Week 5: Strength Training for Cycling

In 11 short days, I will be gearing up (cheesy cycling joke? Anyone?) for race day. Man, did that ever sneak up on me. My training has been kicked up a notch this week and I am pretty confident that I can finish the race, but I am still pretty nervous nonetheless.
I attended a TriDu clinic over the weekend, and although it was a wee bit intimidating to sit in a room full of my fellow racers, there were a lot of great tips in the presentation. One thing that was really emphasized was practicing the transitions – both the logistics of switching your shoes, putting on your helmet, changing out of your swimsuit, etc., as well as the mechanics of your body getting used to the change in motion as you change sports. Transitions are easy places to shave off a decent chunk of your race time. With that in mind, this weekend I will be going through the swim-to-bike and bike-to-run transitions to make sure they are as speedy as possible. I am also now doing two sports per workout (today is a swim-bike day) to help my body get used to doing different kinds of exercises in one burst.
Another possible way to improve your race time is by incorporating strength training into your exercise regimen. Cycling relies a lot on power in your lower body, so here are a couple of exercises to do in the gym to help you on the road.
Step-ups with dumbbells: This exercise is great for developing hip and leg power, both of which are essential for cycling. You will need a step and two 15-25 lb. dumbbells. Stand in front of the step with a dumbbell in either hand at your side with one leg on the step. Stand yourself up on the step by placing your weight on your front leg until it is straight. Your back leg should hang behind you. Step back down onto your back leg to complete the repetition. Do 3 sets of 15 repetitions on each leg. Be sure to maintain a tight core and a tall spine throughout.
 

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Image courtesy of Maximum Fitness

Side lunges: In cycling, you are frequently moving your legs away from the median plane of your body, which uses your abductor muscles. To help your body get used to this motion, you should use an exercise that works your abductors, like a side lunge. Side lunges will also help you strengthen your core, which will help with all of the disciplines in the triathlon. Start with your feet parallel and hip-width apart. Keeping your abs engaged, step one leg out as far as you can and bend it at a 90-degree angle so your knee is over your toes, while the other stays straight. Push your hips back so that your tailbone is parallel to the floor during this motion. Hold for 2 seconds, then straighten your leg and step back into the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 15 reps per leg. You can try lunging deeper or holding a 20-30 lb. weight if you want to make this a little more challenging.
 

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Image courtesy of Women’s Health Magazine

It takes a while to see results from strength training so this may not turn you into a cycling superstar by race day, but it will definitely be helpful when training for your next race! Remember to keep us in the loop on your training by using #TriHard on Twitter!

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