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Whole-Body Strength Training for Cyclists

Whole-Body Strength Training for Cyclists

As a cyclist, you’re constantly joking about only needing “legs and lungs”. The goal of a cyclist is to be as light as possible, with the highest amount of power to weight ratio coming from the legs, pushing into the pedals. That is why there are plenty of memes out there of cyclists with stick thin arms and torso, but with massive quads and hamstrings, and titles such as “Don’t miss leg day!”. Jokes aside, imbalances such as these can have a potentially detrimental effect on your long-term health. Strength training for cyclists is key for injury prevention and performance.

As cycling is a relatively low weight-bearing sport, it is beneficial for cyclists to engage in additional loaded strength training to address a variety of issues from bone density to muscular balance. Obviously, strength demands differ between cyclists – a road cyclist, track cyclist, mountain biker or BMX rider will all have very different needs, but the tips I share below can be used a general guideline, across all types of cycling.

 

 

Strength training for cyclists are a great addition to your training routine

Strength and conditioning programs should be kept as simple as possible. As often is the case, it is the simple stuff that works best and has stood the test of time.  The programs I recommend to a lot of my patients, typically contain the exercises below.

Sample workout
Compound Push (Knee Dominant) Back Squat/ Goblet Squat
Upper Body Push (Horizontal) Dumbbell Chest Press, Bench Press
Upper Body Pull (Horizontal) Bent over rows, Seated rows
Compound Pull Offset/Single Legged (Hip Dominant) Offset Romanian Deadlift, Offset Trap Bar Deadlift
Trunk Stability (Anti Rotation) Pallof Press, Plank + KB drags
*One of the Compound movements needs to be single legged or offset Work in 3 sets of 5-8 repetition with 2 RIR (Reps in Reserve)

By utilising a full body routine such as this, all the major components of the body will be covered, and even if a session is missed, you’ll know you are always covering the full body in each session. Optimally, you would want to engage this routine two times a week for adequate loading-for-strength benefits.

Compound movements are multi-joint movements which utilise multiple groups of muscles at the same time. Utilising a multi-joint movement under adequate weight helps to develop the ability to generate force through those joints. For a cyclist, the ability to generate better force in the hips and knees, coupled with bike specific training, may lead to an increase in power production.

I also added a note in the table to ensure one of the hip or knee dominant exercise needs to be either single legged or offset. Single leg/offset work is often underutilised, but is a very effective tool for stability. It also assists with restoring any imbalances you may have developed over the years, either through injuries or poor habits. I recommend that single-sided work be done towards the back end of the exercise session, as you would not often use as heavy weight. What’s more, doing single-sided work with a bit of fatigue from all the previous work sets will really challenge ones stability under appropriate weight.

The Importance of Upper Body Strength for Cyclists

For a cyclist, upper body work is not hugely important from a max strength or bulk point of view, however having good muscle tone in the upper body musculature is important for general well-being in everyday life. You don’t want to be “that” cyclist who is strong in the legs but weak with poor tone in the upper body, “that” cyclist who injures the neck or shoulder lifting a bag of groceries. Dependent on what field of cycling, some streams like track cycling and BMX may require a bit more upper body bulk and strength compared to road cycling and mountain biking.

Don’t forget to switch it up!

For a bit of variation in your workouts, you can alternate your sessions by switching the compound hip/knee dominant work around so you can focus the heavier work on the other compound exercises whilst offset/single leg work on the other. This will create a nice balance in loading for different movement patterns. I would try to do the heavy and double legged compound work at the start of the session and do the single leg or offset compound movements towards the mid or latter end of the session. Also for upper body work you can switch between horizontal movements like bench press and bent over rows with vertical upper body movements like overhead dumbbell press and lat pull down. See example in the table below.

Sample Variation
Compound Pull (Hip Dominant) Traditional deadlift, Trap-bar Deadlift
Upper Body Push (Vertical) Dumbbell Overhead Shoulder Press, Barbell overhead press
Upper Body Pull (Vertical) Lat Pull Down, Chin Ups
Compound Press Offset/Single legged (Knee Dominant) Bulgarian Split Squat, Lunges
Trunk Stability (Rotation) Woodchop, Medicine ball trunk rotations
*One of the Compound movements needs to be single legged or offset *Work in 3 sets of 5-8 repetition with 2 RIR (Reps in Reserve)

Hopefully what I have covered here about strength training for cyclists will be helpful as a starting point for a simple strength and conditioning program. As always, check in with your strength and conditioning focused allied health professional to determine if these recommendations are suitable for you.

The best advice I can give is, keep it simple and sustainable. The session need not be super long in duration – aim for 30-45 minutes to be done with your program. Over time, as you develop more experience and build up a repertoire of exercises you are familiar with, in each of the categories, you will be able to interchange exercises that are similar in each category to keep your work out fresh and engaging.

 

As with undertaking any new program or form of exercise, if you have any medical concerns, please check with your doctor. Or, should you need some tailored advice for strength training for cyclists – come see us here at PhysioTec.
Eric Huang is a qualified physiotherapist who specialises in cycling related pain and injuries. He has a passion for all things cycling, is a competitive cyclist himself, and runs his own cycling crew. Call 3342 4284 to book an appointment with Eric.

 

References:

Nicols JF, Palmer JE, Levy SS (2003) Low bone mineral density in highly trained male master cyclists. Osteoporos Int. 14:644-649

Rønnestad, B.R., Hansen, E.A. & Raastad, T. In-season strength maintenance training increases well-trained cyclists’ performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 110, 1269–1282 (2010)

Westcott, Wayne L. PhD. Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Current Sports Medicine Reports: July/August 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 4 – p 209-216

Louis, J., Hausswirth, C., Easthope, C. et al. Strength training improves cycling efficiency in master endurance athletes. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 112, 631–640 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-2013-1

 

Physiotec Updates

Physiotec Updates

END OF YEAR ROUNDUP!

2015 in Review

2015 was a year of exciting change and growth for Physiotec. The clinic expanded physically, new staff came on board, our technology advanced, our physiotherapists further expanded their already high level of knowledge and we reached out to the community with involvement in sporting events, teaching locally and abroad and with social media.

The clinic expanded upstairs this year providing another large gym space, two more treatment rooms, a second waiting area, a meeting/teaching space for our staff and a second office. We have also taken on board a Patient Liaison Coordinator, Toni Corta. You may have heard from Toni who is responsible for helping track the progress of our patients with the aim of providing the best quality service possible. We pride ourselves on providing treatment that is up to date and informed by cutting edge scientific evidence. The information Toni collects will further help us determine which treatments provide the best outcomes in our patient population. Better outcomes achieved more rapidly for our clients continues to be our primary focus.

We also invest in technologies that can help us achieve this goal. Physiotec invested in an additional real time ultrasound machine used for muscle and tendon assessment, rehabilitation and biofeedback. Our ViMove system (wireless accelerometers for assessing movement) has undergone considerable advances with new programmes to assess and improve ‘core control’ and neck movement as well as advances in the knee and running modules. Our second gym has been equipped with a new reformer with a tower attachment and we also added a ladder barrel allowing a host of new exercise challenges. A spine corrector, two TWS sliders, a ballet bar, balance equipment, band stations, a weights station and much more can also be found in our new exercise area.

pilates gym new

Our physiotherapists are passionate about continually increasing their expertise. Our staff have been involved as treating physiotherapists in university research trials and have attended national Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine conferences and many workshops and lectures on topics such as Hip Pain, Hamstring Injuries, Bone Health, Women’s & Men’s Health (pelvic pain and pelvic floor function), Hypermobility, Dance Medicine, Running Injuries & Rehabilitation and Tendon Pain & Rehabilitation.

Our principal physiotherapist, Dr Alison Grimaldi has also contributed to the knowledge of other physiotherapists and health professionals in Australia and overseas through multiple presentations at the recent Australian Physiotherapy Association Biennial Conference at the Gold Coast and lectures and workshops presented at Pure Sports Medicine(London), PhysioUK (London), Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine, William Harvey Research Institute (London), Neath Port Talbot Hospital (Wales, UK), the Sports Surgery Clinic (Dublin, UK) and the Australian Institute of Sport (Canberra).

Dublin lecture 2

Sports Surgery Clinic, Dublin

Alison also presented weekend courses for physiotherapists in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. She has continued her research involvement into management of gluteal tendon pain and hip joint pain through the University of Queensland and University of Melbourne and has co-authored three papers in peer reviewed scientific journals such as Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical TherapyMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise and Sports Medicine Journal.

Physiotec has been more connected to the world in 2015, with increased activity on Twitter and Facebook. We aim to help keep our followers up to date with the latest research in physiotherapy by providing information on useful links, blogs and tips on injury prevention.  Not only are we active on social media, but we also launched a new and easy to navigate website where you can browse our services, get to know the staff, and read more news in physiotherapy. Here is link to our new website: Physiotec

As part of our goal to get our clients more fit and active throughout their recovery, Physiotec staff and patients participated in the International Women’s Day Fun Run which raises money for Breast Cancer.

international women's day

We have also worked hard to help our patients to achieve their own activity and work related goals. Staff physiotherapist, Eric Huang, who is the founder of Brisbane-based cycling group M.I.A, helped some of our clients earn cycling medals while managing to gain podium placings himself.

MIA

mia podium eric

We have helped clients achieve lifelong goals of overseas travel and returning to work after years of disability, but it is often the everyday things that have the most impact – walking upstairs painfree for the first time in months, being able to attend family or social gatherings, achieving a good night’s sleep. We always love to see our clients overcome their difficulties and reach their personal goals.

What’s up in 2016?

In this coming year, our physiotherapists will be attending conferences and courses around the world. Alison will be attending the Low Back & Pelvic Pain Congress in Singapore and lecturing and presenting at the International Federation of Orthopaedic Manipulative Physical Therapists in Glasgow, UK. She will also be teaching in London, Wales, Ireland, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand, as well as her regular Australian courses. Sharon will be attending the First International Ehler-Dhanlos and Hypermobility symposium in the USA. Kirsty, will once again be working with elite tennis players at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Eric will be continuing to further his knowledge and performance in all things cycling. Megan will be furthering her expertise in Women’s Health and Tony & Louise will be sharing their knowledge with some part time tutoring at the University of Queensland.

We will also be joined by visiting psychologist, Carolyn Uhlmann, who has a focus on providing support for patients coping with acute and chronic pain, chronic illness or caring for a loved one with health problems. She can also assist those who are learning to adjust and cope with changes in health, medical events, mobility and independence.

With the new staff members, new gym, new Pilates programs, running assessments and spinal assessments, you can expect that we will be offering more at Physiotec as we continue to grow.