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Fitness on and off the bike

30 January, 2014 0 comments

Fitness for cyclists



If you are looking get more from your time on the bike and be able to take your cycling to another level altogether, you may want to think about working on your fitness even more, not just on your bike, but in the gym as well. Professional cyclists know that they need to work hard off the bike to gain an edge over their opponents. You can train exercises that are sports specific and target the muscle groups that you will use when you are on the bike.

Being a competent cyclist is all about transmitting power from your body to the pedals, if your whole body is working as a cohesive unit, this transmission of power will be more efficient. The main driving force for this power will be your legs, backed up by a strong core. The time you spend in the saddle will help condition your body for cycling, but the time that you spend training in the gym working on cycling specific exercises will also boost your riding. This type of training is not just a benefit to sprinters, as a recent American survey discovered that a 12 week resistance training programme increased a cyclists time to exhaustion by 33%, meaning they could ride further at a higher intensity.


These exercises will work the muscles that you use on the bike, they should be done explosively so that your muscles are moving at speed like they would be on the bike.

Each exercise should be performed for 3 sets, for 12 reps or 12 reps each side.


Weighted Step-ups

With the weighted exercises you can use either dumbbells held in each hand or a light barbell across your back or held in front of you.

Stand in front of a bench looking straight ahead. Place one foot on the bench and step up with the other foot.  Then step back down with the same foot. Complete all the reps for one side before swapping.  A great exercise for developing power in your legs.


One Leg Romanian Deadlift

Another invaluable exercise to develop power in your legs. Stand holding a light barbell across your thighs. Now, stand on one leg with your back straight and use your core to help you balance. Start to bend forward from your hips, keeping your back straight and lowering the weight towards the floor.



This is a compound exercise that will involve your whole body working together, from your upper back muscles, through your core to your legs. Stand in front of a barbell with your feet shoulder width apart. Keep your shoulders back and your back straight, bend at the hips and knees to pick up the bar with an overhand grip. Make sure that when you bend, you keep your shins as upright as you can and not let your knees travel further than your toes.


Fitness Band Squat

Get a strong fitness band and tie it above your knees with your feet about shoulder width apart so that you feel the tension in your legs. Now squat down keeping the tension in your legs at all time.


Fitness Band One-Leg Press

Lie on your back, holding the ends of a strong fitness band in each hand. Bend one knee so that you can loop the band under your foot. Now press your leg out straight, then return it to the bent position before continuing. This exercise replicates the downward movement of the pedal cycle.


Ab-Wheel Roll Out

This is a brilliant exercise that will really work your core. You will start on your knees with your back straight, holding the ab-wheel beneath your shoulders. Tense your core muscles and roll the wheel out in front of you, using your abdominals to control the movement.



This a simple, but deceptive exercise. Keeping your body in a straight line, with your feet together and your upper body supported on your elbows and forearms. You have to tense your whole body to keep your body in a straight line. Start with holding the plank for 30 seconds and then try to go longer.



Training on The Bike

Of course there are many ways to vary your cycling to boost your performance. You may be able to ride long distances at a constant speed which will help build a good foundation for your fitness, but introducing various types of cycling to your training will work your body in different ways and improve your fitness and your performance.


Interval Training

Interval training are periods of harder riding separated by shorter periods of easier riding. Training like this will enable you to ride for a higher total amount of time at a harder pace than if you just tried riding at that pace without resting. Intervals are a great way to boost your anaerobic capabilities, so will allow you to train more efficiently. Start with three intervals of six minutes separated by four minutes of easy riding, then try to build this up to three or four intervals of ten minutes. Then you can start cutting back the time of your intervals but pushing even harder, so you end up doing intervals of between 30 seconds and two minutes, with the equal amount in an easier gear. This is a great way of developing raw power in your cycling.


Speed Sessions   

Speed sessions are ridden as full-on sprints of 10 to 20 seconds, with three to five minutes of very easy riding time to allow you to recover. This allows you to train at a very high intensity, but only for very short periods. Speed sessions are best done nearer the start of your ride, maybe just after your warm up, with about 3 to 5 sprints and plenty of rest in between each one.


Hill Climbs

Hill climbs can help your riding in two way, first they can help you ride hills better when you come across them on a ride or in a race and they will also raise your anaerobic threshold and ride at a harder capacity. Try a long climb in a gear that you can spin at 90 rpm and ride at a pace that you can manage for 20 minutes. Try shorter, steeper climbs that will have you riding out of the saddle. To really test yourself, try riding in the saddle in a gear higher than you would normally use.



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