The gym isn’t for cyclists?

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How many times have we heard that going to the gym isn’t for cyclists? They always use the same excuse: “When I lift weights I gain muscle mass and then I can’t climb well.” This common complaint results in most cyclists doing some toning work at the start of the season and then giving it up. Our experience, and logic tell us it shouldn’t be like this.

Gaining strength or muscle mass
When you go to the gym, it shouldn’t always be with a mind to increase muscle mass. There are people who seem to have an intense allergic reaction to weights. “When I pick up a weight my muscles really bulk up.” For most people, it would be great if this were so because they’d save a lot of hours of effort. This observation is also very common among women. But the reality is something else.

To gain muscle mass you have to work out very methodically over a high number of sessions. During the winter break, muscles tend to “shrink” due to a lack of training. At the start of the season, the muscle starts to grow, and its weight might increase. During the season, any gym workouts you do will help you gain strength, but not weight.

 

What’s the benefit of working out in a gym for a cyclist?
Cyclists often obsess over getting in the maximum number of hours on the bike and forget that training isn’t about training more, it’s about training as little as possible to perform at your best. Saying this will make it easier for an athlete to understand that time in the gym isn’t time wasted, but time gained.

There are many reasons for this:

  • Gym workouts let you target muscles that aren’t used much on the bikeand that are out of balance in comparison to “nearby” muscles that are super developed.
  • Correcting this imbalance usually means reducing or eliminating pain.
  • What’s more, in the gym you can specifically work muscles that limit your performance on the bike, such as the forearms in a cross-country or downhill rider, or the glutes in a time trialist.
  • Improving the muscle strength needed for your type of sport.
  • Developing coordination and joint stability with functional exercises.

 

How should I work out in the gym?

Every day there are increasingly more interesting components and tools in gyms for doing effective workouts. The world of fitness is advancing by leaps and bounds and we have to put this to good use. If you’re new to the world of weight rooms, you should start out with “classic” exercises on the resistance machines, and throw in some dumbbell exercises (free weight). Once you’ve gained some strength and especially coordination and joint stability, you can move on to more complex exercises with free weights.

After completing these two phases, we recommend progressing to more functional workouts to keep improving. This phase involves the use of basic elements like fitball or bosu ball. The use of resistance bands and TRX is also common.

These types of exercises tend to focus on building strength, coordination and stability with much more complex workouts and with one fundamental pillar: upper-body strength. We’ll go into more details on this type of training in the next instalment.

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