Updated 24th October 2017 – Video: More Power For Cyclists.
Cathal Moynihan and myself have been discussing this for a while. I had concerns that some cyclists were spending too high a percentage of their available training time on core strength training. So, we set out to design a programme to maximise fitness benefits and time management for the busy cyclist.
Cathal has risen to the challenge and produced a brilliant video with spectacular Kerry scenery included. It’s a fantastic opportunity to benefit from Cathal’s background in strength and conditioning as a top class Olympian in Rowing and a successful cyclist.
Watch the video below then read on down this post as we take you through where and how to focus your strength and conditioning training.
More Power for 2018 – from Cathal Moynihan
It’s that time of year again. The road racing season has died off, leaving a void in the roadie’s life. After a sustained period of gorging on pizza and beer, the cyclist’s mind invariably switches to next season.
Naturally, the next question is ‘How will I be better next season?’ The classic answers include ‘more miles’, ‘more intensity’, ‘new coach’, ‘new club’, ‘a power meter’, ‘new turbo’, ‘new bike’, ‘new wheels’ and so on. There is no doubt that any and all of the previously mentioned ideas will likely enhance performance, but with the obvious answers aside, how else could you improve your cycling performance?
Strength training is frequently overlooked and dismissed by the cycling community. Most athletes and coaches associate strength training with developing muscular physiques and therefore assume strength training would not be beneficial to endurance sports, where power to weight ratio is of the utmost importance.
However, with advancing strength and conditioning techniques along with good coaching principles, athletes can and should be benefiting from sport-specific functional strength programmes. Even with proven benefits of increases in lactate threshold, anaerobic power, pedalling efficiency and bone density, many cyclists are still reluctant to add strength training to their training routine.
Along with weight gain, other reasons include lack of time and disliking training inside. Then there are also those that simply just don’t know where to start. It is for these reasons that my coach Paddy Doran at Peak Endurance Coaching contacted me for assistance.
With Paddy knowing my S&C qualifications along with my background in endurance sports, he asked me to help athletes by outlining how to strategically develop a periodised cycling-specific strength program. Paddy also wanted to ensure the program could be performed at home with very little equipment required.
The traditional cyclist’s strength training approach is 3-4 sets of 10-12 reps with little or no variation in exercises, and only the load increasing until a plateau is reached.
It’s akin to asking a coach how to develop peak cycling ‘form’ and he/she replying by saying ‘zone 3 training and just keep doing more of it’.
As most know, to develop peak cycling form a mix of strategically organised endurance rides along with aerobic and anaerobic intervals is required. Strength development and ultimately on-bike power development requires a similar timely approach through varying exercises, load, speed of movement, and adaptation period (rest).
As shown below the season can be divided into 3 parts: pre-season, season, and off-season. This example is laid out for a May/June peak and can be adapted by shifting the start position. All sub-phases within the season have a specific focus. As we enter each phase a more in-depth detail will be outlined.
|Phase||Anatomical Adaptation & Stabilization||Strength||Power||Maintenance (Mix of off/on bike strength)||Transition & Relaxation|
|Focus||Opportunity to develop weak areas not addressed by cycling. Sessions: 2/week||Volume and weights increase. Pushes force curve upwards Sessions: 2/week||Intensity increases. Speed of contraction is key. Weights load decreases Sessions: 2/week||Focus switches to performance on bike. Short accelerations from low speed or standing starts will help maintain speed of contraction. Maintain home exercises and look for breaks in racing programme to re-visit strength training Sessions: 1/week complemented with bike work||Recuperation Sessions: NA|
All sport-specific strength programs should focus on the prime-movers involved within that sport. In cycling the lower-body muscle groups create the force applied to the pedals. This ‘power zone’ consists of the quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower-back, and abdominal muscles.
A strong upper body is also important for effective power transfer, bike control, and injury prevention. Through the timely introduction of specific stabilisation exercises followed by strength exercises using greater load at low reps (<5), building unnecessary bulk can be avoided. Exercise selection for the prime movers of cycling should be based upon the squat, lunge and hip-hinge movement patterns.
Patience is required while the basics of these movement patterns are mastered for a program to be effective. Once the basics are mastered progressions on load can be introduced.
Check out the video we’ve put together above, a 15 Minute Core exercise routine to get you started. In the next few weeks we hope to develop some more short coaching videos to help people properly develop their squat, lunge and hip-hinge movement patterns prior to getting stuck into the 1st stabilisation phase of the strength program.
You can follow our S&C updates at Peak Endurance Coaching or Subscribe to my YouTube Channel Cruising With Cathal, or check out Cycling Coaching Packages from Paddy Doran of Peak Endurance Coaching by clicking here.