I guess with any sport there are many opinions on the 'best' way to train. In this way, cycling is no different. And, when it comes to weightlifting, the opinions can be polar opposites depending how traditional you are. The traditionalist are usually against weightlifting, siting that it ruins your pedal stroke and cyclists don't need the extra bulk in muscles and the newer guard accepting weightlifting as pertinent training for cycling.
My opinion, I am strongly for year round weight/conditioning for cycling. But as always, the type of weight training depends on the type of riding on which you focused.
In an article by Kristen Gustafson of Rasmussen College, " 5 Benefits of Weight Training", she states that weight training:
- increases physical work capacity
- improves bone density
- promotes fat-free body mass
- strengthens connective tissues of the muscles, bones, and tendons
- can improve quality of live
I can't see anything in this list that won't benefit a cyclist. Especially us racers with limited time during the week that have families, jobs, and/or go to school. Weight training can make up for a some of that 'not riding' that you are doing.
Trackies: If you are a track racer, sprinters especially, weight training is probably a must. Simply put, you have to have the muscle to put down the speed. Lower reps and higher weights will be the trend for you. You'll probably weight train most all of the year. Squats and free weights have been a staple for the sprinter, but you'll find a lot of racers, especially amateur and novice, using machines for the added safety.
Long Endurance track (mass start) racers probably won't lift as much, but will still benefit, but the pursuiters definitely will weight train.
Roadies: Would probably only lift in the off-season, lighter weights with lots of reps for these folks. Most road riding is done sub-maximal and the focus is not on explosive movement, but general strength.
BMXers/MTBers/CXers would definitely benefit from weight training because of the many explosive movements in their racing.
As always, get coaching if you are not aware of the proper techniques etiquette and safety protocols in the weight room.
There are many books out there that give excellent advice and workouts for the weight training cyclists but bare in mind all the general rules-of-thumb for weight training.
- get medically cleared before starting a program and be careful of previous injuries
- get a coach or professional advice
- stick with your program and keep records
- set goals
- choose exercises that benefit your discipline of the sport
- Warm up and stretch before starting
- don't over do it at the beginning if you aren't used to the rigor of the exercises.
- and...don't skip your scheduled rest days.
Pump Iron and Ride Faster/Further.