What Strength Training Exercises Do I Need For a Full-Body Workout?
To reap the benefits of strength training for cyclists, how do you know what exercises to do?
We know that strength training at least once a week will help build a stronger foundation for your on-the-bike work.
Strength training helps you ride faster, with more endurance, and more power.
But what do you do, and how do you fit it into your regular training?
If you understand the structure of the body’s six movements, they become an easy and effective structure for your strength training
What are Different Strength Training Exercises? Use the Six Movements!
There are six main movements in our human bodies. Sometimes they are broken down into just four categories.
- Push Movements (Chest and Shoulder)
- Pull Movements (Chest and Shoulder)
- Hip Hinge
- Squat (bending hips and knees)
If you use these six movements as the structure of your workouts, you will have a workout that takes less time, is more focused, and works all the major muscle groups in your body.
Our goal as cyclists is not to build muscle mass – although I admit that adding a little bulk to my stick arms is nice – but to increase the capacity of the muscles to do work.
Plus I always add core work to the six movements, just to make sure I’m building torso strength.
Your workout, then, can include six or seven exercises: squat or deadlift movements; hip hinge like Romanian Deadlift; a chest press, a row, shoulder press, or pullup or pull down with shoulders.
Getting the Benefits of Strength Training for Cyclists Does Not Mean Hours in the Gym
I’ve seen some trainers alternate with Push and Pull days.
That’s fine if you want to spend more time in the gym.
But if your goal is to build strength for cycling, the more time you can spend on your bike, the better.
So I do all six movements in one workout that takes 30 to 45 minutes, two to three times a week in the off or pre-season.
For the deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts, I’ll do three sets to build maximum fatigue.
To get the benefits of strength training for cyclists, you only need to do two sets: one to find the right weight for the day, and the second to build fatigue.
Six Movement Structure Works With Different Weight Lifting Exercises
The beauty and simplicity of the Six Movements are that when you go to the gym, you can pick any exercise for a particular movement.
For example, a chest push might be a bench press, dumbbell press, seated cable press, machine chest press, or even TRX bands.
And a chest pull might be seated rows, cable rows, bent-over rows, reverse push up on barbell, etc.
As long as you do at least one exercise for each of these movements, you’ll get a full-body strength workout.
Less Stable Equals More Strength
When you consider the different strength training exercises that provide the most benefit for cyclists, you should consider “unstable” loads.
The less stable the exercise, the more of your body will have to work.
For example, if you do a one-arm dumbbell chest press, you utilize not only your chest and arm but your whole side to keep you from rolling off the bench!
Holding a dumbbell is very unstable, and you have to use more stabilizer muscles to keep the dumbbell stable.
Alternatively, if you do a machine chest press, you primarily use just your chest and arm muscles in isolation. Those stabilizer muscles aren’t as required.
That said, sometimes you just want to focus on one body part, or you have limitations that require more stability.
So if possible, I recommend using dumbbells, barbells, TRX, and/or kettlebells for the majority of your work.
There’s been research to suggest that single-leg or unilateral work provides the most bang for the buck in the weight room.
Doing Bulgarian split squats with one foot on a bench is a sure way to build fatigue in your hips and thighs!
What to Consider for Full-Body Strength Training
Consider these when you create your program:
- One way to save time is to lternate movements, such as hinge and chest pull. Avoid doing the shoulder pull and press at the same time, though!
- Do six to eight repetitions of heavy weight for each exercise for two or three sets each. If you get to 12 repetitions, move up in weight.
- The goal is to fatigue the muscles, not jack up your heart rate. So if you’re breathing hard after a set, take a few moments to let the HR come back down.
- You can do multiple exercises for the same movement. For example, you can do a traditional squat, Bulgarian split squat, and pistol squats with the TRX to deeply fatigue your legs and hips.
- The older you are, the longer it takes to recover from strength work. I make sure I do intervals the same day as lifting. That way all the hard work is done in one day.
- Doing a negative, or slowly releasing the lift, is a solid way to fatigue the muscles.
Strength Training Provides Significant Boost in Performance, Speed, Stability
Research suggests that cyclists should be doing strength training all year long, particularly people over 40.
The pre-season or off-season is the time to hit the strength training hard. You can still do one day a week during the season to maintain your strength gains.
Strength training throughout the year keeps your core stable and your hips and legs strong..
Let’s talk about how Simple Endurance can help you build a strength training program that works for your individual needs.
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