Last week, with regards to strength and conditioning we talked about the basics, this week it’s time to talk advanced.
We will cover advanced plyometrics, single leg movements, and why increasing the load on exercises like the back squat is important for cyclists.
Plyometrics have a reputation in gyms as being class-based exercises, but in reality they are from that. Plyometric movements are designed to be fast paced, explosive movements like jumping, hopping, dropping, and reacting.
This can include exercises like box jumps, hurdle hops, single leg jumps, and bounds. I like to include plyometric work into all programmes I write as they are great at elevating heart rate, and developing fast paced movement in athletes. They are very useful for when you have to burst into a sprint, or put the power down instantly to get up a tricky section of a climb. They are also good for maintaining speed and getting out of the saddle.
Not to mention that they build up a resistance to impact injury.
Here are my top three plyometric exercises for advanced athletes:
- Hurdle bounds/single leg hurdle bounds.
- Hurdle bounds to box jump.
- Lateral hop.
Adding these into your programme, when done correctly, are fantastic movements and will develop power, stability, and resistance to impact.
I would always recommend using a coach for plyometric movement.
Single leg movements
The importance of single leg movements in cycling is huge. When you think about the actual mechanics of pedalling a bicycle, we use one leg after the other. Even though we are connected to the bike, and both legs move at the same time, we are essentially pushing with one and, if clipped in, pulling with the other. This is a subconscious ambidextrous movement and. working on this in the gym. will go a long way to improving your performance on the bike.
Single leg work develops stability, which is as helpful for off road cyclist as much as on road bike riders, as it allows us to adapt to changes in terrain, jumps, and drops.
It also develops co-ordination which is essential for reading the road/trail ahead of you.
I would 100% focus on single leg work when training cyclists and here is my top 3:
- Pistol squat.
- DB single leg deadlift.
- Lateral sidestep (onto a box).
All of these movements develop stability in the legs and the core, as well as strength and the ability to control your body weight under stressful situations like trail terrain changing, or potholes.
Increasing the load on compound lifts
Increasing the load on compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses, is essential for cycling. They will help with developing more efficient power, strength on the climbs, and staying comfortable on the bike.
Do not get caught in the fear that lifting heavy will make you look like a bodybuilder and gain weight; this is all down to the food you eat and training in a COMPLETELY different way.
I would never take compound strength training out of an athlete’s programme as it is an ESSENTIAL component for ANY sport. I would, however, be sensible about how I include strength training into an athlete’s plan, so they do not feel like they are getting bulky.
Combining strength work with plyometrics and movement based functional work like single leg movements is a strong method for developing an athletes performance on the bike, while also developing a physique that can move better, adapt to conditions better, and, above all, become faster!
My top four compound movements are:
- Back squat/front squat.
- Bench press.
- Pull up.
There you have it! This covers three advanced methods of developing athletic performance for cycling.
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About The Author: Adam Copley
Adam is a self-employed coach based in Sheffield, UK. Alongside this he is an avid cyclist and competes in cross country mountain biking across the UK. He has raced Cyclocross during the winter and is also a huge lover of road cycling. While he's not working on his business, he is usually out on two wheels getting fitter, and enjoying the fresh air and many climbs in the peak district.