I have seen a lot of strength training programs for cyclists on the internet, but most of them are of inferior quality. It is evident that many coaches are good at endurance training but lack experience and knowledge about strength training.
Many of these coaches do not know how the neuromuscular system works and how it adapts to weight lifting.
As it turns out, weight lifting gyms are full of potential dangers for cyclists. From the risk of injuries to the temptation to overtrain, there are plenty of things that can go wrong. Here are five of the biggest mistakes that road cyclists make in the weight lifting gym—and how to avoid them
Common mistakes in strength training programs
1. Non-functional exercise
It is essential to know that neuromuscular adaptations are closely related to specific exercises. It would be best to try to do activities that have a movement similar to pedal strokes. Avoid leg extensions and do some quality squats instead.
If you are not injured, it is a waste of time to do leg extensions.
2. Too many exercises
You can train the whole body with only a few different lifts if you do the right exercises.
When you get familiar with strength training, I recommend you start learning the techniques for lifting free weights. I want you to lift free weights because you train more balance and more explosive.
My favorite exercise for cyclists is squat. I agree when other cyclists tell me that squat is king. That exercise will make a difference in your view of strength training.
Before doing some heavy squats, you need supervision to achieve the correct technique. Please be supervised by an instructor or training buddy in the first couple of training sessions.
3. Too few sets
When you were four years old and tried to ride your bike for the first time, you did not try only once to master the discipline. Instead, you tried over and over again. What you did was learn your neuromuscular system how to ride a bike.
You want to adapt your neuromuscular system to lift heavy iron when you lift weights. So, just as you need many attempts to manage your bike, you will take advantage of many sets in the weight lifting gym.
4. Too many reps
When you are a cyclist, you are interested in strength gains, not weight gains. Therefore, I recommend you use a rep range of 3-6. With this rep range, you will develop strength without gaining extra body weight. However, I have seen a lot of programs that would be better for bodybuilders training for hypertrophy, using a rep range of 8-15.
Some coaches believe that building strength endurance in the gym is possible. They recommend sets of up to 100 reps. I’m afraid I have to disagree with these coaches.
If you want to train for strength endurance, you should do it on your bike. Again we are talking about specificity.
5. Train to failure too often
Many cyclists believe in the ‘No Pain, No Gain’ attitude. I like the spirit too, but it is not the best way to increase performance in strength training. Your neuromuscular system does not like failure training, and if you keep doing it, your strength gains will end at a plateau.
I recommend you finish your sets at least 1 or 2 reps from failure. That way, you can stay focused and push yourself further in your next set. You will get more out of your workout this way and make sure to keep your form correct – it will prevent injury and maximize the effectiveness of each exercise.
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment when you’re lifting weights and end up doing too much too soon. This is a recipe for disaster, mainly if you’re not used to lifting weights regularly. When you overtrain, you risk injuring yourself or burning out completely—neither of which is good for your cycling performance.
Rest days are just as important as training days—maybe even more so. When you don’t give your body time to recover from workouts, you increase your risk of injuries and impair your ability to make gains in strength and endurance.
Working out in the weight lifting gym can be a great way to improve your cycling performance—but only if you do it right. Avoid making these five common mistakes so you can lift safely and effectively without jeopardizing your health or hindering your riding ability.
You can find more inspiration for weight lifting for road cyclists here.