weight training

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Anonymous's picture

I keep reading about the value of weight training in improving cycling ability but I've yet to see a suggested workout that I could do at home. Any ideas?

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Heath (not verified)
Another opinion on weight training.
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George Arcarola (not verified)


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John Z (not verified)
Think Power, not Strength

I totally agree. Cycling performance,with the possible exception of sprinting, is not about strength, it is about power, more specifically, aerobic power. Therefore, the best way to increase cycling performance is to increase your aerobic power output. This best done by interval work in the 6 and 20 minute range. Find a hill that takes you about six minutes to climb (for me the Alpine work well) and work your way up to 5-6 repeats. Progress to efforts taking 20 minutes (Bear Mountain) and do 2-3 repeats there. In addition, long rides at a moderate effort will also increase your efficiency, reducing power requirements for any given effort. Long rides also increase the body's ability to use body fat as an energy source; therefore, saving your muscle glycogen for when it is really needed.

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Matthew (not verified)
further reading

If your goal is to do centuries and fast group rides, it's true as others note here that weight training is probably not the best use of your time. Strengthening your core muscles and increasing your flexibility may help, but it's secondary to doing endurance work on the bike.

On the other hand, despite what Ric Stern says, weight training is beneficial for racing. You'd be hard pressed to find a professional cyclist these days who doesn't do some work in the gym in the winter.

The Carmichael/Armstrong book (7 Weeks to be like Lance, or whatever it's called) has some basic discussion of weight training that you might find useful. This series on spokepost.com is more detailed if you're interested:


I wouldn't worry too much about starting a weight training program now, though. November-March is really the time to do it, and it will help to have a full season's riding in your legs first as a base.

Anonymous's picture
Kristin Stodola (not verified)
physiologic consequences of training

Srength training is great to rehab injuries, but it has been well researched that to improve aerobic/anaerobic power performance you need to focus on the muscle mass that you wish to activate while training.

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John Z (not verified)
I Strongly Disagree

"""but it has been well researched that to improve aerobic/anaerobic power performance you need to focus on the muscle mass that you wish to activate while training...""

This is a highly debatable subject. The link above to several articles by Stern talks to this in detail.

My personal experience from the past, when I was an extremely strong, muscular 185 pound guy was that when I was my ""strongest"" in terms of reps/weight I was at my weakest in terms of aerobic power, and when I was my strongest in terms of aerobic power, I was at my weakest ""stength"". The day I stopped doing heavy weight lifting during the off-season was the first day for me towards being the cyclist I wanted to be. Time spent lifting weights is better spent perfoming power-endurance workouts on the bike."

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Kristin Stodola (not verified)
I agree with you...

We are saying the same thing- to improve climbing skills one must train hills. Sorry- I guess what I wrote seemed confusing.

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Richard Rosenthal (not verified)
How can you train a hill, and to do what?

"Kristin writes, ""We are saying the same thing: to improve skills one must train hills.""

How do you train a hill? And what can you train a hill to do? It doesn't seem right that I should train it to roll over...since I have trouble rolling over them.



Anonymous's picture
Peter Storey (not verified)
Beyond a certain age . . .

You can't. Everyone knows you can't teach an old slog new tricks.

And I have it on good authority that all the climbs around here are old. Old as the hills, in fact.

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
Hill training

>How do you train a hill? And what can you train a hill to do? It doesn't seem right that I should train it to roll over...since I have trouble rolling over them.

You CAN train a hill to flatten itself before you, –but as PS writes, some hills are old and it takes them a long time to learn (and yes, they can sense fear). So you have to go back there time and again to train them, in time they will change to mere bumps. (I am being contentious.)

I myself am feeling a little sluggish from the prolonged winter, and my training for the power of levitation is a little behind schedule. My regiments for Yogic Flight can’t seem to get off the ground.


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John Z (not verified)

"Yes, you can train the hills. 10 years ago, when I first got into cycling, I lived in Pennsylvania -- a state not know for its flatness. About 5 miles from my home was what I remembered to be a killer of a hill, one to dread because I always had to climb it near the end of a ride.

Earlier this year, for the first time in many years I was riding in this part of Pennsylvania. All of a sudden I remember ""that climb"" was coming up. I had ridden about 50 nonstop miles and was looking forward to my one planned stop, but I had to get over this hill. All of a sudden, memories of dread flashed into my mind. But things are a bit different now. I looked at the hill, got into a reasonable climbing gear (53X21), and breezed over the once dreaded hill."

Anonymous's picture
heath (not verified)
reasonable climbing gear?

I always thought you should be in your small chainring while climbing. 53x21 seems light a big gear to be pushing up a hill. Have I been led astray?

And if your bike is a double chainring 53/39 with a 11-23 on the rear, wouldn't your chain be grinding against the derailer? I was under the notion that you should not cross your chain accross the gears like this. If it was an 11-27, does that reduce the angle enough?

Curious on how all of this works.

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Fixer (not verified)
53/21 = 68 inches

Well below what I run. But then again, I'm not dragging all those extra derailleurs, cogs, rings and chain links up the hills, either.

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John Z (not verified)
68 Inches...

Hardly what I would run in a flat. I mentioned 53X21 merely to annotate what was a jovial back and forth thread. Was that the actual gear, can't really remember. Don makes some good points that reflect my approach to small to medium hills.

On the real stuff, I always use a gear that will give me at least 80 RPM for the climb's duration, if possible. Given this, my standard cluster is 12-27, hence in the aformentioned example, a 53X21 does not cross-chain me too much (two gears to go). There are certain climbs where a 27 can come in handy, becuase if you go too low in cadence, you won't be at maximum power.

Anonymous's picture
don montalvo (not verified)

when i raced in central park, we used to hit the hill at a high enough speed to be able to get over the top in our 53x17 or 53x19. there were times when we hit the hill at a lower speed and had to shift to the inner ring.

since my biggest fear was dropping my chain, i always had a 42 inner chainring...then all i had to do was get used to double-shifting (simultaniously going from the 53 to the 42 chainring...and going from the 19 to the 17 cog). it was harder to drop a chain when you double-shifted.


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George Arcarola (not verified)

Thank you ALL very much, I accept your wisdom... and smile at your humor... training hills indeed.

Anonymous's picture
tony (not verified)
on the bike strength training

I have been doing on bike strength training by using very large gears(53x12) at low cadence(40-50 rpm ) both outside and indoor on a trainer and I have found this to be a very effective method for bike specific strength training . I think this is much better then weight lifting . With this workout it’s very important as with any strength workout to use proper form that is push-down then pull-up.
I’m not sure if this workout is for everyone but with a proper gear , cadence and form most people will benefit.

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