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The Best Exercise For Cycling And Mountain Biking Performance

EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman discussed the best exercise for cycling and mountain biking that will improve training and race performance.

Video Transcription:

The Best Strength Training Exercises For Cycling And Mountain Biking

Good morning, family of fast. Matt Mosman, the Chief Endurance Officer over at EndurElite. I hope all you dads out there had an awesome Father's Day. I know what it takes to balance work, family, and still put in the grind to get your workouts in and whatnot. So I respect the hell out of all of you.

But anyways, I have a question for you today and that is, what is the best exercise to improve your cycling performance? Now, this is kind of a trick question, honestly.

If You Want To Be A Better Cyclists Or Mountain Biker, Ride More Or Ride Harder

The single best exercise you can do to improve cycling performance is to cycle more, cycle harder, but all within a well-designed training program, that's periodized, that gradually increases duration and intensity. And this will make you a better cyclist. But again, I said this is kind of like a trick question.

What Are The Best Strength Training Exercises For Cyclists And Mountain Bikers?

What is the single best exercise in the gym to improve cycling performance? And again, this is a little bit of a trick question. There is no single best exercise to improve cycling performance that you can do in the gym. But there are a variety of different exercises that you can do that will improve your cycling performance. 

Now, most of this is based on the research, I know some people are probably gonna call me out and debate with me what the best exercises to do are for the gym. But as a cyclist, you wanna be able to increase your muscular power, your strength, your endurance, which is mostly related to lower body in cycling, but also you wanna prevent fatigue from happening in the upper body. And all these things can be improved by strength training.

Deadlift, Squat, Bench Press, Pull Ups, Shoulder Press, Planks

So my recommendations for the best exercises to do to improve cycling performance would be, one, the deadlift. Two, a squat. Three, the bench press. Four, some sort of lat pulldown that will hit your upper back musculature, and then dumbbell shoulder presses, and then some sort of exercise for the lower back and the abdomens like planks or crunches. 

Now, I like this type of workout because they're quick, they're easy, they're compound exercises, they hit multiple muscle groups and, you know, I can go in the gym two to three times a week, knock out these workouts in 30 to 35 minutes and get a good response from it in terms of increasing those things I talked about before like muscular power, endurance, preventing injuries, all those good things. And like I said, a lot of these exercises, especially the deadlift and squat actually have a ton of research behind them in cyclists showing that anywhere from a four to 12 weeks strength training program can improve all those areas of cycling performance like increasing muscular power, strength, endurance, you know, getting less likely to get injured, things of that nature. 

What Type Of Strength Training Program Should Cyclists And Mountain Bikers Use?

So, as a cyclist, you know, what kind of program do you wanna follow if you wanna use these exercises? Well, my personal opinion, this is what I will do. I will come in two times a week. Out of one of the days of the week, I will do anywhere from three to four sets of eight to 12 reps at about 75% of my repetition max one day, which is more of like a hypertrophy type program, you know, but you don't really have to worry like if you're cycling or running a lot or more specifically cycling for this video, it's gonna take a heck of a lot for you to put on muscle mass unless you're eating a ton of calories and protein. So that's one day. And then the other day I will do a pure like strength program where we're looking at six or less reps, anywhere from three to four sets, heavyweights anywhere from 85% to 94% [SP] of one repetition max and long rest periods. 

Now, you probably been told your whole life as an endurance athlete, you should do high reps, low weight, little rest, to improve muscular endurance. And I mean, that's all fine and good. But I am a believer, and the research supports this, that the heavier weights is gonna be more beneficial for you as a cyclist because it's gonna help improve your strength to weight ratio which is very, very, very important, in my personal opinion, when it comes to cycling performance. So that's kind of what my schedule looks like.

Why Older Cyclists And Mountain Bikers Should Lift Weights

So what I also wanna add as an endurance athlete as you get older, you're definitely gonna wanna incorporate strength training into your program. Again, probably about two days a week, and this is just to help prevent something called sarcopenia which is the loss of muscle mass as you age. So if you strength train as you get older, two days a week, you're gonna be able to extend, you know, good performances compared to somebody that doesn't strength train, in my humble opinion. And again, this is supported by the research. 


So, that is all I have for today. I should also mention that we have a strength training program for cyclists on the EndurElite website developed by Kellan Anderson. It's more of an off-season strength training program about 12 weeks or so that you can utilize in the off-season, and then you could also utilize in the in-season too. So, I hope you all have an awesome, awesome Monday. If you aren't strength training yet get your butt in the gym. If you have zero experience with strength training, definitely, you know, speak to a qualified individual first so they can teach you the proper way to do the exercises, and then also to build up to maybe some of these more complex lifts and heavier weights so you don't get your ass hurt. All right, my endurance friends, now I'm done. Until next time, stay fueled, stay focused, stay fast, and stay informed.

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