Topics: Weight training, Specific sprint training, Optimising your warm-up, Out-turned foot issues
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My question is in regard to weight training for cyclists. Firstly is it beneficial for cyclists, more specifically sprinters? Secondly, which muscles should be targeted, any upper body? And thirdly how many reps and how should they be preformed for explosive strength? Finally which part of the year should I be engaging in weight training and can a day at the gym replace a day riding?
Thanks for the advice,
Scott Saifer says:
Yes, weight training is beneficial for cyclists, especially for sprinters. Target the power muscles (glutes, calves, hams, quads), the core muscles and the muscles of the upper body that you use when you sprint. Emphasize multi-joint exercises that require you to use small muscles for posture and coordination over machines that isolate particular muscles.
Start your strength training when you start your off-season training. Two or three days per week is appropriate for road cyclists. Track sprinters will do more. Start with short sets and trivially light weights for a week or two while you learn the motions and then build up. Adjust to lifting with four weeks or so of lifting that feels challenging but not hard. Then make it hard by extending sets and adding weight. Make all changes gradually. The exact design of the program is not so important as the philosophy of starting with plenty of anatomic adaptation time and then building up gradually. It's not unreasonable to be working towards sets of 50 or more reps on the power muscles.
I suggest riding at least 40 minutes on at least two of the lifting days if your schedule allows.
Weights and sprinting
Thanks for all the advice, but I was hoping that you could clarify a few thing. Firstly, which upper body muscles are used when sprinting; back, biceps, triceps, chest? And secondly, should I continue weight training throughout the racing season?
Scott Saifer says:
To sprint effectively you need to be able to stabilize the pelvis against the huge forces you'll be developing below the waist. To do that, you need to be able to anchor yourself to the bars and make your chest and abdomen a nearly motionless platform. That means you need to be strong in the biceps and triceps and all the muscles of the trunk.
What to do about tapering depends on whether you are focused on a few races or trying to be strong for a few particular races. If you are a typical roadie who wants to be strong for an extended block of races, taper to one day per week of relatively light lifting a few weeks before those races start. If you are focused on one particular race, lift hard into the racing season, but quit weights entirely about six weeks before you main event.
Optimising your warm-up
To this layman, the exercise physiology texts seem to suggest that you reach an aerobic steady state within a few minutes of commencing endurance exercise. However, it takes me about 50 minutes to feel comfortable at my maximum sustainable output, and even as much as two hours to feel really great. What's going on in the interim, assuming I'm typical? Is there a way to expedite this warm-up period? If you must stop riding, such as before a TT, how long will a warm-up "last?" Thanks, great feature of the site.
Scott Saifer says:
There are many processes we know about going on during warm up, and probably some that we don't. At the least, body temperature is rising, blood vessels are dilating in muscles and constricting in the kidneys and gut, fatty acids are being released at increasing rates from fat tissue for use as fuel in muscles, and levels of various hormones are rising or falling.
As fitness level increases, warm up generally takes longer. It's not clear whether this is because more experienced riders are more sensitive to their being not entirely warmed up, or maybe the experienced rider body in some sense doesn't take the ride seriously until it's been going on a for a while. In any case, it's common for experienced riders to need 45 minutes or longer to feel completely warmed up. I recommend a standard 1-hour warm up for all racers except in hot weather or for races that will certainly start slowly.
I don't know of any way to speed up the warm up. There are rubs that promise to speed up warm up, but the real research on them says that are placebos at best.
Being fatigued will slow warm up, or at least delay the moment of feeling good, so if you seem to need much longer to warm up than other riders do, you might benefit from an examination of your overall work-rest balance.
Out turned foot
I'm recovering slowly from a comminuted right hip fracture. I had surgery in Spain but it had to be revised back home because it was not done well. The first operation left my leg about 3 cm short and in varus (angled medially). The second procedure fixed these problems but the leg is externally rotated by 15 - 20 degrees. I am a month or two before I'll be able to use a wind trainer and the road is further away.
I use Shimano pedals with floating cleats. I expect the cleat will hold my leg in an internally rotated position and stop my heal contacting the chain stay. That would not be good for my knee at least and I can't imagine it would be a comfortable or powerful position. What are my options?
Scott Saifer says:
Steve may have more for you on this, but I'll jump in and say that if you adjust your cleat to keep your heel from rubbing the crank, you'll probably end up toasting your knee. Better you should get some pedal axle extenders so you can let your foot take it's new neutral angle. Good luck.