4. FORM AND COMPREHENSION FIRST, WEIGHT SECOND
OW DO I get stronger on the bike?” you ask. It’s that time of year: your races are done and you know where you stand performance-wise. You might find yourself wondering how some girls are so strong on the bike. How some guys ride by you as if you’re standing still. There’s at least one explanation: strength. They have more of it than you (at present).
If you’re wondering what you can do this winter to improve your cycling (and your running and swimming, by the way), consider adding a regular strength training program to your routine (if you’re not already doing so).
The majority of adult age group athletes are not limited by their muscular endurance. They’re fond of their long training rides. They bump up to their competitive distances (whether it be standard, half or full) as quickly as they can. The ability to perform repeated muscular contractions at low levels of force is not what limits most athletes. Rather it is their muscular strength – the ability to contract their muscles forcefully and/or against heavy resistance.
When most people start they typically improve almost regardless of what training they perform. Beginner and intermediate athletes get better quite simply by accumulating miles on the bike, running and in the pool. But once the initial break-in period has come and gone, the next step is to focus on muscular strength.
Reams of information are available for the endurance athlete on strength training. This article isn’t intended to regurgitate the research and advice that’s readily available elsewhere. Rather, it’s meant to get you thinking of a few strength-related concerns and to consider a few things that you might not have anticipated when it comes to strength training for the endurance athlete. You should first understand why you’re doing each exercise and be able to perform each exercise with proper technique. Know what the exercise is doing for you (i.e., believe in the exercise) and make sure you’re doing it properly (to avoid possible injury and to ensure the effect of the exercise is realized). Only once you understand and can perform each exercise properly should you be concerned with adding weight.