Strength training for Cyclists

I remember 1996 as the year that my cycling took a major career hit when my left knee packed in.

Slight scoliosis resulted in pelvic rotation while sitting on the bike and left me with my left knee driving out to the left and right knee almost banging off the top tube! End story – bye bye cartilage in both knees and knee caps.

Whilst undergoing physio for the knees I had to keep moving to stop myself going crazy. I remember telling myself it was a huge gamble to start training with weights and risk getting heavier! I know, crazy mentality but atypical of most cyclists. Already I was a 69kg heavy cyclist (hard to avoid at 6ft 2!) and the thought of being heavier kind of scared me considering the climbs in some races. I wasn’t sure what else I could do to stay fit but I knew the resistance training would help me stay strong on the bike, whenever that was going to be again.

This ‘anti-weights training’ rational is a common thought most cyclists will agree to and along with taking time away from the bike, it’s a hard sell. But, timing the inclusion of strength training will benefit every cyclist. Let’s just list the benefits of including strength training pre and post racing reason (if you race) or as a weekly plan for recreational cyclists.


  1. A stronger body has better tolerance to fatigue
  2. Strength training will help resolve muscular imbalances in the limbs and torso
  3. A stronger midsection will reduce the likelihood of back pain on the bike
  4. A stronger body overall improves efficiency out of the saddle during sprints and climbs

Whilst it may be tempting to focus on squats and leg press etc for cyclists leg strength, there are better options that in turn present much lower risk of injury.

Fatigue is the cyclists greatest enemy on the bike, well, in addition to big hills, crazy drivers and mad dogs. Fatigue hits especially hard after short efforts, like hills, sprinting and tackling a headwind. During these higher efforts the muscles need to recruit as many motor units to get as much of the muscles working as possible. Strength training in its simplest form acts as neurological switch. Muscles won’t necessarily grow to become stronger, the brain learns to adapt to the stress of strength training by recruiting a greater number of muscle fibres per contraction – hopefully that read as simple as I see it!!

To bring upon this adaptation, frequent strength training should be practiced with sub maximum efforts with short sets of specific specific movements proven to help cyclists. The volume you’ll be glad to read, should also be low. We want adaptation but not at the expense of feeling battered and sore heading out on the bike. So a minimum effective dose is applied to acquire a beneficial outcome. Let’s round this off to two 20 – 30 minute weights sessions a week – not much you’ll agree.

In this post I want to share a few exercises that may form a starting point. They focus on tying together your bodies core – everything from shoulders to hips and I’ll include a great leg exercise. Why the focus on the core? Your core or let’s just refer to the torso, is the centre of what ties your body together. A strong torso will allow you to transfer more power throughout your body when needed. Imagine trying to sprint without use of the upper body and arms – pretty useless you’ll agree. The body works as a complete unit to deliver power to the pedals.

The following are of course just examples of what is included in a more complete program. These three movements don’t address individual weaknesses (impossible to do on a blog post!) so if concerned, just check out the videos for reference only.

Oh, and yes, after a year of weight training I came back so much stronger than before, and yep, the extra few kilos on my frame didn’t hinder anything…. go figure!

The Birddog


Rocking Push Ups


The Single Leg Deadlift  


A New Program for Cyclists 

This post and the previous are a brief glimpse into a new program for fellow cyclists that will be released this year.

I’ll be offering this as a 6 week program but for limited numbers of applicants as I want to offer a great service which can often be lost with large numbers of participants.

The program will provide more personalised routines that will develop great on the bike strengths whilst addressing personal weaknesses and limitations.

The program will include the best warm ups, recovery routines and of course the periodised strength plan. Each and every exercise will be taught with detail, not just following demonstrations. The plan can be personalised further by taking into consideration frequency and time available to the individual.

If you are interested in getting stronger as a cyclist and want to work on eliminating the frustrating aches and pains that maybe keep you off the bike from time to time, get in touch below. You can use this form too to get put onto the early registration list… no financial commitment is required at this time of course.

Oh, and wait, if you are not local to Albany Creek (Northern Brisbane suburb) I will also be putting together an online program will be nearly as good as the in-person program.

Interested? Send off the wee form below.

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