Thursday, November 4, 2010

Weight Training for Cyclists

This blog is actually Part III of my Weight Training series.  In Parts I and II (2008 blogs) I talked about the importance of a Weight Training Plan as part of your Annual Cycling Training Plan.  In this blog, I'm going to give you some advice on how to get started.

For a lot of you, the thought of lugging your skinny ass to the gym is frightening.  It's as if all those bodybuilders in the gym will start laughing as soon as you walk in the door.  Trust me, they won't.  They're too busy looking at themselves in the mirror to notice you.  haha

BTW, if you can't afford a gym and you want to workout at recommendation would be to go to a good Sporting Goods store and buy three items: Swiss Ball, Dumbbells and Resistance Bands.  If you want more training stuff, you can buy Kettlebells, Bosu Balls, Weighted Balls, etc.  Do a Google Search on these items and you'll find great workouts online.

I'm not going to give you specific weight training cycling workouts.  You can get them off the internet.  Just make sure they are cycling specific.  You don't want to waste your time on shoulder or chest exercises.  You want to select exercises that work numerous joints whenever possible.  I also choose exercises where I can work my legs independently- just like on the bike.  For you gym-goers, stay away from the free weights.  Yeah, I know there are benefits to balancing the free-weights, but the risks are far greater.  Stick with the machines- safety first!  Also, unless you want to entertain the thought of a herniated disc..I'd stay away from the squat rack and heavy weights.  (I've got two herniated discs)

Speaking of NOT pick a weight that is too heavy.  Initially, you want to choose a weight that you can perform 12-15 reps with.  If you can't, it's too heavy.  (If you can do more reps than 15 the weight is too light.)  Secondly, when lifting the weight..lift slowly.  Do NOT jerk the weight.  I see this all the time at the gym.  Not only do you risk injury jerking weights, you're not isolating the muscles you want to train.  When breathing, you want to breath-out when lifting the weight.  An easy way to remember is: blow the weight up!  i.e. you're exhaling on the concentric (lifting) phase.  If you don't breath correctly, you're going to feel sick after an hour of weight training.

Your approach to Weight Training should be the same as your Cycling Training.  Just like the overload principle is the foundation of your cycling training program, it should also the foundation of your weight training program.  Remember, the overload principle states that a muscle will get stronger and more fatigue resistant the more you call upon it.  Don't start out too much too soon.  Go easy initially.  It's all about Progressive Resistance training....NOT Immediate Resistance Training.

When putting your weight training program together you want to choose enough leg and core exercises to do the job in one hour.  You don't want to spend any more time than that. And, as I said before, don't waste your time on upper body exercises..unless you have more than one hour.  Initially, you want to spend at least 1-2 visits to the gym per week and build to 3-4 visits per week.  I like scheduling gym workouts every other day- for a rest day in-between.  I ALWAYS spin at high cadence before and after my weight training sessions (for about 15 min.) because I want my leg muscles to remember that they're supposed to be strong and FAST.  You can't produce good power on the bike unless your legs are strong and fast.

For now (November into December), you want to start slowly with relatively low weight and high reps and stress "stability"- specifically those core exercises.  You may want to start with just 2 visits to the gym per week.  In January and February you want to focus more on strength building exercises. Your exercise weight will increase and your reps will drop.  You'll want to combine two different types of exercises back-to-back: a stability (core) exercise right after a strength exercise.  According to Ken Doyle and Eric Schmitz, authors of Weight Training for Cyclists, "This form of training will take your strength and stability to the next level".  You'll also want to frequent the gym more regularly like 3-4 visits per week.  March is Power month.  That's where you combine the strength that you built up in January and February with Speed.  (Remember: Power= Force or Strength x Speed)  I like to do my Power Workouts outside on the bike- particularly in/on the hills.  From April thru October you want to maintain what you built.  Yes, that's through the racing season.  Don't fret, it only requires 1 visit to the gym each week for an hour.  Or, as I said earlier, you can do the workouts at home.

I know this isn't everything you need to know about Weight Training for Cyclists.  If you want more info, do some research on the internet (there is plenty of good info out there).  You can also buy Doyle's and Schmitz's book- it's a good read.  I like their approach to Weight Training.  It just makes a whole lot of sense.  We're not trying to turn into bodybuilders..just get we're faster on the bike- and remain injury free.

Power ON!  Coach Rob

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