Workout for cyclists: 7 strength training exercises

Get stronger in the saddle by doing off-the-bike training to improve your performance and balance. Try this strength training workout, designed specifically for cyclists…

Looking for a strength training workout created specifically for cyclists? Look no further. Whether you are a seasoned endurance athlete or new to cycling, building cycling-specific strength should be an integral part of your plan. Why? Because it increases the strength and stability you need to apply a greater force to the pedals and cope with the demands of your training. This will ultimately lead to improved performance and help mitigate against injury.

So, how should you approach your off-the-bike strength training? The following strength workout, created by Wattbike Master Trainer Chris Stanton, targets the key muscle groups required for cycling – quads, glutes and calves – as they help generate power. Subsidiary exercises for the upper body will help you become a stronger rider, as your upper body and shoulders fatigue more rapidly whilst climbing. Ready? Let’s get started…

Strength Workout for Cyclists

Dumbbell split lunge demonstration in workout for cyclists

Dumbbell split lunge

The first exercise in this strength workout for cyclists will benefit the drive phase of the pedal stroke, and lateral stability from the ankle to the hip

Reps: 12 (each side)
Sets: 4-6

  • Start in a standing position with the right foot in front of you, left leg behind and both feet pointing forwards. Hold a dumbbell in each hand (A).
  • Bend down into a lunge position, with your front leg bent at a 90-degree angle and back knee nearly touching the ground (B).
  • Push through both legs and to rise up. That’s one rep. Repeat 12 times, then switch legs.

kettlebell goblet squat demonstration woman demonstrates goblet squat in strength workout for runners

Kettlebell Goblet squat

This will develop strength from the feet to the hips

Reps: 20
Sets: 3-5

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell in front of your chest with elbows pointing toward the floor (A).
  • Keep your weight through your heels as you squat down, inhaling as you descend (B).
  • Exhale as you rise back up, then repeat.

kettlebell single leg deadlift demonstration woman demonstrates single leg deadlift with kettlebell workout for cyclists

Kettlebell Single-leg Deadlift

This will develop single leg stability and mobility, with the addition of hamstring functionality

Reps: 10 (each leg)
Sets: 2-3

  • Hold a kettlebell in your right hand and take your weight onto your right leg, resting on the ball of your left foot (A).
  • Bend forward to lower your body towards the ground, lifting the left leg upwards into the air, making a T-shape with your body (B).
  • Pause and reverse process to the start position. Repeat on both sides.

kettlebell swing demonstration woman demonstrates kettlebell swing

Kettlebell Swing

This will develop coordination and explosive power through the hips and core

Reps: 10
Sets: 8-10

  • Place the kettlebell on the floor. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend your knees, hinge forward at the hips and grab the top of the kettlebell with both hands, making a triangle shape with your body.
  • Swing the kettlebell back between your legs (A) and stand up quickly by snapping your hips forward and squeezing your glutes.
  • Swing the kettlebell in an arc to mid-torso height as you stand (B).
  • Let the kettlebell fall back through your legs (don’t put it down) and repeat.

kettlebell row demonstration woman demonstrates kettlebell swing in strength workout for cyclists

Kettlebell Row

This will develop strength and stability in the upper back and combat the posture of the body in the saddle

Reps: 8-12
Sets: 3+

  • Start in a split stance, with right leg forward and left leg behind. Pick a kettlebell up from the floor with your left hand (A).
  • Row the weight into an imaginary pocket by driving your elbow upwards and towards your torso (B). With control, return the weight towards the ground.
  • Repeat 8-12 times for three sets, then switch sides.
  • You will often be told to maintain a neutral spine, but also try lengthening the spine as this often provides the platform for an optimum row.

kettlebell plank lateral drag demonstrationwoman demonstrates kettlebell drag in strength workout for runners

Kettlebell Plank Lateral Drag

Provides anti-rotational movement through the entire torso

Reps: 20 (alternating sides)
Sets: 4+

  • Start in a high plank position, with hands under shoulders and the body in a straight line from head to toes. Place a kettlebell slightly to the side and behind your right hand (A).
  • Reach across the body and drag the weight to the left side, placing it behind where the left hand would be (B).
  • Repeat to drag it back to the right, then continue alternating for 20 or so reps.
  • A narrow foot position may challenge you further, whilst a wider stance can create more stability.

kettlebell halo kettlebell halo demonstration in strength workout for runners

Kettlebell Halo

The final exercise in this strength workout for cyclists will fire up your core stabilisers, as well as act as a shoulder mobility movement

Reps: 10
Sets: 6-8

  • Start in a standing position with feet hip-width apart. Tuck your pelvis under and engage your core for stability. Hold a kettlebell by the horns, just in front of your face with elbows bent (A).
  • Draw a circle around your head with the weight, from left to right and ensuring control of the weight (B).
  • One complete circle is one rep. Switch directions and continue alternating directions until 10 circles are completed.

Words: Chris Stanton | Photography: Eddie Macdonald | Model: Nicki Petitt-Ward | Clothing UA Mid Crossback Printed Sports Bra, UA No-Slip Waistband Printed Ankle Leggings, UA HOVR Omnia Training Shoes (all

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