • For the next four weeks, move onto heavy lifts in the 3-5 rep range, 2-3 sets per workout, 5 minutes of recovery between sets.
  • Then move into maintenance with just 1 set, 3-5 heavy reps per workout, 1-2x/week, for the remainder of season.

Renegade Rows:

Starting out:  Alternate moderate-tempo pulls for 20-24 reps (10-12/arm) with whatever weight you can move continuously. 

Progression: Once you can continuously complete 20-24 reps, try these progressions:

  • One option is to continue adding weight
  • Another option is to add a pushup between each repetition
  • The most advanced option is to complete a "man-maker"
    • This consists of:  left row, pushup, right row, pushup, hop legs forward under your body, stand and shoulder dumbells, press both dumbbells overhead, return dumbbells to shoulders, return them to floor, kick feet back into pushup position, repeat for up to 20 total
    • If this ever becomes too easy for you, use more weight or add a speed element to progress even further

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