Don't Ignore Your Core
The legs need plenty of love, for obvious reasons, and your upper body benefits from strength training, too. But core strength may be a cyclist's most valuable weapon.
"Your core links your upper body and lower body," Kehlenbach said. "When you look at your positioning on a bike, you're sitting on a seat, you're grabbing the handlebars and you're turning the pedals. There needs to be optimal force transformation to the pedals. So upper body is important but your core muscles need to be stable for optimal force transformation to occur."
Your typical core workouts will suffice, and the benefits are numerous:
- Overuse injuries are minimized because "you have that strong stable base of support."
- You're more efficient when pedaling, because "there's no energy being wasted because all that force is going directly down to the pedals."
In short: work your upper body, work your lower body—and work hard at giving them a strong link through your core.
Due to the amount of mileage that's required when training for events like a century ride, there's not a ton of time on a rider's calendar to do strength work. So how much is enough?
"It's going to vary on the type of riding that people do, but as a general rule of thumb I usually recommend twice a week," Kehlenbach said. "You start going more, you may get a marginal benefit increase, but many people just don't have the time to commit to three days a week. If you do it Tuesday and Thursday, or Wednesday and Saturday, I think it's a lot easier to manage into your schedule."
The power meter and the heart-rate monitor will give you an idea of how much you're improving, but you don't have to be that high-tech. Start a journal that not only details all of your strength training, but also your cycling and other factors in your life like nutrition, sleep, stress and more.
"Basically, you're going to start writing a training manual for yourself," Kehlenbach said. "You can follow all the basic training principles, but individuality really goes into account. It can help you with future training or preventing injuries. Some kind of record—keeping track of your day-to-day activity and how it relates to your performance—is invaluable."Search for a cycling event.