Cyclists and long-distance runners are a skinny lot. They shy away from muscle mass because every pound they carry requires more power to move. Their sports require endurance, not brute strength. But all of us must do strength building exercises if we want to perform at our best. A stronger muscle will be able to perform longer without fatigue. The question is, how do I build strength without bulking up. The key is to use volume (number of reps) to develop strength not mass.
According to “Maximum Performance for Cyclists” by Michael J. Ross, M.D., the number of repetitions (reps) and the weight used depends on the effect you are trying to achieve. Between 2-6 reps you are building strength, 8-12 reps builds muscle (hypertrophy), and 15-20 reps builds muscular endurance. This is assuming that the weight used is the maximum you can lift for the number of reps performed. For cyclists and runners, building strength is the key to improving performance without building large muscle mass.
Strength gains can be achieved by doing sport-specific weight lifting 3 times a week. By “sport-specific” we mean that the resistance training should mimic the movements involved in the sport you compete in. For example, cyclists should perform squats or leg presses with their feet parallel and the same distance apart as on the bike pedals. These movements can also be “velocity-specific,” that is, done at a speed similar to the movement on the bike to help develop fast-twitch muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscles are what you need to sprint and climb those hills.
The progression of your weight training should be muscle building, then strength building, then finally endurance. Start by doing muscle-building (8-12 reps) resistance work for up to 6 weeks to build muscle without building too much muscle mass, then progress to strength building (2-6 reps). If you do 2-6 reps, 3 times a week, using the max resistance that the muscle can handle, in 3-4 weeks you will see significant improvement in strength without bulking up. Once you have done the strength building phase, endurance workouts are best done on the bike or running.
The end result will be better performance! Good Luck.
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Don’t care to take a class, no problem! Enjoy our blog, with its helpful tips, experiences and practical advice for active people of all ages.
Good advice for all runners and cyclists:
Your Guide to Cycling Stretches courtesy of Active.com
Stretching will make you faster, but only if you do it right and at the right time.
Do not stretch when your muscles are cold like they used to do years ago, this can cause micro-tears and damage that slows you down.
Do stretch after warming up and especially when you are done with your workout. Don’t sit on the couch, get on the floor and stretch!
There are several other great pointers in the articles referenced above. Something we all should pay attention to!
On April 3rd, the MHBC started up their Tuesday night rides out of Rhinebeck. Since Glen is the ride coordinator I figured I’d join them. This was a No-drop Class B ride. The no-drop aspect was appealing, but the Class B part was going to be a stretch for me. I hadn’t ridden Ruby (my Specialized road bike) since last September. But I thought some of the running and bootcamp I’ve been doing would serve me well in the transition to the bike.
The plan was to cover about 25 relatively flat miles. I cranked out 17.5 with an average speed (not adjusted for short intersection stops) of 13.8 mph.
The transition was harder than I thought, but the good news is that it reminded me of how beneficial it can be to cross train. This change-up in my routine will introduce new demands on the body – which is a good thing!
Even though I ended the ride early, according to my 2011 riding log, I actually did pretty well. Most of my rides had only been 7–20 miles. While the 5 organized challenges I did, like Ride the Ridge and LiveStrong Philly, pushed me to the greater distances. So not a bad start for early April!
I’m looking forward to the warmer weather and training with Ruby again. I’ll keep you posted on my progress toward becoming a “solid” Class B rider.
5AM rolled around quickly this morning, but who could sleep with my first criterium just 3 hours away! That’s right, I was headed to Bethel CT to watch Glen compete in his second crit. (You actually thought for a moment that I was going to do this?)
It was a pretty day. Pretty darn cold that is, with freezing temps and of course, wind. I watched all the Category 5 riders complete the mandatory training session and take their warm up laps while I fumbled around mounting my cheap point-n-shoot camera on a what my son tells me is a very expensive tripod. That tripod must be impressive because a nice man asked me if my photos would be for sale. I chuckled of course, and we had a nice chat. Turns out he and his 15 yr. old son ride for Pawling. His son was in the Cat 5 and he was riding in Cat 4. Anyway, with my position secured on the outside of the first turn, I was ready to capture the action as riders crowned the hill with every lap. Well actually, I was ready, but the camera required two reboots in the form of popping the battery. (Now I know why Kodak isn’t making cameras anymore.) I knew better than to attempt any single shots, so my plan was to let the video run until the race was over or the battery quit, whichever came first. The good news is, I got the first 10 laps. Unfortunately, the last 5 laps were only recorded in my head, and we all know that is only temporary storage. Once I figure out how to edit the video, I’ll share that.
Actually, a criterium is pretty impressive. In Cat 5 they do 15 laps around a closed road course that is just shy of 1 mile. The start at Bethel is uphill, (isn’t that just mean?) and goes immediately into the first turn. So the start is not exactly fast, though they were all cranking faster than I can do on the flats, but once they get moving you can see the speed build with each lap and watch the pack of riders – actually called a peloton – shape shift like a swarm of bees. It just amazes me how these cyclists can ride wheel to wheel and practice a technique called bumping – without wiping out. At this level, they’re riding between 20- 25 mph. You’ll see 30-35mph in higher categories! Crazy! And Glen, despite covering 35 miles of nonstop hills in New Jersey yesterday, beat last Sunday’s performance! Woot woot!
I’m looking forward to the rest of the series… on hopefully warmer days. And who knows. Maybe you’ll find me at a criterium one weekend, doing more than just taking pictures. 🙂