Supplemental Gym Work
Structural Integrity. Durability issues. Chronic injuries from imbalances.
Specialization comes at a cost. Often that cost is whole body health. That’s why gym work is important for endurance athletes, especially cyclists who spend most of their training time pedaling a machine designed for efficient, non-weight bearing locomotion.
If you have never done any kind of work in the gym now is the perfect time (especially if this is your “off season”) to begin. Even if you are racing cyclocross this is a good time of year to get into the gym and familiarize yourself with some movements and dial in technique.
If you have the access to a good gym or the resources to create your own home gym (it doesn’t take much) this is also a good time of year to begin a targeted strength program. Because let’s face it, being strong is never a bad thing. Start with a preliminary prep phase (4-6 weeks) of dialing in technique and adapting to the movements. Then you can move into a max strength phase (4-6 weeks) where you increase the weight and reduce the reps to develop maximal strength and muscle recruitment. Following that phase you can move into a power phase where speed of movement is the focus.
Don’t want to make that much of a commitment to the gym? Or maybe you just don’t have access to a good gym or the resources to afford a gym membership or to create a “home gym”. Not a problem. You can develop a simple program of a few compound movements to activate those muscles and pathways that don’t get much attention riding a bike. These can be as simple as planks, bridges and elastic band work. Even getting a couple of 15 to 20 pound kettle bells or dumb bells can open up a realm of beneficial movements.
Bottom line? Again, specialization (in this case hours and hours of riding an extremely efficient machine) comes at a cost. And a targeted supplemental / strength program is going to:
- Improve overall health and wellbeing
- Increase bone and muscle density
- Improve tendon and ligament strength
- Improve joint function
- Reduce potential for injury by correcting imbalances
- Increase metabolism
- Increase neuromuscular function
- Enhance economy of movement
- Increase peak velocity
- Enhance time to exhaustion
Seriously, who wouldn’t want to check all of those boxes?