Cycling

5 Exercises To Improve Bike Strength

Dec 01, 2021
Innerforce

There are a million reasons why being strong on the bike will improve you as a triathlete. Whether it is making up for a slow swim, being able to preserve energy for the run, not being fazed by hilly courses, or simply injury prevention; a strong cyclist makes for a strong triathlete.


In order to be strong on the bike, you need to be thinking in terms of building overall strength and power, along with increasing strength endurance. The harder you can push on those pedals, and the longer you can keep it up, the higher up the leader board you will find yourself; and we’re all looking for personal bests every time we compete, right? Our top exercises to improve bike strength are calf raises, walking lunges, squats, deadlifts and burpees.

 

Burpees

 


Burpees are a power exercise that will get your heart rate up in no time and your legs screaming for you to stop. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and lower into a squat, then place your hands on the floor in front of you and jump your feet back into a plank position. From there perform a press up, jump your legs forward so they land either side of your hands and then jump up into the air with as much power as you can.


Burpees are another full body exercise, especially when you add the press up in at the bottom. The key for cyclists is the explosive jump up as this is what will create the power that we are searching for.


Aim to do as many reps as you can possibly muster and then you have to beat that number every subsequent workout.

 

Calf Raises


Find a step or a block to stand on and place your feet so that your heel hangs off the back of the step. Push up onto the balls of your feet as high as you can, hold and lower down as far as you can.


Your calf muscles are utilized every time you press down on your pedals by keeping your foot stable on the pedal and transferring power from your upper leg. By building strong calf muscles, you will ensure that you are able to transfer that power in an efficient way. This exercise also mimics the constant contraction and extension of the muscle that happens when we cycle.


Grab some dumbbells that are heavy enough that you burn out after 6-10 reps and repeat for 3 sets. Increase the weight when it gets too easy and watch those calves start to become chiselled.

 

Walking Lunges

 


Stand up straight with a dumbbell in each hand and step out your right foot in front of you. Lower your back knee until it gently kisses the ground, enduring that your right knee doesn’t go further forward than your right ankle. From here, push up and walk your left foot in front of you and repeat this motion.


Walking lunges target the quads, glutes and hamstrings which are all the big powerhouse muscles used when cycling. While the standard lunge works these group too, the walking lunge has the added benefit that it will work your balance too.


6-10 reps on each leg and repeat for 3 sets and you will have a fire burning in your legs like never before.

 

Squats


Be sure to get your form correct before going heavy on this exercise in order to remain injury free. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width and your feet slightly turned out. Tighten your core for stability and then squat back as if you were sitting on a low stool. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, push up to a standing position with controlled power. You can start with an empty barbell resting across your shoulders until you are comfortable with the movement, and then start to increase the weight.


Squats target all the major muscle groups in your legs, with a big focus on the glutes. This means that you can really rack up some heavy weight on the bar for this exercise and build massive strength.


Aim for 3-6 reps and repeat for 3 sets.

 

Deadlifts

 


This is another exercise that you want to get the technique down before attempting to lift heavy. The key is to keep a natural bend in the spine throughout the lift, and never round your back. Stand over the barbell with your midfoot under the bar. Grip the bar shoulder-width apart, bend your knees until you feel your shins kiss the bar, straighten your back and lift your chest up and then simply stand up. Be sure to lower with control as this will give your muscles an extra workout and encourage good form.


Deadlifts are a great full body exercise but the focus is heavily on the back and legs. Once you get the hang of the movement you can start adding more weight and you will feel like a beast in the gym and on the bike.


Aim for 3-6 reps and repeat for 3 sets.

  

Final Thoughts


Stepping into the gym to lift some weights is a great way to break up the routine of endurance training and let off some steam. Make this simple circuit a part of your weekly training schedule and see your average speeds increasing, along with the size of your legs.

 

Written for Innerforce by Stewart Spiessens 

Photos: @gunnar_eichler @coach_thome

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