Winter time training is the secret to summer time improvements. Time spent building strength and condition now and learning how to counteract physical imbalances rewards with greater enjoyment, comfort and performance benefits when spring and summer come around again.
Injury prevention is another key factor to focus upon. To learn how to counteract physical difficulties that can be caused by any misalignment or imbalances, Gerard Hartmann and I are running a number of one day bespoke cycling workshops that will be hugely beneficial to anyone looking to improve their alignment on the bike and prevent injury, amongst many other practical insights. More details can be found here
Also, D.J. O’Dwyer of Heartsave in Clonmel, is running strength and conditioning classes specifically for cyclists 2 nights per week and has put together this very informative piece for readers of the blog who may be interested in finding out more about the benefits of strength and conditioning training :
Strength and Conditioning for Cyclists in the Off Season, Why do it?
At this time of year the bike is being used less and less and it is a good time to consider the benefits of a well structured strength and conditioning program to increase the strength in your legs so that you can put more power through the pedals but also to help to reduce the likelihood of injury next year.
I have noticed over the years in dealing with athletes that not a lot of them are “functionally fit”. This basically means that athletes lack mobility around the shoulder, hip and knee joints and they are not using the correct muscles when performing their sport. Now there is no doubt that you can cycle a bike and your cardiovascular fitness is very good but are you actually using the right muscles while competing in your sport?
Probably the most important muscle we have for sport is the Gluteal muscle otherwise known as “your butt” The glute muscle is supposed to be responsible for your lower body movement such as cycling or running but unfortunately for most athletes the glute muscle does not work and the stabilising muscles for the Glute, the quads, hamstrings, lower back, core are doing the work of the prime worker. When these stabilising muscles are doing all the hard work it is leaving you open to injury as they are not designed to work this hard. Exercises such as the Bridge, Lunge and Squat all work to strengthen the Glute muscle. ￼
Have a look at the 100m runner, the fastest men and women in the world, they have one thing in common, “a big butt”. Before we go further I am not saying you need a big rear end to compete better but you do need a glute muscle to be firing on all cylinders.
A good conditioning program should strengthen your weak muscles, lengthen your strong muscles and incorporate exercises for the quads, hamstrings, calfs, tibialis anterior and of course gluteal muscles, all of which are used when cycling a bike. However we should also not forget the upper body, the trunk, shoulders, arms and hands which provide a firm base from which leg muscles can provide power.
As with all strength and conditioning programs technique is everything. You might be able to squat 100kg but can you do it without doing damage to your back?? When performing a strength and conditioning program consider light weights to start off with and do 12 reps to 15 reps of each exercise. Do two sets on week one three sets on week two and build up progressively.
As you move on you will be able to progress to more specific exercises such as lunge with dumbbells, squats, shoulder press, bridge and plank and when you are able to do these you can progress to the hang clean and other power generating exercises. ￼
Don’t be in a rush! Start light, keep your technique and when your body is ready then you can move forward.
Do not underestimate the necessity for Stretching either. Your muscles get shorter as a result of exercising and you need to keep them long and flexible which will prevent injury and will also help generate more power.
Think of a car engine that is regularly serviced, it runs smoothly and more efficiently, the body is similar it needs to be stretched, strengthened, fed properly, hydrated properly, trained properly and it will respond with good performance.
If you are interested in Strength and Conditioning classes for Cycling they are starting on Monday 10th of November at Heartwise Clonmel. Timetable of classes is below and it will require attending twice a week. Places are already filling up so if you are interested call 086 2422388 for more information.
Classes are being designed by D.J. O Dwyer. D.J. has 5 years of strength and conditioning experience with both Munster Rugby and Tipperary County Football and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning for sport coach.