There is a common misconception that cyclists do not need to lift weights or just need to work the hamstrings and quads; but both opinions are misguided.
The benefits of sport specific resistance training for cyclists are numerous and compelling for both injury prevention and performance enhancement. Whether professional cyclists lift weights or not is certainly not the criteria for the value of resistance training for recreational riders. Proper strength training, when performed with flexibility training, does not cause injury nor does it have to “bulk” you up or make you tight. Well designed resistance training programs, when done properly, actually prevent injury, improve flexibility, increase speed, improve endurance and increase longevity.
Additionally, all of us need to be concerned with the loss of bone mass as we age. While two out of 4 women will suffer a fracture related to Osteoporosis in their life time, one out every man will too. Likewise, the loss of muscle mass as we age (Sarcopenia) is a fact of life with far reaching implications. With less metabolically active muscle on our bodies, we burn less calories resulting in the insidious weight gain common in later life that becomes an unhealthy anchor and begets still more inactivity. These conditions can be prevented and/or delayed with resistance training. In our opinion, and supported by science, everyone needs to practice resistance training.
The main concerns we encounter with cyclists who want to incorporate strength training into their routine is that they do not have time, do not know what to do, how often to do it and they have a fear of getting injured lifting weights. We understand and agree, there are dangers in the gym and a lack of science based knowledge among trainers and gym staff. Strength training for cyclists is not body building, it is not what you may have done in high school gym class or what is done in most gyms today. In fact you don’t need a trainer or even a gym. A science based program designed by an experienced physical therapist and instructed properly can be done without a trainer in your home or at the gym.
Workouts should first isolate and strengthen smaller, weaker muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding each joint to create stability before moving on to the heavier compound or multi-joint exercises that we are most familiar with By doing this the joints (where two or more bones come together) will be able to move through a full range of motion while all the muscles, tendons, ligaments surrounding the joint will function in harmonic balance to keep bones properly aligned and prevent injury.
Well designed strength and flexibility programs have these characteristics:
• Focus on creating proper bio-mechanics in the key areas that are critical to riders
• Target the areas of the human body that are inherently vulnerable to injury
• Address your personal mechanical deficiencies as determined by a physical therapy structural exam
• Achieve joint stability to assure the bones articulate properly at each joint before lifting heavier weights
• Follow the principles of Periodization Training to assure it is effective and sustainable
• Allow for adequate recovery between strength training sessions
• Train one’s physiological attributes for long enough to create the desired adaptation and then varies
In summary, strength training provides significant improvements in overall health and functional benefits for cyclists to prevent injury and improve performance.
A properly designed strength program is designed to achieve the mechanics that exploit your body’s built in economy of motion.
At PHASE IV we have 35 years of experience helping athletes achieve injury free peak performance. Our athletes have won over 60 Olympic Track and Field medals and set numerous world records; and now the same science is available to you.
We will begin with a head to toe structural analysis performed by a qualified physical therapist and use the data collected to create a personalized strength and flexibility program to meet your needs in the time you have available.