The Best Strength Exercises for Cyclists

As cyclists, we all long for that extra strength to break from the pack or catch up with our opponents in a race. And while cycling is the best workout for improving our cycling fitness and helping us improve our skills, hitting the gym is the only way we can improve our strength. But deciding which are the best strength exercises for cyclists can be quite challenging. After all, there are numerous exercises and workouts that can help cyclists improve their strength.

Therefore, when picking the right strength workouts, you should start by examining which parts of the body need strengthening. When cycling, you use one leg at a time; therefore, you need repeated force production to pedal. You also need a strong core to handle the bike, especially when tackling tough terrains. Therefore, your workouts must address these needs. So here are some of the best strength workouts you can do at home or in the gym.

Top 5 Best Strength Exercises for Cyclists

1. Planks With Variation

Plank is a unique exercise that works your willpower, upper body, and core. The plank is a great workout for cyclists as it focuses on both sides of your body separately. Plus, it’s ideal for your hips as you have to keep both sides level, making sure that no side dips. And just like press-ups, the plank has numerous variations that you can try to make the workout as hard or as easy as possible. Therefore, Cycling Hacker recommends that you start with the basic one on the floor, and once you have mastered the technique, you can try other variations.

The exercise: start by lying down facing the floor with your palms facing downwards under the shoulders. Push your body up as if you are doing a push-up, and then hold the position while engaging the core, leg, back, and shoulder muscles. Try and hold that position for as long as possible and then repeat a few times. If a full plank is challenging to you, you can try resting on your elbows instead of extending your arms or putting your knees on the floor.

You can make it more challenging by introducing a gym ball. All you have to do is start with the plank position with the feet on the gym ball and then start pulling the ball towards you using the core muscles. Hold the ball in that position for a while before rolling it back to the starting position. 

2. Push-ups

Being able to easily handle your weight is crucial when it comes to cycling, as it will help you absorb the impacts while cycling downhill. And one of the best exercises that can help you handle your weight is push-ups. If you have trouble with push-ups, then you can start by putting your hands on a chair or steps. And then work your way to full push-ups, and the more consistent you are, the quicker you’ll perfect it. With time you can start incorporating balance or weights into your routine.

The exercise: move in the plank position and then engage your core and lower your body by bending your arms. Hold the position without allowing your body to touch the ground and then return to the starting point. But it’s crucial that you keep your core tight, your back in line with your head, and your entire body straight.

3. Squats

Squats are very important for cyclists. They works on every muscle in your legs, knees, and hips, helps with athletic movements, and increases flexibility. And if done correctly, this workout will help your muscles grow while giving you the needed strength.

The exercise: you can start with three sets of ten reps with about a 90-seconds rest between each set. To do the squats correctly, you should stand by placing your feet shoulder-width apart and lower the body to a sitting position by simply pushing your hips backward and bending the knees. Lower your body as far as you can, hold the position and then rise.

4. Lunges

Lunges are ideal for cyclists who want to increase their on-bicycle strength. This workout exercises each muscle on your lower body, particularly the hamstrings, quads, and hips. In fact, lunges are ideal for individuals who plan on working out at home. In the gym, you can mix it up with things like walking lunges and weighted lunges. But make sure you keep the core straight with the head straight and lead with your chest while ensuring that the knees never go beyond your toes.

The exercise: you can start with three sets of ten reps with about 45 seconds of rest between the sets. Start by stepping forward from a standing position with your right leg. And then bend your left one until its knee is almost touching the ground. Finally, you can push yourself up using the right foot and repeat this procedure with your left foot.

5. Deadlifts

The deadlift is a unique exercise that activates your core, back, and leg muscles. Deadlift is a simple routine that will help increase your power and overall muscle strength while supporting the critical movements necessary to make you a fast and efficient cyclist. The deadlift is an ultimate compound movement that is considered one of the best strength exercises for cyclists.

The exercise: you can start with 4 sets of 8 reps with about a minute rest. Stand in front of the barbell and then squat and grip the barbell. Make sure your forearms can easily brush the outer part of your thighs. And then push your shoulders back and lift the weights until the barbell levels with your thighs. Hold the position for a while and lower the weight before repeating the same procedure.

Final Thoughts for Cyclist

Cycling is a fun activity with numerous health and mental benefits. And when done correctly, cycling can do more than help you stay fit. Cycling can help you lower your stress level. And the only way you can tackle long and tough terrains is by improving your strength with the above simple workouts. But make sure you don’t hit the gym immediately after you have finished cycling. You should allow yourself at least 6 hours between cycling and strength workouts.  

Use Jefit to Track Your Strength Workouts for Cycling

Try Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC MagazineMen’s HealthThe Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. In addition, the app has ability to track data, offer audio cues, and has a feature to share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your fitness lifestyle.

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Here Are The Most Often Selected Exercises For Jefit

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The award-winning Jefit app, was recently named best app for 2021 by Men’s Health, PC Magazine and others. The workout planning & tracking app includes a database of more than 1350 exercises. Of all the exercises featured on the app, Jefit members (more than 9 million), continue to choose three exercises more often than any others.

The most often selected Jefit exercises are:

1. Barbell Bench Press

2. Barbell Bicep Curl

3. Wide Grip Lat Pull-Down

Let’s take a look at each one of these. Two of the three are multi-joint exercises (bench press and lat pull-down) and none surprisingly work the lower body. Only two leg exercises actually made our top ten list. The most often used exercises, if you were interested, are barbell deadlift followed by barbell squat.

Most Often Used Jefit Exercise – Barbell Bench Press

No surprise here that bench press is the most often used Jefit exercise. It has always been a long time staple in bodybuilding, traditional and sport-specific workout programs. Considered an ideal exercise because it develops upper body strength and power. It also helps pack on upper body muscle mass while targeting multiple muscle groups. As a result, it’s probably one of the best multi-joint exercises you can do. Not to mention, it’s a fun exercise to perform and you can easily track your progress in the Jefit app via 1-RM. Finally, don’t you always feels like you get an efficient upper body workout after completing a handful of sets of bench press?

Muscle Groups Worked: Chest, Shoulders, Back & Arms

EMG Activity: See the following study published in the Journal Human Kinetics (2017).

Barbell Bicep Curl

A fan favorite of just about everyone. Dumbbell curls have there place but a barbell bicep curl is terrific for adding size to the biceps. An old favorite of mine is barbell bicep curl 21’s. Even though barbell biceps curl is a favorite of gym-goers who use Jefit, check out the research paper (below. The study looked at the differences in EMG activity when using a barbell and an EZ curl bar.

Muscle Group Worked: Arms

EMG Activity: Read this study on differences between tradition barbel curl and EZ bar

Wide Grip Lat Pull-Down

This wide grip lat pull-down is a great exercise to add to any program for overall back development. This is one of those exercises that can stress different aspects of the back and arms depending on hand placement. A wide grip recruits more of your back muscles and a close grip pulldown emphasizes the forearm muscles. Considered a great compound or multi-joint, upper-body strength movement, because it targets the back, chest, shoulders, and arms.

Depending on who you read, an over hand grip with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width works best. Lean back slightly, pulling the bar down towards the chest, does a good job activating the biggest back muscle, the latissimus dorsi.

Muscle Groups Worked: Back & Arms

EMG Activity: See this paper that looked at muscle activity of three variations of lat pull-down. Here is a second paper published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2014) on various hand positions during lat pull-down.

Try adding one or all three of these exercises into your next strength training program that you build using the Jefit app and let us know how it goes.

Try Jefit App

The award-winning Jefit app, was named best app for 2021 by PC Magazine and Men’s Health. It comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s huge exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong and recover well using Jefit.

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Compound Strength Exercises Work Best for a Strong Body

When you’re looking to increase muscle size and build strength, you should focus on using more compound strength exercises. Research over time has demonstrated compound exercises are superior compared to other types of exercise. In fact, a 2017 study published in Frontiers in Physiology looked at exercise subjects who used compound versus isolation exercises over an eight-week period. The study showed that the group who focused on compound strength exercises had greater gains in both strength and VO2 max. A second study published in 2019, also supports the use of multi-joint (MJ) over single-joint (SJ) exercises when looking to improve strength in this case, in the lower body. Researchers reported significant strength increases in both SJ and MJ groups, but the MJ group saw significantly greater increases in 1-RM for all leg exercises that were tested in the study.

What Are Compound Strength Exercises?

Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles or muscle groups at one time (ACSM). An example would be a Barbell Squat which works many muscle groups like the core, legs, hips and back. Another example would be a Bench Press exercise which works the muscles that make up the chest, shoulders and arms. Compound strength exercises are a staple in many exercise programs because they are ideal for building strength and adding size. In addition, a compound exercise will recruit more muscle fiber and in turn burn more calories per minute than a single-joint or isolation exercise. Compound exercises can be performed using body weight, exercise bands, dumbbells or your best option a barbell. This is because the average gym-goer can lift 20% more weight using a barbell compared to dumbbells. Compound exercise are also important because they mimic activities of daily living (ADL’s).

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An example of a compound (or multi-joint) exercise: Pull-up

Examples of Compound & Isolation Type Exercises

Compound (Multi-joint) ExercisesIsolation (Single-joint) Exercises
SquatLeg Extension
DeadliftLeg Curl
DipsTricep Extension
Military PressDumbbell Side Lateral Raise
Pull-UpsBicep Curl
Bench PressDumbbell Chest Fly

What are Isolation Strength Exercises?

Isolation exercises work only one muscle or muscle group and only one joint at a time (ACSM). Examples of isolation exercises include the Biceps Curl or a Leg Extension exercise.

Combining both mult-joint barbell and single-joint dumbbell exercises in a workout has been shown to work well. This type of combination can be seen in the new Jefit program, Compound Strength Routine. Many machine-based strength training products are designed with isolation exercises in mind. Some research has shown, however, that an isolation or single-joint exercise, like a biceps curl, can increase muscle hypertrophy more than a multi-joint exercise.

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An example of an isolation (or single-joint) exercise: Bicep Curl

Jefit’s New Compound Strength Routine

A new advanced strength program designed around multi-joint exercises is the Jefit Compound Strength Routine. The 3-day, advanced, strength training program includes 9-10 strength exercises in each workout. The routine offers three different strength programs, using barbell and dumbbells, and includes 1-3 supersets in each exercise session. This type of program design makes for a faster workout and in turn keeps all the session times less than an hour.

To wrap things up, please read this great list of guidelines from strength expert, Charles Poliquin, that discusses the pro/con of using both compound and isolation type exercises. It’s definitely worth a read. Be well and stay strong!

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