Weight Training for Cyclists

These are some of the most helpful tips for weight training I've found over 25 years of riding and lifting. Also recommended are the Weider series of bodybuilding books for sound training guidelines (as long as you ignore Weider's nutritional advice).
  • Warm up for 10 to 20 minutes with an aerobic exercise. The Concept II rowing machine and Turnturi exer-cycles are good if you're stuck indoors, jogging and cycling are preferable otherwise. You'll still want to start lifting with relatively light weights.

  • Start with a light enough weight to warmup and add weight with each subsequent set. Take weights off for the last 2 to 3 sets as necessary. This is known as pyramiding.

  • Maintain strict form. Isolate specific muscles as much as possible. This means not swinging the weights up when curling, not using too heavy a weight, and lowering the weight slowly after each rep. Advanced bodybuilders can 'cheat' to advantage, runners, cyclists and other endurance athletes generally cannot.

  • Work your weakest muscle groups at the beginning of the workout.

  • Train opposing muscle groups on separate days i.e., biceps and hamstrings Monday, triceps and quads Tuesday...

  • Train abdominals, forearms and calves daily. Other muscle groups should be worked at most every other day.

  • Partials are good for breaking up a routine. Use higher weights over a portion of the normal range of motion: the top 1/4, middle half, or bottom third of a curl for example.

  • As with riding the payoffs from weight training parallel the time spent doing it. Try to (gradually) work up to 4 hours per week plus cycling or 8 hours per week otherwise.

  • Training partner(s) will really help you stay psyched.

  • Don't avoid certain exercises because you need to use a light weight. In fact the exercises requiring light weight (deep squats, deltoid flys, etc.) are also the most likely to show rapid improvement. Remember, endurance athletes have different objectives and requirements from bodybuilders.
Roger Marquis

To: coaches-forum@cycling.org Re: Squats Date: Tue, 4 Aug 1998 17:53:32 -0700 (PDT) > 1. Do you get your cyclist to squat with toes pointing straight ahead > or turned out slightly or even turned in towards each other ? Toes slightly out, like bodybuilders. It's too easy to get injured otherwise. A small step (1x2in or 2x4cm) under the heels also helps provide a stable stance. Don't place your feet too far apart, they should be about shoulder width. Keep your head up too. > 2. How low do you allow your cyclist to squat ? Do they use a deep > squat or just go down until the thigh is parrallel with the floor ? Don't underestimate the benefits of deep squats. Also, don't underestimate their potential for injury. When going deep be sure to use light weights, light enough for 25 reps at the very least. Most of a cyclist's squat work should be done at medium depth i.e., until the leg is at a right angle to the quad. It can be helpful to squat over a small stool or in front of the mirror to keep to the right angle. This squat can usually be done with enough weights to allow 10 to 15 reps per set. Finally, half squats are great for finish work. These should be done towards the end of a workout and only down a few inches, about half of a right angle. Cyclists can have problems shouldering the heavy weights common to this movement so be sure to use thick padding around the bar and wrist straps if they're more comfortable. > 3. Do they use a lifting belt at all ? Not a bad idea if there's one handy. Don't rely on it though. A Smith Machine can also help stabilize heavier weights. > 4. Do you have them place a pad or towel under the bar whilst squatting Almost always. Use whatever it takes to be comfortable. The heavier the bar the thicker the pad. > 5. Do you have them to inhale on the way down and blow out hard on the > way up or blow out only when they have reached the top position again ? Breath-in between reps (while sinking down) and breath-out as you apply power (pushing up). This should be the pattern for all exercises. > 6. As cycling is mainly concentric in nature do you only have them > perform the concentric portion of the squat, so that 2 spotters 'take > the weight' on the way down to eliminate any eccentric contraction and > so the cyclist only performs concentric squats ? Concentric squats? Normally you don't want this. Letting the weight down cleanly helps balance as well. Reverse squats too, where you're helped _up_ with heavy weight and do the work letting them down, can top off a hard session. As with any lifting, squats should be done as cleanly as possible. Lower the bar _slowly_, don't bounce at the bottom, and lift hard. No ballistic motions and no shaking. If you're hurting enough to get wobbly legs, congratulations :-), but spin for a couple minutes on the ergometer before doing more heavy work. Roger Marquis (www.roble.net/marquis)