If you want to be a good cyclist, handling any situation during riding easily, undoubtedly you need to acquire a lot of skills, including keeping your flexibility in a long-distance tour, shifting, braking, dealing with bad weather. But don’t forget the basic requirement-- you need to train for body force at first! Cycling requires a strong core for handling your bike, climbing and overall endurance. A cyclist’s legs can seem as the core and fundamental force, no matter how skillful you are, if your body can not handle the endurance, the tour won’t be as successful as you expected.
Ivan Basso, the two-time winner of the Giro d' Italia, well-known for his long-distance climbing. He said:“Preparing your legs in the gym is so important—it makes the biggest difference on the bike, I'm a big fan of TRX for total body training, but when I'm just focusing on my legs, I do leg curls to strengthen the back.”
We will give you some suggestions target your leg muscles in a cycling specific way, which can be divided into two categories-- gym workout and climbing practices.
To improve the endurance and do more with less effort, maintaining essential lean muscle and developing both of their strength and efficiency is definitively needed. There are three types of indoor exercise aim at improving leg strength.
According to the study by the Biomedical Sciences Department at the University of Ohio, heavy compound movements like deadlifts is one of the most efficient ways to both strengthen legs and improve joint integrity, hence reduce the risk of injury.
How to Do? Choose a bar that is more likely to fit you(normally 20kg) and place it as close to you as you can. Stand your feet with shoulder width apart. Bend at your hips and knees then grab the bar with an overhand grip. When you are keeping your arms straight, try to arch your lower back slightly and stand up slowly with the bar(don’t let your lower back round). pause and contract your glutes to raise the weight back to the starting pose. Repeat this three sets of 20.
Weighted box jumps
Do you know how ligament damage is caused? In fact, human’s ligaments are only called into action when there is an unpredictable force on the joint, such as a stumble or a fall. Usually, the muscles and tendons are not able to stabilize the joint and consequently the ligaments will be hurt. Weighted box jumps is a useful way to exert a quick force on the muscles with a sharp impact, by which enable muscles to be stronger and prevent ligament damage. Weighted box jumps can improve your leg muscle and give you increasing stabilization (through stronger tissue and faster response) and hence improve control when facing the uneven ground.
How to Do? Stand facing a 12- to 18-inch box or step. It can be simply found on an elevated platform(a box, bench or just anything stable). Hold a pair of dumbells. Then perform 5-10 jumps and swing your arms with the dumbells forward for momentum in. Repeat this for 5 sets then rest for 60 seconds.
Leg Press Machine
The leg-press machine is not common in a normal family and usually, you have to go to a gym to use it, but it has some benefits for the quads and glutes. Training with the leg-press machine is safer than using very heavy weights. When you are using heavy weights with a squat, most people’s back muscles become limiting before their leg muscles, therefore, you won’t be able to hold as much as you can lift. Also, it brings much risk to hurt your back fall down, or lose balance. However, leg-press machine or similar type of machine is a safer choice because the weights and your back are stabilized and you won’t lose balance.
How to Do? Follow the instruction on the machine and position yourself as it says. Put your feet on the platform with shoulder width apart then keep your back flat and abs engaged, release the levers attached to the weight plates and slowly leave the weight to come down. Now you can start moving: extend your legs(don’t lock out your knees) at the top of the press, pause and slowly bend your legs to the lower weight.
Intervals-- one of the most efficient and exhausted training method. Even the most training-obsessed cyclists treat it with awe, but its advantage is still attractive-- high fitness return in a comparatively short time investment, burning your fat, building up your muscles, improving endurance and enhancing your performance.
There are four simple training methods for you in practice. Remember, do it no more than twice a week, do the warm-up with easy pedaling for at least 15 minutes, and cool down if you need, don’t push yourself too hard considering your safety and health.
Repeat Surge With 40 Seconds Hard Pushing
Help you enhance your muscular endurance.
How to Do? Push hard for 40 seconds in a medium to large gear and recover 20 seconds. Repeat this process for 10 times as a set then rests for about 5 minutes. No more than 4 sets one time.
Climbing Practice With Stand-up and Sitting Postures
Strengthen your muscle and climb at the same time. This is gonna hurt, don’t forget to knead your legs muscle after training.
How to Do? Charge up on a moderate incline with stand-up posture as fast as you can for 30 seconds then coast back to your starting point. Repeat this process seated. Alternate between standing and sitting for six climbs s a set and recover 10 minutes.
This method can improve your pedaling efficiency by developing a fluid and efficient cadence.
How to Do? Pedal as hard as possible for 10 seconds in 90 to 110 rpm in a gear, then spin easy for 20 seconds. Repeat this process for 10 to 15 minutes as a set. Rest for 5 minutes before another set.
Introduced by Japanese exercise scientist Izumi Tabata. It can help you find out how to use more muscle and increase the intensity over a 60-minutes trial, which corresponds to your lactate threshold.
How to Do? Sprint as hard as you can for 20 seconds and coast for 10 seconds. Repeat this six to eight times as a set.
Finally, do remember that get strong legs, not big legs. Strong leg doesn’t mean bulky bodybuilder-quested legs that hinder your cycling performance.