Improving strength, flexibility, and power doesn’t mean boring indoor training sessions—here’s how to get stronger on the bike
Riding outside isn’t always feasible these days. The risk of infection and the strict government regulations are real threats to our love of the road. Despite these setbacks though, understand that they are all temporary and fleeting.
In the meantime, it’s important to find ways in which we can enjoy our sport while laying down the foundation so we can hammer the pedals once we finally get the chance to. In this article, we’re going to talk about how you can get stronger and faster on the bike, indoors.
Incorporate strength training and conditioning
While it’s generally true that you need to ride more to get stronger, there are other ways in which you can build strength off the bike. Strength training is perhaps one of the most important routines. If you watch documentaries about professional cyclists and triathletes, you’ll see that strength training is a huge component for most of them. Not only does it help lay down the foundation for speed and power, it can also help prevent injuries, stave off fatigue and even improve endurance.
The important thing to consider is the timing of strength and conditioning in your daily and weekly routine. Remember that if you want to reap the benefits, count this as a separate routine rather than as an add-on to your daily workout. The rationale is that you should be able to perform this on fresh legs to produce the most force and power. This will allow you to stress your body the right way. In the same breath, remember to give your body enough recovery time after strength training. Take it easy a day or two after a session before you log in long and intense miles.
Sample workout: Do three to four sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of the below routine to supplement your riding. Rest two minutes between sets. You may use dumbbells or just your body weight
Step-ups (using a bench)
Single leg deadlifts
Farmer’s walks (30 to 40 steps per set)
Ride your trainer or stationary bike
If you love riding outdoors, chances are you might not like being cooped up while on your trainer or stationary bike. Understandably so, it might seem boring or even claustrophobic to do so. Yet riding indoors is perhaps one of the most time efficient ways of getting stronger. Imagine how much effort you’re putting in indoors versus riding outdoors: no traffic lights, constant pedaling and oftentimes, higher intensity.
To help address boredom, add proper structure. This will maximize the time you spend on the saddle versus pedaling aimlessly for hours.
Riding indoors can also help give you certain training stimuli that you otherwise may not find outdoors. For example, how often can you pedal all out for a minute without worrying about pedestrians, traffic or even road conditions? These are all non-issues indoors.
Sample workout: Warm up for 15 to 20 minutes then proceed to the main set below.
Four to five sets of 10 minutes at a moderate-hard effort (RPE of eight out of 10) followed by five minutes of riding easy. You can cool down for five to 10 minutes after.
Lower back pain and other types of discomfort on the bike are often associated with two things, a proper bike fit and/or lack of flexibility. Even with a proper fit, if you lack the flexibility and strength necessary to hold a solid cycling position, you won’t be able to maximize your aerodynamic profile, ride long and generate power. Despite these benefits, flexibility is often neglected and underestimated by a lot of recreational and intermediate athletes. There are huge gains to be found just by addressing this rather simple factor.
By having good flexibility and working on the mobility associated with it, you can put yourself in a more aggressive position on the bike. This will allow you to slice the wind better with a reduced aerodynamic profile. On top of this, you’ll find yourself more comfortable in holding a particular position for hours on end.
Sample workout: Stretch the glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors by holding these stretches for 30 counts. Perform it after every ride and after strength sessions.
Other sports can help with your cycling abilities. Most of these are something you can do at home or within your area of residence.
The foremost example is running. Yes, running technically is better done outdoors (and this is the only one on the list that requires you to venture literally outside your home) but unlike cycling, you have the ability to put in a good workout in a rather small area like your compound or village.
Also, contrary to what others think, running can complement cycling well. It helps you reduce your bodyweight more rapidly (due to the burn rate of running), helps you pack in more bone density and even helps strengthen complementary muscles that are used in cycling. Like with most things, do this in moderation. If your ultimate goal is to get stronger on the bike, think of running as a complementary sport rather than an alternative workout.
Another workout you can perform to supplement cycling is HIIT. This is a more intense form of circuit training that is similar to CrossFit. The nice thing about this is that there are various kinds of high-intensity interval training that use bodyweight. This is definitely a blessing when you’re stuck at home with minimal equipment on hand. HIIT can raise your heart rate and give you a good workout similar to what you’d feel when you’re climbing up your favorite hill.
Sample workout: You can run for 30 minutes at an easy pace the day after your cycling workouts. Alternatively, a good HIIT session would be look like the following:
Perform as a circuit. 30 reps each, no rest between workouts, five minutes rest between sets.
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