Posted on June 10, 2020 by Jenny Cromack

This week is Cycling UK’s ‘Bike Week 2020’, so we thought we would share our top strength exercises for cycling. A recent survey by Sports England which looked at people’s attitudes towards exercise & activity during ‘lockdown’, found that over a period of 7 weeks the number of people cycling in the UK doubled from 8% to 16%.

Like any form of cardiovascular exercise, our efficiency, stamina and performance will improve more greatly if we include some strength training into our weekly training regime. As personal trainers we see our clients performances improve so much when they include 1-2 weekly strength sessions, but don’t just take our word for it here is a workout focusing on strength exercises for cycling to help you to become stronger when you’re out on the road.

I’m writing this whilst we are still in lockdown and gyms are not open, so I’ve focused on using dumbbells and kettlebells. But if you’re lucky enough to have a barbell then substitute where you can.

Warm Up

Remember to start each session with a warm-up, we’d suggest performing two circuits of the following:

Body Weight Squats x 12

Reverse Lunges x 8 each leg

Walk Outs x 5

Spider Man Stretch x 5 each side.

Main Workout

We’re going to perform the exercises as supersets, so two exercises back to back with around 30 seconds between exercises. If you’re new to strength training start off with 2 sets and as your fitness improves increase to 3-4 sets. Once you have completed your number of sets, rest x 1-2 minutes then move on to the next superset.

1a. Dumbbell or Kettlebell Front Squat x 8-12 reps 

1b. Dumbbell or Kettlebell Single Leg Deadlift x 8-12 reps

The front squat is great for strengthening the quads, hamstrings and glutes which are used throughout cycling. Strengthening these areas will make you strong on the hills. Focusing on using single leg moves, such as the deadlift, will help with muscle imbalances. If you’re new to deadlift then start with a regular deadlift and build your way up to a single leg deadlift.

2a. Dumbbell Lunges x 10 reps each leg

2b. Glute Bridges x 10-12 reps

Lunges are great for cycling as you work one leg at a time (just like you do when you’re cycling!) . Great for hitting your quads, hamstrings, hips and glutes. We’ve paired this with glute bridges to give your glutes a direct hit! If you spend a lot of time sitting then your glutes often become lazy and don’t ‘fire up’. This almost sounds daft, since you mainly sit down when you cycle but lazy glutes are a no-no for cycling. Your glutes help to power your pedal stroke so we need to make sure your glutes are strong and activated.

3a. Dumbbell or Kettlebell 1 Arm Row x 12 reps each side.

3b. Plank – hold for 30-60 seconds.

The upper back can often become fatigued and painful, especially when out on long bike rides especially if you’re new to cycling. Including 1 arm rows in your training will help to strengthen the muscles in your upper back and combat pain and fatigue. Cyclists also need a strong core to protect their lower back and assist with their posture whilst on the bike, so we’ve gone for a good old fashioned plank to strengthen this area.

Cool Down

Finish with some static stretches focused on the quads, hamstrings, glutes and upper back. Holding each stretch for around 15 seconds.

This is a simple but effective training plan of strength exercises for cycling. Incorporate this into your training at least two times per week and reap the rewards on the road!