Three Things to Know About Creating a Simple Gym Routine for Cyclists
- Use the six main movements of how our body naturally moves.
- Do enough repetitions to fatigue but not blitz the muscles.
- Build in two sessions a week to prevent injury, add strength, and build better movement.
Cyclists Need Strength Training for Durability
For anyone, it can be bewildering to walk into a gym not knowing exactly what you’re going to do to build a simple gym routine for cyclists.
Strength training twice a week will help build a stronger foundation for the work you’re asking your body to do.
Building muscle helps endurance, makes you more durable and resilient, and builds the core and hip strength to muscle up climbs and sprints.
But what do you do, and how do you fit it into your regular training?
You can periodize your strength training or simply create a simple gym routine for cyclists.
How Our Bodies Move Helps Create a Simple Strength Training Routine
The six movements of full-body strength training are an easy and effective structure for your simple gym routine.
These movements can be done with a variety of exercises, depending on your experience and comfort with free weights.
Plus you can alternate the movements to maximize your efficiency in the gym.
So full-body strength training for endurance sports does not need to mean long hours in the gym.
Here’s an example of a routine you can do during the season with or without weights.
You Have a Lot of Options to Choose From With Strength Training
I read a lot of research about strength training for cyclists and runners.
While there are some exercises, like deadlifts and kettlebell swings, that directly help cyclists, most of what we need is overall physical strength.
Face it, if you ride all the time, you’re going to get hurt.
But if you use a strength routine that gets all of you stronger and more resilient, your performance will improve.
Six Main Types of Basic Human Movement
The six movements are:
- Chest Push – to develop chest and arm strength
- Chest Pull – to develop back and arm strength
- Shoulder Push – to develop shoulder, arm, and upper body strength
- Shoulder Pull – to develop shoulder, arm, back strength
- Hinge – deadlift-type movements that strengthen glutes, hamstrings, hip stabilizers, and lower back.
- Squat – to develop leg, hip, and back strength.
If you use these six movements to build a simple gym routine for cyclists, you’ll build the strength, durability, and endurance you need on the bike.
It’s true that there are other ways of structuring time in the gym: Pull/Pull, body parts, etc.
That’s fine if you want to spend more time in the gym.
But if your goal is to build strength for cycling, the more time you can spend on your sport, the better.
I might also add specific core work and a side lunge to build additional stabilizing strength.
One Movement Might be Several Exercises
The best part about using these six movements to build a simple gym routine for cyclists is that you have a lot of options.
For example, a chest push might be a bench press, dumbbell press, dumbbell flyes, seated cable press, machine chest press, or TRX bands.
And a chest pull might be seated rows, cable rows, bent over rows with a dumbbell, band pulls, or inverted rows with a barbell, etc.
As long as you do at least one exercise for each of these movements, you’ll get a full body strength workout.
Less Stable Equals More Strength
I will always advocate for dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, and other “unstable” loads for your exercise.
An “unstable load” is an exercise that requires stabilizer muscles to hold up the weight.
For example, if you do a one-arm dumbbell chest press, that exercise utilizes not only your chest and arm, but the whole side to keep you from rolling off the bench!
The dumbbell is very unstable, and you have to use more stabilizer muscles to keep the dumbbell stable.
Alternatively, if you do a machine chest press, you primarily use just your chest and arm muscles in isolation.
Those stabilizer muscles aren’t as required.
One of the best exercises for cyclists is a Bulgarian Split Squat, where you put your back foot on a bench, bend your back knee down to the floor and raise up on your front foot.
Adding dumbbells on your side, at your shoulders, or even over your head makes the exercise even more unstable!
What to Consider While Strength Training For Cycling
Here are some more ideas to consider for your full-body endurance sport strength training workout:
- You can alternate movements, such as hinge and chest pull, to create supersets and maximize your time in the gym. Avoid doing the shoulder pull and press at the same time, though!
- The number of repetitions depends on the weight you’re using. You should shoot for between six and 10 repetitions for two sets. Your goal is to fatigue the muscles.
- The goal is to fatigue the muscles, not jack up your heart rate. So if you’re breathing hard after a set, take a few moments to let the HR come back down.
- You can do multiple exercises for the same movement. For example, you can do a traditional squat, Bulgarian split squat, and pistol squats with the TRX to really fatigue your legs and hips.
- The older you are, the longer it takes to recover from strength work. Limit your sessions to twice a week.
- I’ve been doing an interval session on the bike in the morning, then strength training in the evening two days a week, giving myself a full two days of recovery.
- Doing a negative, or slowly releasing the lift, is a solid way to fatigue the muscles. If you’re doing bodyweight, doing negatives is a great way to build fatigue without doing a million repetitions.
- You can use weights or do bodyweight exercises to to build a simple gym routine for cyclists.
Contact me to ask questions and talk more about making your endurance training effective.