In-Season Strength Training for Cyclists: Keeping What You’ve Gained
The most common question I get asked when it comes to strength training for cyclists is “What’s the best way to train?”
My answer is always the same, “It depends.” There are many different ways to train, but there are certain things that will work better than others.
So what exactly does it mean?
Well, let me explain…
“Strength” refers to muscle mass or size. Muscle mass is important because it helps you perform various tasks such as running faster, jumping higher, climbing ladders and so forth.
“Muscle” refers to any type of tissue that contains blood vessels called myocytes (muscles contain more than 100 million myocytes). Muscles have fibers which are bundles of myocytes.
FIBER MYOTES! That’s right, fibers. These fibers are made up of individual units called sarcomeres. Sarcomeres control how fast your muscles contract. When they’re not working properly, you feel tired and weak. They also make sure that each muscle fiber contracts at the correct speed to produce maximum force during contraction.
Fibers also act like shock absorbers, absorbing energy from the body when they contract. They do this by stretching out, like an elastic band.
When your muscles contract, your muscle fibers shorten and get shorter until they completely curl up and you can’t push them any further. This is known as “muscle failure.” You stop before this happens because if you push too far, you could seriously injure yourself.
Sure, it sounds complicated, but really it just means that strength training helps your muscles to get bigger and stronger so that they can efficiently work for you.
Now that we have a good understanding of what strength is and does, let’s talk about how to increase it. There are several ways to get stronger:
Stretching – Most people think that stretching is a waste of time. In fact, studies show that people who stretch before and after working out gain less muscle mass than people who don’t stretch at all!
This doesn’t mean that you should skip stretching altogether though. Stretching actually helps to reduce injury and can make your workouts more effective.
Eat a heavy meal – Eating before a workout can help to increase your performance in the gym because your body has a readily available energy source. It’s important to remember though that you don’t want to over-eat, otherwise, you’ll just feel sluggish after your workout instead of invigorated.
Also, make sure that you eat a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein before working out because the amino acids from the protein will be used to create new muscle tissue.
How to Train(the right way) – Strength training is pretty simple. Basically, it involves lifting weights and putting your muscles under stress so that they can adapt and get stronger.
There are several types of training programs that you can follow to get stronger:
1. Linear Progression – This is the most common type of weight lifting program.
To get the most out of it, you need to start with a lower weight so that your muscles can get used to the stress. Each week, increase the weight that you lift by a small amount (5% is ideal).
When you get to the point where you can lift the heaviest weight you have, increase the size of the weight you’re lifting (for example, if you’re lifting 100 lbs, move up to 110 lbs).
2. Rep Range – This program involves lifting a weight that’s heavy enough to tire your muscles after around 12 repetitions.
When you can do 12 reps easily, increase the weight you’re lifting.
3. Giant Set – This is a fast way to build strength.
It involves performing 4-5 different exercises for the same muscle group in a row and then moving on to the next muscle group. Rest after you’ve finished all of the sets for all of the muscle groups.
Regardless of which program you choose, it’s important that you give your muscles at least one day of rest between workouts for that muscle group. Also, be sure to warm up before working out and cool down afterwards.
You know that guy in your gym that seems to be built like a brick s@%thouse? Guess what?
He has a lot of fast twitch fibers. That means he was born with the ability to get huge and strong fast. This doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck though. Even though you weren’t born with these traits, you can still achieve a sizable physique if you work hard and eat right.
In the next section, we’ll go over how to eat right and create the most anabolic (tissue building) environment for your body. I’ll also go over how to stay safe and watch out for dangerous situations that could impede your progress.
The food that you put into your body has a massive effect on your training. I’ve already mentioned that working out when you’re not getting enough calories is pointless and can actually be harmful to your body.
You know now that the amount of food you need to eat and the time at which you eat it can vastly improve your training. Let’s get right into it.
Eating Five to Six Times a Day
You might have heard of some bodybuilders or other athletes saying that they eat every two and a half hours or some other strange amount of time. They might even go on to say that they never let more than three hours go by without eating.
The reason is because their training demands a lot from their bodies and they need to eat often to keep their energy up.
They’re not doing this because they’re p@!n stars or because someone is forcing food into their mouths (although that does happen in some cases).
They’re doing this because they’ve found what works best for their body and their goals.
The reason why you might want to eat every two and a half hours isn’t necessarily because your body is demanding food, but more because of the way that insulin works. The more often you eat, the more evenly your blood sugar stays and the less work your body has to do to keep it balanced.
This means that you’ll have a lot more energy and get sick less often. It also helps prevent the feeling of hunger which can be really draining on your mind.
How much should I eat?
When it comes to eating, there are a few things you have to take into consideration:
1. Genetics – Some people can eat virtually anything and never gain a pound.
These people might be able to afford to eat a lot more than others and still stay the same size. On the flip side of that, there are people who seem to gain weight just by looking at food.
These people might have to be a lot more strict with their diets to see any sort of results.
2. Metabolism – This is related to genetics, but it also includes other things, such as your activity level and how many calories you burn in a day.
Someone who is very active might be able to eat a lot more than someone who leads a sedentary lifestyle.
Outcome – Are you trying to build muscle, lose weight or achieve some other goal?
Depending on the goal, you might have to eat a lot or eat very little in order to achieve it.
To make things a little easier for you, I’ll give you a sample diet plan that you can adjust based on your goals and needs.
Meal 1 – Whole Eggs (3-5), Whole Grain Cereal (1 Bowl), Fruit (4oz)
Meal 2 – Mixed Vegetables (1 Cup), Protein Bar (Mostly Protein, Little Carbs)
Meal 3 – Nuts or Legumes (1/2 CUP), Salad (2-3 Cups) with Low Fat Dressing
Meal 4 – more protein such as chicken, beef, pork, lamb, turkey (3 OZ), Steamed/Cooked Vegetables (2 Cups)
Meal 5 – Pre-made Protein shake (find one with little to no carbs and little to no fat).
NOTE: Try to eat every 2-3 hours. If you’re really hungry, you can have a snack, but keep it light as not to throw off your schedule!
There are many other things that you might need to learn about your body and eating. This is just a general guideline that covers the main aspects of dieting.
I recommend that as you go on, you learn more about nutrition and what works best for you specifically, but this will at least get you started.
Workout wise, it’s going to depend on what your goals are and how much time you actually have to train. If you want to be big and muscular but also require minimal time, then I’d go with a body part split.
Basically, this just means that you divide your body into groups of muscles and only work those each day. For instance, you could work just your legs and lower back one day, then work your upper body the next day.
This way you’re splitting your body up.
Usually these are the typical body part splits that most people follow:
Monday – Chest and Back
Tuesday – Legs and Abs
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – Shoulders and Arms
Friday – Off
Saturday – Off or Cardio (running, biking, swimming, etc..
Sources & references used in this article:
Cycling, Programming by K Orser – koathletics.ca
Endurance Athletes: Add Strength to Up Your Game by J Weir – breakingmuscle.com
The lived experience of an in-season concussion amongst NCAA Division I student-athletes by MS Moreau, JL Langdon… – … Journal of Exercise …, 2014 – digitalcommons.wku.edu
Bike racing 101 by K Wenzel, R Wenzel – 2003 – books.google.com
Bicycling Maximum Overload for Cyclists: A Radical Strength-Based Program for Improved Speed and Endurance in Half the Time by J DeVore, R Wallack – 2017 – books.google.com