MF CAR­DIO EX­PERT Will weight train­ing help my cy­cling?

Whether you’re a vet­eran or a newbie, on the road or the track, strength train­ing will im­prove your per­for­mance, says a six-time Olympic cham­pion

Men's Fitness - - Experts -

With seven medals, six of them gold, Chris Hoy is the most dec­o­rated Olympic cy­clist of all time – and he’s also an 11-time world cham­pion. As he ex­plains, weight train­ing isn’t just for mam­moth-thighed su­per- sprint­ers like him.

Road cy­clists tend to have a mis­con­cep­tion about weights – they think they’re only of value to track spin­ters who need ex­plo­sive power. They do ev­ery­thing they can not to gain too much weight, and many of them worry that if they so much as look at a dumb­bell they’ll put on a kilo – and that this will slow them down. But my mes­sage is that weight train­ing can bring ev­ery­one func­tional im­prove­ments with­out mak­ing them heav­ier.

Prime beef

You can use it to be­come more pow­er­ful in short bursts or im­prove ac­cel­er­a­tion on climbs. It’ll also help you pre­vent in­jury – be­ing on a bike for hours at a time is not great for your pos­ture – and work­ing your core will get the most out of your propul­sive prime mover mus­cles: quads, glutes, ham­strings and lower back. This means faster cy­cling, no mat­ter the dis­tance.

Be­fore you start, of course, you have to be clear about what you’re try­ing to achieve. When I was train­ing as a track sprinter I would do two or three gym ses­sions a week do­ing low rep­e­ti­tions with heavy weights, al­ways fo­cus­ing on the quads, glutes, ham­strings and lower back. How­ever, if you’re an en­durance cy­clist look­ing to im­prove your ac­cel­er­a­tion or climb­ing, put uni­lat­eral ex­er­cises with a full range of move­ment at the core of your work­out – dumb­bell or bar­bell lunges, for ex­am­ple.

Ac­tion plan

Peo­ple of­ten over­look the im­por­tance of hav­ing a plan. If you just turn up to the gym and hop on and off the ma­chines you’ll get nowhere and pos­si­bly even get in­jured, es­pe­cially if you go too heavy too soon. I’ve al­ways done gym train­ing, but early in my ca­reer I would only class it as a de­cent ses­sion if I could barely walk af­ter. The ef­fect was that my next track ses­sion would be very low-qual­ity. Once I started tweak­ing my ses­sions to make them work with the rest of my pro­gramme, my times on the track im­proved mas­sively.

For cy­clists, weight train­ing cer­tainly isn’t a re­place­ment for get­ting out on the bike – you still need to spend lots of time in the sad­dle – but if you sup­ple­ment your train­ing with some good-qual­ity gym work, it’s go­ing to ben­e­fit you in the long run. Chris Hoy is an elite con­sul­tant for sports nu­tri­tion com­pany Science in Sport and uses the new SiS Whey Pro­tein. Visit sci­en­cein­sport.com

Not sure weight train­ing

is help­ful for cy­clists? Well, six-time Olympic gold medal­list Hoy can

leg press 650kg

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