Benefits of Strength Training For Cycling

    Strength training for cycling has many benefits proven out by various studies. It will 1.) Improve cycling endurance 2.) Raise your lactate threshold(LT) 3.) Increase total amount of force applied to the pedals 4.) Increase ride to exhaustion period 5.) Protects against injury 6.) Rebalance body strength. If any of those terms went over your head go ahead and read on and I will explain in detail what they are and how strength training will improve that area of cycling.

Cycling Endurance

    Research has shown that strength training for cycling shows positive gains in endurance performance without any change in you VO2max. VO2max, by the way, is how much oxygen your body can consume at maximum exertion, this is also known as aerobic power and maximal oxygen consumption. You may wonder how can your endurance increase without increasing you aerobic power. The probable cause of this is because during a ride you will begin to use more slow-twitch muscles(muscles used for endurance) instead of the fast-twitch muscles(muscles used for power with low aerobic power). You are using more of the muscles that have a higher aerobic power while your overall aerobic power remains the same. Also fast-twitch muscles fatigue faster than slow-twitch muscle thus increasing your cycling endurance.

Lactate Threshold (LT)

    Strength training for cycling will raise your LT. You may be wondering what does lactate threshold(LT) even mean. When your muscle begin to ever themselves they produce lactate acid and that is then flushed away by your body at a certain rate. Your LT is the point at which your body is producing more lactate acid than can be flushed away. At that point you will have entered into your anaerobic power, which is exercise without the help of oxygen. Strength training for cycling  will cause you to use more slow-twitch muscles than fast-twitch muscles. This means less lactate acid is being produced; raising the point at which your body becomes anaerobic.

Pedal Force

    This is a relatively simple concept that if you have more strength you can apply more force to the pedal. Great output is always associated with faster riding.

Exhaustion Period

    Strength training for cycling will increase your ride to exhaustion period. This is how long you can ride at any given intensity before you succumb to exhaustion. The improvements in this field show a positive change of about 10 to 33 percent. The results are most distinct in new riders and don’t affect the more experienced rider so dramatically.

Cycling Injury Protection

    This is a big worry for almost all cyclists, whether you just do it for exercise or if you are a professional cyclist you want to avoid injuries in whatever way you can. The weakest part of your muscle is where they connect to the tendon. This is the point at which most muscle tears occur. With strength training it increases the load capacity of these muscle-tendon unions. This safeguards you against injuries during sudden change in power such as when accelerating quickly or sprinting.

Rebalance Body Strength

    Strength training for cycling will rebalance your body’s overall strength. These imbalances could be the big nasty ones such as having a strong lower body and a weak upper body. It can also affect the smaller differences such as the two muscle that oppose each other on the same joint. An example of this is you bicep and triceps both acting on your elbow. This will also reduce injury.

With such a broad range of improvements it is almost guaranteed that strength training for cycling will make you a better cyclist. If you are a competitive racer just a few percentage points to any of these fields could mean the difference between winning or losing. If you just cycle for the benefits realize that strength training will only increase and broaden those benefits.


4 responses to “Benefits of Strength Training For Cycling

  1. Being an exercise science major, this is a great article for the general public. The explanations were really good. Cheers to that! Couple comments:

    “If you just cycle for the benefits realize that strength training will only increase and broaden those benefits.”

    It will also help you avoid injuries. I am having trouble with pella-femoral strength and feel a grinding every once and a while when I pedal uphill or just start a sprint. I have been out of the gym (yes, I do know better) and this was a great timed article! It will be getting me back in the gym tomorrow… especially since it is suppose to rain

    “At that point you will have entered into your anaerobic power, which is exercise without the help of oxygen.”

    From my learning, anaerobic is with little oxygen not no oxygen at all (that would be hypoxic correct?). I will have to dig out my textbooks and look this one up again.

    Again, great article overall!

    • Thanks it is great to hear that you find little wrong with this ol’ boy’s article. It is just a very basic article telling of the general benefits. I did however include how it helps avoid injury and you let me know about the hypoxic term. Thanks for the comment and I am very glad I didn’t end up doing something completely wrong. Oh and by the way as far as it raining outside maybe you should check into my Riding in the Rain post!

      • The term hypoxic means “without oxygen”. Being a swimmer, we do hypoxic 50s meaning no breath 50s. When something is hypoxic, it means that it is without oxygen. Anaerobic power has very little oxygen consumption so picky people will say it is not hypoxic but it essentially is.

        I have read your riding in the rain. I have done it many time (not on purpose) but when you are out on a 40 mile out and back route and it starts raining, not much you can do…

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