Most of the attention in cycling is focused on your legs and lungs, understandably. But strong arms can also play a critical role in on-bike performance—most importantly, by fighting off fatigue.
"Having stronger biceps and triceps means your arms will be under less metabolic stress as you ride," says Inigo San Millan, PhD, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at University of Colorado Hospital's Sports Medicine Clinic, in Denver.
"Those muscles can then help remove lactate from your system during the ride, instead of producing it." That means more energy on long rides—and more power for climbs.
The key to efficiency, says San Millan, is to add strength without bulk. Try three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions of the following exercises two to three times a week, using dumbbells that total about 75 percent of the maximum weight that you can comfortably manage.
On-the-road benefit:Works biceps to mimic a handlebar-pulling climb.
Try it: Stand straight, a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing your sides. Keeping upper arms tight against your body, raise the dumbbells until your forearms are nearly vertical and your thumbs face your shoulders. Slowly lower to original position.
Lying Triceps Extension
On-the-road benefit: Isolates triceps to reduce long-ride fatigue.
Try it: Lie on your back on the floor, knees bent, feet flat. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in, arms at your sides. Extend your arms toward the ceiling and slowly bend your elbows, lowering the dumbbells until they're at either side of your head. Repeat by raising arms toward the ceiling again, not by lowering them back to the floor as they were at the start.
On-the-road benefit: Adds strength to ride-stabilizing muscles.
Try it: Assume the push-up position. Tighten your abs and glutes to keep your back in a straight line. Slowly lower yourself to the floor, keeping your elbows against your body and in line with your shoulders. Push back up to return to the starting position.
Build strength at a weight training class