Cycling prep program: Muscular strength |

Cycling prep program: Muscular strength

By Jackie Wright

If you have been training indoors either in an indoor group cycling program or on your home trainer, or both, you are ready to jump on your road or mountain bike and hit the road—it has been a long winter! Hopefully, you have included muscular strength training as we know how critical it is for our muscular system to be strong as it supports the skeletal system promoting excellent performance on and off the bike.

Balancing the muscular strength system is key, particularly since cycling is largely a sagittal plane movement pattern and is also predominately non-weight bearing. Therefore, in order to “counter” this single plane, non-weight bearing aspect of cycling, frontal and transverse plane movement patterns should be included with weight and load bearing muscular strength training. Integrate the following exercises into your training program throughout the year. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.

Perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions of the following exercises, choosing one exercise from each category (i.e. Dead Lifts/Single Leg Squats w/overhead press/Pull Ups/V-sit rotations), on two-three non-consecutive days/week.

Master each movement pattern prior to adding any external load.

To address lower body muscular strength:

■ Dead Lifts – great exercise that targets the gluteus maximus/hamstrings/nose to toe core – think of climbing!

■ Squats – heels down and tailbone facing the wall behind you are essential components of this exercise which is a must for cyclists. Add external load or perform on an unstable surface such as a BOSU Balance Trainer or Strongboard. Targets the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes and nose to toes core.

To address stability/balance strength:

■ Lunges – this is a split leg stance movement pattern; therefore, it requires a great deal of balance and stability to maintain this position. Targets the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes and nose to toes core

■ Single Leg Squats w/overhead press – this compound exercise requires you to stand on one leg, perform a squat from that position with the dumbbell in the opposite hand and then as you return to the beginning erect position, pressing the dumbbell overhead. Targets the quadriceps/hamstrings/glutes/deltoids and nose to toes core.

■ Side Lunge – this frontal plane movement pattern counters the sagittal plane in which cyclists predominately train. It may be performed stationary or dynamically alternating sides. And, may become a compound exercise adding a medicine ball press to the opposing side adding in a transverse plane movement. Targets the quadriceps/hamstrings/hip abductors-adductors/gluteus maximus/nose to toes core and deltoids if the medicine ball is integrated.

To address upper body muscular strength:

■ Triceps Pushdowns – this exercise is also essential as strengthening the triceps provides stabilization on the handlebars.

■ Pull Ups/Chin Ups/Pushups – all three are body weight exercises that promote strength and stability leading to improved control of the bike without excessive fatigue. Pull Ups and Chin Ups target the latissimus dorsi, deltoids and biceps and pushups target the pectorals/deltoids/triceps and all three promote nose to toes core stability.

To address total body core strength:

■ V-sit rotations – perform with a medicine ball, ViPR, body bar or versa log – addresses the transverse plane and promotes transfer of power. Targets the torso rotators (i.e. external obliques, etc.) and entire nose to toes core.

■ Mountain Climbers/Knee Tucks/Superman/Lateral Flexion – all three are excellent nose to toes core exercises including scapulo-thoracic/lateral torso flexors/erector spinae muscle strengthening emphasis.

— Jackie Wright is the owner/manager of Mountain Life Fitness, LLC located in Granby. She may be reached at her website at or email at

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