BicycleSource Newsletter

Cycling regularly is great for lower body strength, but short changes upper body muscle groups. Bikes with high handlebars, such as downhill mountain bikes or consumer-oriented cruisers, also put little weight on the hands, cutting out the endurance muscle that roadies can get from riding on the drops. And this can be a major liability - not only for giving you that extra edge in road competitions, but definitely for mountain bikers who are often required to lift, jump, or just plain muscle heavier bikes over rough terrain and obstacles.

A successful program should focus on building strength in winter and maintaining it during the peak riding season.

Why 'Muscle Up'?
  1. The upper body, including abs, is an integral part of the pedal stroke in technical single track riding - just watch mountain bikers pulling and rocking their shoulders and handlebars through a tough course. This motion actually levers the bike and adds to the power of the legs on the pedals.

  2. Muscle strength in the quads and legs can mean the difference between walking and riding up a short (10 to 15 pedal stroke) hill.

  3. A strong upper body gives additional protection for those falls that are part of the sport.

  4. Muscle strength and endurance help prevent the fatigue of the constant jarring and correction that are part of a long descent - and in turn this freshness helps to maintain sharp reflexes and technical.

Recommended Exercise Plans

There are two approaches to resistance or weight training. The first is the "keep it simple" approach one can put together at home and on the bike, and the other is the more "traditional" using free weights. Both should be done 3 times a week (2 times at a minimum) to maximize benefits.

Most coaches recommend a program of strength building (higher weights, fewer reps) in the winter and then a shift to lower weights (perhaps 50% max) and more reps (3 sets, 50% max.weight, 25 reps OR 2 sets, 25% max.weight, 50 reps) as the cycling season approaches to mimic the ways you use your muscles on the bike and to decrease the possibility of injuries.

Keep It Simple

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