Weight training for cyclists should be a year-round routine

Credit: Clive Mason/Allsport
Dear Dr. Burke,

What is the best weight workout a cyclist can do for the legs? I do squats and step-ups, four sets of 12 and progressively increase the weight as I get stronger.

What should a cyclist be trying to accomplish with weights: strength or muscular endurance?



Dear Gary:

Successful performance in cycling demands a combination of muscular endurance, strength and power. While a sport like mountain bike racing requires mostly muscular endurance, strength is needed to climb short steep hills, power your way through streams and sprint at the end of the race.

Because of these requirements, weight training should be part of your yearly training program. You need a more complete weight-training program including upper and lower body exercises to improve your overall strength and endurance.

Here are eight exercises that you use in your program:

  • Seated row
  • Back extension
  • Bench press
  • Crunches
  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Heel raises
  • Step ups

    All eight exercises should be performed during the months of October to February.

    Yearly schedule

    Follow these guidelines to help you build greater climbing strength and fitness during the off-season, then to maintain it through the summer months.

    October to February

    Three days per week; one-to-three sets of 10-to-15 reps. Total workout time will be no more than 45 to 60 minutes with the weights.

    March to May

    Two days per week; one-to-two sets of upper body exercises (back extensions, seated row, abdominal and bench press) of 10-to-15 and one set of lower body exercises (squat, lunges, heel raises and step ups) of 10-to-15 reps. Time in the gym should be about 30 minutes.

    May to September

    One or two days per week; a maintenance program of one set to eight to 12 reps of upper body exercise only. Time in the gym should only be about 15 minutes.

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