Strength training for cyclists: go slow to go fast

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Toolbox: Halloween is just around the corner, which means the vast majority of riders are now turning to weight training in an attempt to go faster. Today we take a look at the importance of slowing down the movements, to help you achieve much better strength, stability, balance and power for cycling.

How much you lift doesn’t matter

Unlike most sports, which usually come with “strength standards” or targeted bodyweight-to-body weight ratios for the major movements one “should be able to do” as a demonstration of the minimum force needed for the exercise. performance, cycling does not have a linear correlation to the weights shifted.

This may come as a shock to many, but it is the truth.

This is in part due to the positions of our sport as well as its unique requirement for “pulsating” strength, accompanied by the attachment of our feet to the pedals. These position-specific requirements make it very difficult to determine the relationship between the weight used on the bar and the results on the bike.

arundel bike t-wrench banner

HOW you move, however, is a huge determinant of cycling performance.

Slow down to see the power and speed increase

The quality of movement can be a difficult thing to quantify, especially for those new to strength training, which is one of the many reasons that “strength standards” tend to be the benchmark. Yet when you take the time to learn how to create stiffness in the right places and in the right amounts, while moving only in the areas needed, performance improvements are often surprisingly rapid.

But to get there, we need to slow down our movements, build better mind-muscle connections, as well as refine our subconscious ability to know where our body is in space.

Think of a new mountain biker trying to learn how to use the large chainring to help him roll over a tree trunk on the trail. To achieve this successfully, you need to create just the right amount of arm and core stiffness to keep the bike straight and moving forward, while staying relaxed at the hips, while pushing the pedals with enough force. force to keep riding. .

xpedo cxr pedalbanner with Brian McCullough

Easier said than done.

How do you learn to do it?

We slow down and break each skill down into a segment (and the next drop, in the author’s case, lol!), Allowing us to learn the skill.

The same goes for bodybuilding.

Using the 3-1-3-1 tempo

While we want to slow down to get a better mind-muscle connection, better quality of movement, and the push to perform better on the bike, it has to be done the right way, at the right time. And for this time of year, early core strength training, using the 3-1-3-1 tempo, is the route we want to go.

There are a number of ways to slow down our strength movements for better positioning and performance, and a number of tempos that can be used for a variety of specific training adaptations. I discuss this in more detail in Chapter 11 of my new book “Strength Training for Cycling Performance”, which I took an excerpt from here:

3-1-3-1 tempo: learn movement control, core control and prepare the body for a heavier and more explosive workout

The 3-1-3-1 workout tempo is a fantastic way for you to start your strength training program for a number of reasons. It will be:

  • Expose the breakdowns and weaknesses of FUNdamental 5 movements
  • Help you learn to produce basic control while on the move
  • Build tissue strength and resilience with more time under tension
  • Use more motor units of your muscles when you get tired
  • Use lighter weights for great results

The 3-1-3-1 tempo is a great place to start your fall or winter strength training cycles, as it will help you get on the right track quickly, giving you lots of great feedback while you develop the tissue and nervous system capabilities to be ready to handle your upcoming training. The 3-1-3-1 tempo has also proven to be a benchmark for mid-season strength for those who travel a lot or have high time demands.

An example of using this tempo is in the video below

Conclusion

Don’t fall into the traditional trap of thinking that you have to jump on heavy weights to see results and improvements in cycling. Instead, take the time to learn to move better and have more efficient and effective movements… as stated on my podcast, THIS is the golden ticket to improving performance and longevity in the gym. game of cycling and life.

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