I’ve been following a thread on a mailing list regarding whether or not a strength program benefits a cyclist. There have been many well-reasoned, passionate arguments from both sides, but it seems the consensus is either it depends on the person, or we simply don’t know. Some rider friends have told me that weights can actually hurt rather than help, while others say the opposite.
Last year I put together a rudimentary program inspired by Joe Friel that I think worked for me. There was an initial setback on the bike, which probably had more to do sore legs than anything else. Once I was back into riding shape, I found myself stronger than ever. However, a lot of my results probably had to do with the weakened state of my muscles. I simply hadn’t experienced enough in the sport, so any program would have made a difference.
Things are different now. This last year was phenomenal, and I’m now in significantly better shape than ever in my life. That may mean that my gains will be less drastic, but I am trusting that my coach knows what he’s doing. Even if it doesn’t help, I doubt it will hurt.
The first phase is a lot of easy leg and core exercises. To my surprise, he does not have me doing squats, at least not yet. The workout now is more well-rounded, not just working the quadriceps, but also the calf, hamstrings, glutes, lower back, and other neglected muscles.
I found that my quads were in pretty good shape going in. That was a pleasant surprise, given that the only maintenance I had done was hill climbing. That bodes well for next year.
The other muscles, eh … not so much. The hamstrings weren’t so bad. Calves were rough; lower back was painful. I still have not been able to complete the prescribed back exercises.
Speaking of neglected muscles, my abdominals have not been worked out in about a year. That’s the muscle group I always mean to work out, but the most I get done is a crunch or two.
Bobby’s core workout rocked my world. He has me on a series of complex exercises, some of which make me feel like I want to throw up. After the first two routines, my abs were killing me. What’s worse is they seemed to feel worse every day afterward. After a couple weeks, the soreness has finally abated, but the workouts are still tough. I have made progress, and that’s all I can ask for.
Will this routine work for me? I think so. The power gains may not be substantial, but the peripheral gains should be noteworthy. A stronger core and lower back should give me a better pedal stroke. Even if I gain nothing, this should reduce the chance of injury, which is worth all the suffering.
I also know that eventually a rest week will be coming. Soon?