Training legs in the gym during cycling season?

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Anonymous's picture

I have been working with a personal trainer throughout the winter who is actually a professional boxing trainer. And we usually do an intense leg workout on Thursdays. As I am now full bore into the cycling season, having just completed the Montauk Century (18mph Avg.) and would like to average 100-150 miles per week. Is it recommended that I forgoe the leg workouts and just concentrate on the boxing and upper body to supplement the cycling?

Any feedback/advice would be appreciated.

Anonymous's picture
Rob M (not verified)
Thats a big can of worms

I am only going to say:

I don't endorse this view, but it is possible he knows what he is talking about. I guess the question is: Why do you need to supplement cycling with boxing?

Anonymous's picture
Joe Z. (not verified)

"Why do you need to supplement cycling with boxing?

Because it's fun and it's a great workout. Believe me, I'm as big a hammer head as the next guy but it's nice to change things up a bit and do some core and upper body work. By the way- Thanks for the link to the article. I believe it answered my question. I'm probably gonna still use my trainer but during the cycling season, I will ease off the leg routine and do hill repeats instead. Eddy Mercks said it best: ""If you want to ride well, ride lots"""

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
Whatever works for you

Everyone will tell you something different, so you will have to judge for yourself.

I do leg workouts during cycling season because the only midweek riding I get in is on my 10-mile daily commute. Not too strenuous, besides the occasional sprint to pass a bus or merge in traffic. The workouts also improve my mental state (so does the commute).

But I won't do leg workouts past Tuesday if planning to ride on the weekend. Insufficient recovery time.

How 'bout that 15-25mph wind on Sunday, huh? I rode against it, from Montauk to Ronkonkoma. It wasn't pretty at the end, but I made my train by one minute.

Anonymous's picture
Joe Z. (not verified)

Thanks Carol. What was in Ronkonkoma?

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)

A rainstorm. And the train station, to take my weary arse home. Bikes weren't allowed on the Montauk and Babylon lines on Sunday.

I joined Marty Wolf's Twin Century weekend ride, but wasn't up for 140 miles on a fixed gear two days in a row. I started in Patchogue Saturday (tailwind was delirious), and returned to Ronkonkoma Sunday (ugh).

BTW, next year is Marty's silver anniversary for leading the Twin Century!

Anonymous's picture
Walter Lindsay (not verified)
to leg or not to leg

Typically Pro's do the (gym) strength training in the off season (Squats, lunges, leg presses etc.). In season strength training is generally accomplished on the bike (Climbs, sprints, high gear low cadence etc.).
It really depends on what your goals are and how serious you are, wether this is appropriate for you.
You also don't say what your leg workout is, and my understanding of a boxers leg workout is a series of plyometrics and rope work. Which is similar but not identical to cycling, but beneficial in its own right.
If you were aspiring to improve your cycling then do what the pros do, if you want to be a bit more chill about it then what you are doing is probably fine (assuming rope work and plyometrics).
It is very important that you get adequate recovery between your workouts as you could do more harm than good.
You might also have a word with your pt as he may be able to incorporate cycling specific workouts on a stationery bike in lieu of what you currently do and unless it's kickboxing it should not be an issue.

Anonymous's picture
John R (not verified)
Went through same thing

I went through the exact same thing. I started working with my trainer in September '04, we were focusing on legs big time, one heavy day a week: squats, quad extension, hamstrings, calves and a few other things I don't recall. On our two other days, we didn't focus exclusively on legs but we hit 'em at least for half the session, lunges, light squats, interior, exterior on the cable machine, hops, one leg squats with dumbells, etc. We kept this up into the 2005 riding season, and I got slower as the year progressed, as did my runs. My legs were just heavy and fatigued. We gave up legs altogether in August, which was better but too late, we haven't had a day on the legs since December of last year (we picked up legs again mid-October). Coming into this season, I cannot be more satisfied with my running or riding, I just set a 4 lap PR in the park (which is unfortunate because I am 40!) and I am expecting to post some great races in triathlon this year. The short answer is, when I was doing heavy legs during the season my riding suffered, but doing the legs is clearly paying off now, as they are fresh and rested. I only do swimming, cylcing and running - no weight training between January and September. Heavy legs with weights only 3 months a year, October through December. Don't give up the legs - it will pay dividends that you can't imagine, you might just want to cut back during the season. I am not an expert, but this schdule works fantastic for me, just listen to your body.

Anonymous's picture
John Miller (not verified)
Leg Strength isn't just the cycling muscles

Not an expert, either, and unlike John R. above that I only ride the bike, but also think about training those muscles in season that are not fully developed through cycling, and/or those muscles that get neglected. For example, heavy squatting will not make you faster on the bike, but light squatting -- I do it bodyweight alone or just the bar -- will activate your glutes, hamstrings and core, making you not faster on the bike, but stronger. I do pushups and pullups because they do not add bulk to the upper body, but I'd still like to pick up a suitcase when I need to. In season, riding is still the majority of my exercise, but I set aside 60-90 minutes a week to cross-train.

There's also studies I've read about (can anyone link to them?) that show a curbing of bone density loss by incorporating high-impact/weight-bearing cross-training -- weight lifting, or in John R.'s case, running -- into low-impact/non-weight bearing sports, like cycling or swimming.

Anonymous's picture
Karol (not verified)
weights off season only

Paula Newby-Frasier, who won the Hawaii Ironman multiple times, agrees with John. Weights in winter. Running, biking, swimming and no weights the rest of the time. She said the biggest problem she has as a trainer is trying to convince men to do less, not more. I've come to greatly respect recovery. I read about another triathlete, name slips my mind, who was intensely training and then became sick. He couldn't train for several months. He came out of that and blew it out of the water.

About cross training, I think in the end it makes you stronger--bones, aerobic--but you have to be smart about when and how to do it. I try to do the hard stuff--long runs, hill repeats, speed work--early in the week. Not past Wednesday, otherwise my legs just are not there for a Saturday ride.


Anonymous's picture
Kiwi (not verified)
resitance training

From what I have been told there are benefits for sure, but you need to know what you want to achieve, if you are going to specialise in sprints and track racing of course you need the kind of fast twitch explosive muscle that weight training will provide... I have been advised to get in to the gym December january and do at least 2 hypertrophy session a week ( fairly heavy for stregnth and growth) now during the season it's one maintenance session a week, (on a monday works because thats the day off the bike) single leg press (balances out the strenth particulary if you are using 1 leg more than the other) squats, calf raises and lunges. nothing more than 3 sets of 10 at about 70% effort. It is more of a wake up for the legs off the bike than a real work out, and an opportunity to do some training other than riding to keep the mind fresh. more important is training the upper body which most people neglect, I think the core strength work you get from boxing would be a real help on the bike.... in fact my personal trainer / cyclist girlfriend suggested it would be a good way to go.

Have a read of Chris Carmichaels book the ultimate ride, pages 68 - 81 lay out periodisation really well, especially about what types of training should be prevalent at certain times during the season ... it's one opinion to consider.


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