Cycling physical preparation: 7 exercises before the season

In the winter, many cyclists often plan to do some preparation in the weight room to build up their muscle strength. Good strength training can be a real advantage if you want to perform well during the season.

In this article, we will see in detail what are the bodybuilding exercises to be favored for the physical preparation of cycling and how to achieve them.

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The 7 best weight training exercises for cyclists

cyclist physical preparation
Your physical preparation Will cycling be successful?

1. The squat

Flagship exercise in bodybuildingThe squat allows you to develop the whole of the lower body (quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, adductors) as well as the stabilizing muscles such as the transverse (abdominal) and lumbar (back). As you can see, this is a very interesting exercise for off-season cycling physical preparation, as it allows you to work several muscle groups at the same time.

It also allows you to improve your posture since you have to keep your back straight during the whole movement. Moreover, the chest should be out so as not to round the back down the movement.

Another interesting point is the fact that it will make you gain explosiveness, which is very interesting for runners who want to increase their performance in sprinting or in puncher attacks.

To execute this movement, you don't need any special equipment. Indeed, you can very well do it with the body weight, but it is recommended to put some weight in order to improve your strength. Therefore, you can put a bag on your back and load it to the maximum in order to do sets of 6-8 repetitions maximum. You will have to do 4 sets and take 2 min of rest after each set.

Squat with a loop band

A good solution for your cyclist physical preparation at home is to use an elastic loop band to do squats. This is what I do during my sessions as you can see in this video:

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2. The thigh press

Also known as the "leg press", the thigh press is an exercise that will challenge your entire thighs. Indeed, your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes will be in action during the whole movement.

This exercise will also work on your explosiveness. Thanks to this exercise, you will have more strength in your legs.

I recommend using a 45° inclined thigh press rather than a horizontal press which requires less effort.

Just like the squat, I recommend doing heavy sets of 6-8 reps maximum with loads you are comfortable with. The goal is to progress and not to get injured before the season. In all, 4 sets with also 2 to 3 minutes of rest between sets will be sufficient.

How to replace a leg press with an elastic loop band

A resistance band can replace the weight of a machine, but it's not the easiest of exercises. However, loop bands have the advantage of being easy to use at home.

The exercise in the video below works the same muscles as the thigh press on a machine. The resistance bands are portable and compact, so they are easy to use at home or on the go. As you will see, the elastic band adds instability to the movement, which is not the case with a thigh press. However, this instability plays an interesting role by mobilizing all the stabilizing muscles of the hips.

Some videos on the net show you how to do them with both legs at the same time. But this poses a number of problems. First of all, since your hands have to hold the elastic band, they have a hard time resisting the force of the 2 legs. So, either you opt for a low resistance and your thighs don't strain, or you work one leg at a time.

3. Lunges for your cycling physical preparation

Very physical exercise, it will work all your thighs and buttocks as well as your sheathing. Indeed, it is important to keep your chest straight during this movement especially if you have weights to weigh you down. If you don't go to the gym, you can take water packs in each hand to increase the difficulty.

You will be able to do 4 sets of 12 reps, one leg after the other with a maximum of 2 minutes rest between sets. Of course, you take this rest only after having completed the series for both legs.

Doing sets of 12 reps will allow you to work more on the resistance of your muscle fibers. Thanks to this, you will have an easier time fighting muscle burn during your workouts or bike rides. Of course, the most important thing is still the "mental" that allows you to exceed your limits in all circumstances.

Lunges for a physical preparation for cycling
Doing lunges for your cycling physical preparation

4. Straight legged deadlift

Just as effective as the squat, the deadlift builds gluteal and hamstring strength. If you want to have a precise and powerful pedaling in the collars especially during the pedal rise, this exercise must become your favorite.

However, be careful on the execution of the movement, because it is very risky. The lower back must be arched and the shoulders well back in order not to risk an injury. The most important thing is to make sure that you do not round your back during the whole movement.

On this exercise, you will be able to do 4 sets of 12 repetitions with 2 min of rest between each set.

Deadlift with outstretched legs
The dead lift with stretched legs must be perfectly executed
Testoprime

This exercise of physical preparation cycling with a loop band

Nothing very difficult to do this exercise with elastic bands. I would like to point out that this is an exercise on which you should not try to create a feat. Be satisfied with a low tension and a perfect execution to avoid the risks of injury.

dead lift stretched legs with elastics
Source: bodylastics.com

5. The leg extension

The leg extension is a finishing exercise that you can perform after you have completed the multi-joint exercises (squat, thigh press, deadlift, lunges, etc.). This exercise targets only the quadriceps.

It will allow you to tear up as many muscle fibers as possible that you did not manage to destroy at the beginning of the session.

On this movement, you can do 4 long sets of 15 reps with short rest times of 1 min. An interesting variation to further intensify the workout is to reduce the load by 30 % after performing the 15 reps, then continue the set doing as many reps as possible. The burning sensation you will feel will be extreme!

Bodyweight alternative with the sissy squat

I only recently tried the sissy squat because I was looking for an alternative to the quadriceps bench. I couldn't find a good solution with the elastic bands because it was too complicated.

Until I tested the sissy squat. Bingo! Despite being 53 years old, this exercise works wonders on the quadriceps without hurting the knees. The only downside to this move is that you have to find your balance, but that comes quickly. A better solution for balance is to use a TRX strap. I present you the 2 variations in this video :

6. Leg curl for your cycling physical preparation

It is the opposite of the leg extension, the leg curl makes it possible to isolate the muscles of the hamstrings. It is also necessary to do this exercise at the end of the session since it is an exercise on which we are not going to put any weight.

The most important thing will be to focus on the execution and the amplitude of the movement in order to solicit a maximum of muscle fibers.

For your safety, it will be necessary to take care not to dig the back during the execution of the movement. Think of sheathing your abdominal muscles and buttocks to the maximum so that they intervene the least possible in the movement.

If you are doing ischios on a machine

Good to know: Leg curl benches are usually never flat, to avoid back arching. If your gym only has flat benches, try to have a cushion that you will put at the level of your belly to compensate.

For this exercise, I recommend that you do the same as the leg extension exercise, i.e., 4 sets of 15 reps with 1 min of rest between sets. You can also try a weight drop of 30 % after the 15 reps if you feel like it.

Leg curl with TRX straps or elastic band

For your home workouts, it is entirely possible to do leg curls with a TRX strap or an elastic band. Here is a presentation of these exercises for the hamstrings:

7. Bodybuilding for your cycling physical training

In cycling, good posture is essential if you want to get the most out of your power. If you have a strong core, with stabilizing and deep muscles such as the transversus, almost all of your watts will go into the bike's transmission. Proper body control will prevent you from twisting and wiggling in the saddle and wasting power unnecessarily.

You will notice that the majority of professional or high level cyclists hardly move when they pedal while sitting on their saddle. This is even more noticeable among cyclists who specialize in time trials. In addition, sleeving helps reduce lower back pain, which often occurs after several hours in the saddle.

To alleviate these problems, there are exercises of gainages that you can practice anywhere. I will share with you the 3 most answered.

The classic board

This exercise will help strengthen the deep abdominal muscle (the transverse). This muscle allows you to have a flat stomach and to keep the whole body straight. It is the most important muscle in the abdominal muscles.

During the exercise, remember to pull in your stomach and tighten your abs.

Side board

The second exercise of gainage that I have to propose to you is the lateral plank. This exercise allows you to use the transversus abdominis as well as the oblique muscles of the abdominals. The small and large serrated muscles are also solicited during this movement.

mountain climber

The last exercise is an exercise called "mountain climber". It will allow you to strengthen all the abdominal muscles, whether they are deep or visible. It is also a good cardio exercise as the movements must be intensive.

For each of these 3 exercises, I recommend that you do a circuit of 4 rounds by linking the 3 movements without resting time by doing series of 45 sec to 1min per exercise. As soon as you have done a lap, you can take a 1min rest and then do it again until you have done all 4 laps.

The useful material for your muscular reinforcement

Although many exercises can be done with body weight, I recommend using accessories that can increase muscle resistance.

The ideal is to invest a few dozen euros in resistance bands elastic. They allow you to develop your muscular power in an important way anywhere.

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Some of the movements presented in this article are particularly effective with TRX type suspension straps. This mobile equipment provides access to over 300 strength training exercises.

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LOEV weight training strap for home & on the go - sling...
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An inexpensive product to start with
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TRX GO suspension strap - for fitness anywhere, even...
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Physical preparation for cycling - Conclusion

During your winter preparation, you can now strengthen your body with all of these exercises. You can do these exercises 3 to 4 times a week in order to progress efficiently.

When training your legs, do not exceed 3 polyarticular exercises (squat, deadlift, thigh press and lunges) and 2 isolation exercises so 5 exercises in total per session. However, you can do the exercises in each session. Good training to all and good luck!

This great article was written with the assistance of Anaël Schall, a former high level cyclist and now a weightlifter. 

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Last updated on 2022-03-03 / Affiliate links / Some images are sourced from the Amazon Product Advertising API

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