Improving your ability to produce a more powerful pedal stroke does not come from doing exercises like leg extensions and leg curls. A powerful downstroke comes from using your hips. Exercises like the barbell hip thrust and deadlift stiff leg will effectively train your legs to drive from the hips and not your knees, which will boost your power on the bike. These five exercise will focus on all the main muscles groups that cycling demands.
To improve your pedal stroke you will always want to use multi-joint exercises that engage multiple muscle groups. If you are new to these exercises, focus on mastering a couple of these exercises before you start expanding your training routine.
Box Jumps1 of 6
Plyometric box jumping is a method to build explosive power in your lower body. Some science behind plyometrics is that it recruits more motor units in the group of muscles that are being used. One of the best ways to increase the motor units in your legs is to do box jumps. Get yourself into an athletic position with your feet shoulder-width apart. You should be a comfortable distance from the box. Bend your knees quickly so you're in a quarter squat, extend your hips and swing your arms up getting yourself on top of the box. Land on the box like you would when your running, with soft feet.
Tips: Box jumps are a high-intensity exercise, be sure to give yourself enough rest in between sets. Make sure that you do these exercises at a challenging height. Do 4 to 6 sets of 3 to 10 reps, with 60 to 90 seconds rest in between sets. This exercise will target your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.
Dumbbell Step Up2 of 6
Stand facing a box that is 12 to 18 inches in height. Hold a pair of dumbbells at your side, step up onto the box with your right leg. Bring up your left foot onto the box, stand tall for a moment and return to the starting position. Next, repeat the movement using your left leg first. Maintain a tight core throughout the movement and keep your head neutral. Do 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 16 reps on each leg. This exercise will target your glutes and quads.
Dumbbell Side Lunge3 of 6
Start with holding a pair of dumbbells to your sides. Before you lunge make sure that your torso is engaged. Start by lunging to your right, keep your chest up and your arms to your sides. As you get into the lunge make sure that your knee and foot are facing the same direction. Return into the starting position and repeat on the opposite leg. Do 3 to 5 sets of 10 to 16 reps total. This exercise will target your glutes and quadriceps.
Deadlift Stiff Leg4 of 6
You can perform this exercise using dumbbells or a barbell. This exercise is great for targeting your hamstring. Start by holding a pair of dumbbells, your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Keeping your knees straight, hinge over at your hips lowing the dumbbells to sides of your feet. Return into the starting position by extending your hips. Make sure you start at a light weight and build gradually into the heavier weights. Do 3 to 5 sets of 5 to 8 reps. This exercise will target your hamstring and lower back.
Barbell Hip Thrust5 of 6
Start seated on the ground with the bench directly behind you. Take the barbell and place it over your legs. Putting a pad over the bar will help reduce any discomfort from the bar. Place the bar directly over your hips. Your shoulders need to be leaning against a bench. Start the movement by driving your feet down through the floor, extend your hips as high as you can. Return into the starting position and repeat. Do 3 to 4 sets of 5 to 10 reps. This exercise will target your glutes and hamstrings.