As a cyclist, there are a lot of components you need to work on to stay strong. Not only do you need aerobic fitness and endurance in the saddle, you also need to make sure those pins are strong enough to get you up tough climbs! Follow our leg strength workout specifically designed for cyclists so that you can make those gains and improve your performance on the bike.
Barbell Front Squats - 3 sets of 6
Back squats get a lot of attention, but front squats could be even better for your cycling gains. Squatting with the bar in front of you forces you to be more upright and puts more pressure on your glutes. When cycling, the glutes are some of the most important muscles because a good squeeze through the glutes could really improve your speed and power and they are the biggest muscle group in the lower body.
To perform a barbell front squat, start with a barbell across your chest, supported by your hands holding it from underneath. Keep your elbows as high as possible and support the bar with your fingertips, not your palms. Keep your chest proud and drop into a deep squat. Squeezing your glutes hard, push back up to standing. If you cheat on your form, you'll drop the bar! So keep your head up and push through your heels.
Pistol Squats - 3 sets of 10 on each leg
Pistol squats are a great exercise for cyclists as it'll increase your strength for tough climbs and almost mimics the movement of standing out of the saddle while pedalling. Additionally, working each leg individually means they will both be strong and the dominant leg can't take over all the work leaving the less dominant leg staying weaker.
To perform a pistol squat, find a bench at the gym and stand about 2 inches in front of it, facing away. Hold one leg out in front of you and slowly lower yourself down until your behind lightly touches the bench. Don't rest all of your weight on the bench, and stand back up. Try not to touch the floating leg onto the floor between reps. Do all 10 reps on the right leg, then all 10 reps on the left leg.
Barbell Walking Lunges
Walking lunges are one of the most dreaded exercises in the gym as they are such a killer, but will help you smoke those mountains with ease. Walking lunges will test your core strength as well as your legs, which is perfect for keeping form on the bike.
To perform barbell walking lunges, start with a barbell on your back in a fairly light weight, 20-30kg will be more than enough. Start with your feet together, then walk forward into a lunge. Bring your back leg in to meet the front one before stepping forward into a lunge on the other leg. Keep lunging forwards like this in a set space.
Farmer's walks are a classic Strongman exercise and work the core, back, shoulders, and grip like nothing else. This is perfect for cycling as it will condition your wrists and hands to the pressure of leaning on the handlebars for hours on end and will strengthen your legs too.
To perform farmer's walks, find yourself some heavy kettlebells, at least 16kg. Hold one in each hand and walk forwards normally. Make sure you do not cross your feet over and take normal-sized steps, not 'pigeon' steps. Keep your shoulders up and relaxed and your core braced throughout.
Calf Raises - 3 sets of 10
Calf raises are a fairly underrated exercise. Usually just for bodybuilders who want to sculpt every inch of their body, calf raises are considered unnecessary by most gym-goers due to the calves being worked during other exercises like squats and lunges. However, you're not just any gym-goer, you're a cyclist! The stretch at the bottom of a calf raise is perfect for cyclists and will mimic the shape your leg takes at the bottom stroke of each revolution of the pedals.
To perform a calf raise, stand on a step or ledge with your heels hanging over the edge and something to hold onto for balance. Slowly lower your heels down as far as you can and really feel the stretch through your calves and ankles. Squeeze your calves and stand up on your tip toes as high as you can. Then slowly lower back down. Take it really slow and make each rep very deliberate, feeling every stretch and squeeze.