Weight Lifting for Cyclists Do’s & Dont’s
Spending some time lifting weights in the gym can be a great way to avoid muscle imbalances, prevent injury and increase power on the bike. However, lifting weights is not without risk. Below is a quick list of do’s and don’ts to make sure your gym workouts provide maximum benefit and minimum risk.
Don’t – Start with Heavy Weight
Using heavy weights right out of the gate might impress onlookers (but probably won’t because your a skinny bike rider) but this isn’t an exercise your muscles are used to so a weight you have to struggle with is much more likely to result in injury. Also heavy weight makes it hard to keep good form and excessive body English reduced the benefit on target muscles and again increases the likelihood of injury.
Start with light weight and good form, this will teach your body the correct movements and avoid injuring yourself. High reps with a light weight will build increased muscle endurance instead of bulk. Plus you won’t look as silly as you think, if you are easily lifting light weights it is clear to everyone that you could lift more, as opposed to grunting and struggling with moderate weight.
Don’t – Focus Just on Legs
Yes, they turn the pedals but the rest of your body matters as well and your legs are already getting a good workout when you are riding while many other muscle groups are not.
Do – Include Core & Upper Body
Maximize off the bike training benefit by really working your core next time you hit the gym. Your core muscles stabilize the hip joints and provide a strong platform for your massive legs to push against. Core workouts should include side muscles (obliques) and back muscles which can drastically reduce back pain on long rides. Including some upper body exercise will help with posture, bike handling and injury mitigation in a crash.
Don’t – Use the Knee Extension Machine
It can boost your ego to see the way your quads bulge when doing knee extensions but the risks are not worth the rewards. Extending the knee from a heavily flexed position compresses between the back of the kneecap and thighbone which will eventually wear down cartilage.
Do – Squats or Less-Press
These will give you the leg workout you are looking for while evenly distributing forces and taking pressure of your kneecaps. Remember to begin with light weights and focus on good technique.
About the Author:
Craig Richey is a multiple time Canadian National team member, representing Canada at mountain bike World Cups and cyclocross World Championships. Craig is currently doing an MBA in Boston and recently launched SponsorConnected.com