Today, Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How Cyclists Can Gain Greater Strength and Endurance




A well known fact about cycling is that it helps develop the lower body muscles and, when practiced regularly, it helps the cyclist gain strength and endurance. A lesser-known fact is that cyclists must train not only the lower body but also the upper body through strength training.  The reasons to practice strength training as a cyclist are many.  Some of these are:

             -A strong torso provides the rigidity to deliver maximum power when
             pedaling.

            -Falls are part of the sport, and a strong upper body helps the cyclist 
             prevent injuries.

            -While in a sprint or a technical track, the upper body muscles assist    
              the cyclist in leveraging the bike which increases pedaling power.

Training the lower body also has the following benefits for cyclists:

             -Building muscle strength in the quads in legs may allow the cyclist to ride instead of walking a hill.

            -May prevent fatigue both during hills and descents.

 

Strength Training for Cyclists 

Strength training may be beneficial for cyclists with a low-mileage routine, helping them develop more strength and endurance by adding workout time. Experienced cyclists with high-mileage routines may find themselves fatigued or burned out after incorporating strength training. It is important to find a balance between strength training and the regular cycling routing to obtain real benefits.

 

When most people think about strength training, very often they have the idea of a body builder. There are other kinds of strength training that don't necessarily build bulk but do increase strength and endurance.

 

Most body builders are concerned with building mass or volume, without worrying about strength. In the case of cyclists, this size and weight is of no advantage to them when on the bike—this is the reason why they concentrate in achieving strength over mass.

 

The strength training for cyclists can be divided into three categories:

 

Endurance Training

The best way to achieve endurance is to ride for long periods of time while maintaining a steady pace. Interval training may be beneficial as well; this refers to incorporate higher speeds in the middle of a workout, closer to a race speed, and then allowing time to recuperate. Riding in terrain that provides flats and hills is ideal for endurance. Cyclists can also work on endurance off the bike, by running in intervals. This workout helps in augmenting the anaerobic capacity and leg muscle endurance.

 

 

Strength Training 

Strength is the ability to apply force against an object. The best way cyclists can achieve this is to increase the muscle fibers within a muscle, making the muscle more efficient and helping it work together with other muscle groups. Some of the exercises cyclist can do are squats, pull-ups or dead lifts.

 

The key to strength training is to lift maximum weight (gradually) with very few repetitions. With this kind of workout, you increase strength but do not increase volume. The positive effects of strength training for cyclists is more efficient quadriceps muscles, which help them maintain consistent pedaling. The muscle works more efficiently at the beginning of the ride, without having to invest all the energy, which will be applied as the muscle starts to feel fatigued.

  

Power 

One of the kinds of power training is core training. There are many core exercises that focus in stabilizing joints—these have fairly low force production and can be practiced for long periods of time.  Core exercises are usually practiced utilizing your own weight or a medicine ball. An example of a core exercise is Side Bridge. This exercise is particularly beneficial for cyclists as some experience back pain after riding for more that two or three hours.

 

These three types of training don’t necessarily require making use of machines to achieve results. It is important to train muscles in a way that they work with other muscle groups.  Often, when training with a machine, only one muscle group is being trained.

 

Strength training exercises using free weights help train multiple muscles and condition cyclists to stabilize joints. By stabilizing joints, the cyclist becomes more aware of the movement and where the energy is being applied.

 

Nutrition and Supplementation 

Carbohydrates are a key component for a cyclist to obtain strength and endurance. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy and a pre-ride meal of a carbohydrate rich food such as oatmeal four hours prior to your ride provides an ongoing supply of glucose.

 

Protein, while not a good energy source, is indispensable to the repair of muscle injuries and other trauma caused by exercise. Cyclists usually will not have to supplement with protein if the diet replaces the total calories used each day.

 

Strength training for cyclist or any other athlete looking to gain greater strength and endurance is not only composed of strenuous exercise routines or weight lifting, it requires a comprehensive study of the person’s capacities and diet.




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