Improve your performance by being stronger
Cyclists, and endurance athletes in general, have never been too fond of strength training. They think that being between four walls and lifting iron weights is something for bodybuilders, so they rarely step into the gym.
Luckily, this is changing and more and more athletes include strength routines in their training. It is the norm in professional sports and among those who compete at a high level.
Are you one of those who have added strength to your training routine? You should.
Strength training does not necessarily have to be done in a gym; you can do it at home or outdoors, and practically with no equipment required or only with basic elements.
It is not exclusively for bodybuilders or sports in which great strength is apparently required.
Forget about it being something monotonous or boring, there are endless options to ensure that it isn't. For example, circuit strength training is a challenge, keeping you motivated throughout the session, and enabling you to vary your training routines.
First, the concept of strength is clarified. Without going into academic definitions, strength is the ability to move a load in the shortest possible time, or keep it static for as long as possible.
Starting from this definition, if you want to be faster on your bike, you must be stronger.
One very important point is not just focusing on the muscles involved in cycling. Cyclists shouldn't think that doing squats and other leg exercises is sufficient.
You have to work the entire body. Keep in mind the muscles involved in cycling, but also taking the weakest parts of your body into account, which you don't usually exercise in cycling practice or daily, as well as core work.
Will I gain weight?
Bear in mind that strength work does not necessarily increase muscle mass significantly. To achieve muscular hypertrophy, follow some workout guidelines and a specialised diet; although it is still complicated. Therefore, don't make wanting to have a light weight an excuse for not climbing better. Obviously, it is important to improve muscle tone and develop the muscles that are not worked regularly, although the increase in power will be much greater than the weight gained by improving our power/weight ratio or w/kg.
The power increase will be much greater than the weight that may be gained.
Reasons to strength train:
Muscles are the engine of our body. The stronger they are, the better your performance.
Improve resistance. With greater strength, loads can be moved more easily, doing so faster or for a longer time with less fatigue.
Prevent injury. If muscles are subjected to a greater load than they can assume, they end up breaking. On the other hand, the joints assume part of the exertion that the muscle cannot cope with, putting more stress on the tendons and causing greater wear.
Improved quality of life. Daily exertions are much more bearable, so we are more rested.
Increased basal metabolism. Greater muscle mass means that consumption at rest is greater. So if you take care of your diet a little, you will reach optimal weight more easily.
Best look. Although the search for good physique may not be a priority, it's great to look good in front of the mirror, thus increasing your mood and motivation.
In future posts, we will discuss how to include strength training in preparation. To get ahead, include at least two strength-focused sessions. These can be done after some gentle training and without taking too much time, prioritising mobility, core work, functional exercises and multiarticular movements.
We hope you're convinced, if you weren't already, to include strength training in your sports routine.