Off the Bike, Into the Gym

It has been quite a year, far surpassing my goals and expectations. That said, there is always room to improve and this year I’m going to handle the offseason a little differently. Last year I rode through the winter. I will have my share of rides this year, but the focus is going to be on developing full body strength, which should help with my fitness and performance for next year.

Over the last few weeks I have been transitioning to my off-season training program. This week I dusted off my gym membership and tried to figure out how to lift weights. I have done some strength training in the past, but nothing catered towards cycling. With the help of Joe Friel‘s book, some internet searches, and good old fashioned trial-and-error, I settled on a plan.

I will hit the gym for strength training 2-3 times a week with the following routine.

Warmup:

Elliptical machine – This is my preferred way to get the body loose and start with some moderate cardio. The focus here is to just get ready for weights, not go crazy with intervals or anything.

Lower Body:

Upright Squat – This will by my foundational exercise as it will strengthen my quad and hamstrings, giving me power to the pedals. My gym has two machines, one of which works more of the muscle, while the other interacts more with the core. I’ll alternate these.

Leg Press – This is a reverse squat. It is the same motion, but from a different position. I lie on my back and put force on the weights with my legs. I believe this works more with my lower back.

Leg Extension – This is supposed to be more of a knee exercise, but I feel it most in my quads. It is a great workout if I do sets with one leg at a time.

Core:

Seated Row – My gym has a regular rowing machine and also the seated row with weights. Both are great workouts. The rowing machine is probably more of a full body workout with a focus on the core. The seated row is also full body, but I’ve noticed a lot of the pressure on my upper body.

Curl-Ups – Just your regular old, garden-variety curl-up/sit-up. The gym has a few different tools to accomplish this. My favorite is the one where you rest on a bench, leaning back with the head angled toward the ground and legs locked up top. Once I get some core strength, I’ll work in some abdominal twists with this exercise.

Upper Body:

Lat Pull Down – This has me seated on a bench, pulling the weight above my head to near my shoulders.

Bench Press – Eventually I might do free weights, but for now I am using the assisted press machine.

Standing Row – My gym does not have a machine for this, so I am using free weights, standing straight up and lifting them up to my shoulders. The focus on this one is on form, This is great for my triceps.

Cool Down:

Recumbent bike – I would prefer an upright or, better yet, a cycling trainer. My gym has some upright bikes, but I’m not crazy about them. The recumbent will have to do.

The focus here is on low weights, whatever feels comfortable, and lots of reps. Maybe two or three sets of 15-20 reps with short breaks in between. As I develop a strength base, probably mid-winter, I will increase the load and focus on a few select exercises.

Since I’m just getting started here, I’m staying off the bike for the time being. We have a Winter training group starting around Thanksgiving, so I’ll be getting some winter riding. That will be good for me to keep some riding fitness, but my primary motivation will to get the most out of the gym.


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