Cycling Conditioning

Allez Allez Allez!

The Tour de France has come to a close inspiring those keen cyclists amongst us to be crowned King or Queen of the Mountains in our own routes.  The impressive performances executed by the riders of the Tour as they seemingly breeze up a 15% incline beg the question of how they manage it.

Endurance cycling requires hours of saddle time, a large and efficient set of lungs and the strength and flexibility to cope with the demands of undulating roads and weather faced when we ride. We wanted to share a few hints and tips from the strength and flexibility perspective that we think are vital components for an efficicent cyclist.

Flexibility

Cycling requires spinal, hip and lower limb flexibility which can be achieved using self massage techniques and stretching. Glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and the upper back are key areas for flexibility to ensure you are in a comfortable position on the bike. Being mobile in these areas can also help to offload the lumbar spine and for those of us that have occasional niggly backs this is really important if we are going to be in the saddle for hours. For some ideas of how to improve flexibility in these key areas we have shared some video’s below:

Strength

Next up is strength which can be approached in a variety of ways.

Firstly we must consider that as endurance riders our muscles need to work for hours which means we need to condition them off the bike to reflect this. Doing 3 repetitions per set might sound like an easier option than 15-20 repetitions but it won’t train the muscle in the endurance capacity it needs. Ideally we should be doing 3-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions at 40-50% of our 1 rep of our maximum in order to build endurance or neuromuscular control.

Secondly we need to build strength and power. This involves lower repetitions (for strength) at a higher cadence (for power). Repetitions of 8-12 repetitions for 3-5 sets is a great way to build POWER at approximately 50-60% of our 1 rep of our maximum. If you wanted to build STRENGTH without the power your repetitions and sets would change to reflect this; 85% for 5 sets of 5 repetitions would build true strength.

Exercises that should be included are those that work on the gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf complex such as lunges, squats and step ups. The variations of these are vast from squatting off a step with a kettle bell to using a barbell and performing a front squat you can choose the variant that you feel challenges you the most. Lunges can be performed statically or in a walking format with dumbells in either or both hands or a barbell. The options are endless and the variants challenge the body is a multitude of ways!

We hope this gives you an insight into how to progress your flexibility and strength for cycling but if you’d like more information or guidance with the the use of our Wattbike in our Rehabilitation Clinic in Caversham don’t hesitate to get in touch!