Strength is defined by your ability to apply force to an external resistance. For cyclists, that resistance is the pedals. The stronger you are, the harder you can drive them down.
You can get a leg up on your competition through plyometric training. Plyometrics are exercises that work on explosiveness. They are done in short intervals with plenty of rest in between sets. But don't think of these exercises as a way to improve your "cardio" by taking very short rest breaks in between sets. You improve your cardio by sitting in the saddle and mashing the pedals day in and day out.
Remember two key factors when it comes to plyometric training. First, you can only improve your sprinting speed by a small percentage. When it comes to being fast, the cycling gods either blessed you or they didn't. Second, if you are in the category of "over the hill," your connective tissue just isn't the same as it used to be. The risk of injury goes up with age.
Plyo training can be fun, and it's always nice to have a new training variable in the mix. Use caution when you implement these exercises into your routine, though. If you don't feel safe or you are unsure that you can execute an exercise, don't do it. Strength training is a safer and better long-term approach to cycling and health.
Squat Jump1 of 6
Get into an athletic stance with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees bent. Jump straight up, extending your arms over your head. Land gently, reset your body position and repeat the exercise.
3 sets, 5 to 8 reps
Tuck Jump2 of 6
Get into an athletic stance with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees bent. Jump straight up and bring your knees towards your chest. Land gently, reset your body position and repeat the exercise.
3 sets, 5 to 8 reps
Lunge with Hop3 of 6
Start by stepping back with your right foot, performing a reverse lunge. The majority of your body weight should be on your left leg. In one movement, bring your right knee forward and jump into the air. Land gently on both feet, reset and repeat the exercise.
2 sets, 5 to 8 reps on each leg
Long Jump Get into4 of 6
Get into an athletic stance with your feet shoulder-width apart, now crouch down into a deep squat position with your arms behind you. Next, explode forward, landing softly on both feet with your knees bent. Reset and repeat.
2 to 3 sets, 4 to 8 reps
Plyo Push-Up5 of 6
We can't forget the upper body! Get yourself into a push-up position. Tighten your entire torso and lower yourself towards the floor. Now explosively push your body back up into the air. Land in the starting position, take a few seconds to relax and then get yourself ready to perform another rep.
2 to 3 sets, 2 to 5 reps