Strength Training for Cyclists – 4 Reasons Why You Should Do It!
A lot of cyclists don’t like to spend much time cooped up in the gym. That’s not where their strengths lie, or where they’re in their element.
Most prefer to be outside with wheels spinning – and whether that means beating traffic during a morning commute, or gliding down a scenic forest trail, for most of us half the fun comes from feeling the wind on your face and muddying up your rubber.
But, there are some solid reasons why cyclists should consider working out when not in the saddle. One is because strength training, when done properly, will yield very noticeable benefits in multiple areas within your cycle game.
Focusing specifically on strength training should be on the top of any cyclist’s list who’s looking to move to the next level.
Still not convinced? Check out these 4 reasons why strength training and cycling go hand-in-hand. And for more info on specific training with kettlebells click here.
Go for longer
How many times have you had to admit defeat earlier than you’d have liked? Your endorphins are raging, you’ve been killing that trail, but your body is letting you know that enough is enough.
But it doesn’t have to be!
Your body needs to be conditioned to endure more stress and strain. You need to teach your muscles how to maximise their own effectiveness, which is done through strengthening your muscle fibres so that the time it takes for them to become exhausted is less and less.
You know that incline you dread – or even avoid – because of the sheer amount of energy you’d need to apply to tackle it?
Well, strength training is the answer here. Focusing on building up the strength of your leg muscles (through lunges and squats, for example) will directly impact your ability to defeat hills and slopes.
Stronger glutes, hamstrings and quads mean more power to pedal with. Attempting to go up an incline without the appropriate amount of power can result in staggering and maybe even a muscle strain.
Strength training will also give you the ability to ride faster, utilising your newfound level of power to cover more distance even quicker. Great for those who like to compete – or for the occasion when you’re running late for work and every second counts.
You might be surprised to learn of the benefits that strength training can have on your flexibility. Raw strength isn’t the only advantage of this kind of workout.
Increased flexibility is hugely beneficial to your joints, improving their range and their ability to move smoothly. The result of this is a significantly decreased risk that you will injure yourself with a sudden bend or strain, as your muscles will be nice and limber.
Also, improved flexibility is great for your posture. Improvements here will allow you to ride comfortably for longer periods of time, and will prevent damage occurring to your back and neck muscles through prolonged periods of awkward riding positions.
Winter is coming
…and so are the long nights and iced-over roads and paths.
Cycling in the summer is a joy unlike any other – it’s a fun way of getting your vitamin D and your exercise in all at once. Some summer rides stay with you forever.
Cycling in the winter is a different beast. It can take much more willpower and preparation to pull your bike out when it’s freezing outside – not to mention, it is often much more dangerous when it gets dark so quickly and the terrain is unreliable.
Many cyclists inevitably cut down on their time in the saddle during winter. If you find yourself doing this, and you don’t have any other way of working out during this off-season, then your fitness will suffer. When you do get back to your regular biking schedule, you’ll likely find that your body is struggling.
Strength training is one of the best ways to fill in this gap. By sticking to a regular lifting or resistance routine, your body will be kept in prime condition during those months where your bike spends more time in the garage than on the road.
Ultimately, someone who cycles regularly will always be better off than someone to whom even walking is daunting and unenjoyable. Basically, cyclists are awesome and most will be in at least decent shape. Go us.
If you’re the type of person, however, who is always looking to improve in whatever task you’ve dedicated your time to, then get on board with strength training.
Whichever methods you choose to go with, never push yourself too hard or try to work out through an injury. Pay attention to your body, it will let you know what your limits are. Let your muscles recover properly between workouts – particularly if you’re just starting out.
Also, remember that your training and your cycling should work in harmony with one another. The combination should be beneficial, rather than getting in the way of you doing what you love.
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