Sunday, May 4, 2008

Weight Training Basics For Mountain Bikers

There are plenty of myths surrounding strength training today, especially in the field of cycling. Myself along with thousands of other mountain bikers believe strength training can be very advantageous in improving your ride.

Why Should You Hit The Gym?
Appropriate weight/resistance training will make you a stronger, faster and more efficient rider. You will improve your control over the bike, increase your power when climbing or sprinting and make your muscles work more effectively. After having a couple of strength training sessions under your belt, your muscles start to employ motor units which increase the efficiency of the muscle, making your stronger and faster as a result.

Body Weight
One of the major reasons why a cyclist may be reluctant to do strength work is the fear on getting heavier. Unless you really start packing on extra meals, your weight gains will be insignificant compared to you strength and ability to use it.

Getting Started
The most important thing to keep in mind when starting a strength program is to include all major muscle groups. One mistake that riders make is to concentrate entirely on their legs which is bad because your leg muscles will become too heavy and your body will be imbalanced. Besides, mountain biking is an activity that involves the whole body where leg muscles are needed to pedal and upper body is needed to provide leverage and control the bike.

If you haven't done weights before or haven't done strength training for a long time, I would recommend you get an instructor to run you through a basic program. If you think instructors are lame and you want to get started now, start on machine weights (as opposed to free weights) and do 2 sets of 12 reps on:

  • machine bench press (chest)

  • shoulder press (shoulders)

  • lat pull down (lats/back)

  • seated row (back)

  • leg press (quads, glutes, hams)

  • hamstring curl (hamstring)

This is a very basic program which is perfect for anyone looking to start weight training but as said earlier, I recommend you consult an instructor. As you improve you may wish to change your program to involve more free weights. Remember to follow the progressive overload principle by gradually increasing weight. You will know if the weight is too heavy if you have poor form resulting in a short range of movement. You will get better results by lifting a lighter weight and having a full range of movement than lifting heavier with a shortened range of movement.

When you start weight training it becomes even more important to stretch before and after working out.

Added benefits of weight training

  • Cycling is a non weight bearing activity so resistance training can help to prevent conditions like osteoporosis

  • improved posture

  • improved injury resistance

  • makes you look HOT!

image by Christopher Rayan

1 comment:

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