When it comes to strength training most cyclists are still stuck in the dark ages. I see so many plans online that feature endless rounds of leg presses, squats, lunges, etc. STOP IT! Now I am not saying that strong legs are not required to be a good cyclists. I am saying that most likely you can’t access the strength you have.
Next time you are at the gym load up as much weight as you think you can handle on a leg press machine. My guess is you can easily press 2-3 times your body weight for multiple reps. Now as a thought experiment (don’t actually try it) what would happen if you put that same weight on a barbell in a squat rack? If you could even get it off the rack if you tried to squat it you would most likely end up in the hospital or onto one of those gym fail videos. So, what went wrong? We just proved our legs are crazy strong. Well legs are only one part of the puzzle. In sport no muscle group operates in a vacuum. We need to think about the entire system. In the leg press machine you are pressing against a fixed platform and are able to harness all the strength in your legs. In the squat rack you now have to have massive strength in your core, lower back, shoulders, and you have to balance. You will find out really fast where the weak link is in that chain. You need to create that fixed platfrom to push from by using you entire muscular system as one. On a bike is no different. For us to access the massive strength in our legs we also need to create a fixed platform. We do that through our grip on the bars and the tension we can create through our core. A quick word on core: When I describe core I am referring to both the abs and the lower back. Core is a lot more than abs and crunches.
So what good is it if we have the strongest legs in the world but the weakest core and upper body? A properly designed strength plan will address every link in the chain. At WUKAR Fit I train well rounded athletes who are strong across the board. We train legs yes, but we hit the upper body, grip, and core equally as hard. A race car is much more than a 1000hp engine. To use that power they beef up the cam, the drive shaft, the gear box, the tires. All of those things operate as one to deliver the power to the ground. Top pro’s like Keegan Swenson and Alex Grant can crank out 15+ pull ups with ease. Their legs are incredibly strong too. Now these guys came to me strong already. My job is just to refine. They recognized the importance of training the entire system long before they started training with me.
So, next time you are in the gym trying to improve you sprint maybe jump on the pull up bar instead of the leg press.
Stronger is better.