Weight Training For Cyclists: A Total Body Program For Power And Endurance

29 Oct
Weight Training For Cyclists

Weight Training For Cyclists

The majority of cyclists I meet took up the sport to improve their health. There is no question that cycling will improve your aerobic fitness and endurance, but it will very little for upper body fitness. Even if you have no intention of ever participating in a race you still need to engage in some sort of resistance training to improve your sprinting and climbing, as well as increasing your bone density (cyclists have a tendency to develop low bone density). While there are many good books available on developing a weight training program, there are very few that focus on the special needs of cyclists. The best book I’ve read on this topic is Weight Training For Cyclists: A Total Body Program For Power & Endurance, by Ken Doyle and Eric Schmitz.

Some people mistakenly believe that cycling and weight training do not make good partners—they think that building bulk is counterproductive to the goal most cyclists have of being as light as possible. However, without a strong core you are going to have trouble every time you ride! Strong lower back and abdominal muscles are crucial if you want to ride very long in the drops.

Weight Training For Cyclists starts by explaining the pros and cons of the different types of resistance exercise equipment that are available (free weights, resistance machines, and resistance bands). There are also sections on nutrition, safety, efficiency and how to develop a program based on the type of cycling you engage in. As the book observes, most cyclists are their own trainers and set their own training program.

If one paragraph from the book could summarize the premise of the book it would be this: “The main focus of a weight training program should be the lower-body muscle groups that create the force applied to the pedals. This area of the body, often labeled the ‘power zone,’ consists of the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, lower-back muscles, and abdominals and is the fundamental source of strength and power in cycling.”

There are more than 60 exercises described and illustrated in this book. My only criticism of the book is that it focuses too much on pieces of equipment that most cyclists are not going to have at home (back extension bench, high pulley machine, cable row machine, multihip machine, etc.). However, you can still get a great workout with a weight bench, a pair of dumbbells and a few resistance bands.

Weight Training For Cyclists is a 212 page paperback book and retails for $19. It is available on for $12 (and remember you can get free shipping on orders over $25). This book is published by Velo Press.


Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Book Reviews


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23 responses to “Weight Training For Cyclists: A Total Body Program For Power And Endurance

  1. belfebe

    October 29, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    I totally agree. I am a bodybuilder with a biking problem 🙂 There have been times in which my biking training has been nonexistent due to my training for a figure show. I remember being very anxious about riding 30 miles after a couple of months of just resistance and LISS training, and then being pleasantly surprised at being able to sustain the ride with no problem. I can only imagine how the combination of cycling plus resistance can improve a cyclist performance!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 29, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      I am a distance cyclist with a bodybuilding problem. 🙂 Weight lifting does improve my performance (under the proper circumstances). Weight lifting the day before a Century (100 mile) ride is not such a great idea.

      • egonzalez3

        October 29, 2012 at 12:37 PM

        A 100 mile bike ride is a long distance to ride after a previous days work of weight training. Although I have ridden for long distances – 50 to 60 miles. I find incorporating a less intensive workout the day before does not affect my performance. People in general see carbohydrates as a bad thing, but when you are constantly active, your body needs carbohydrates for energy. That said, the night before a long distance bike ride, I get my fill of carbohydrates. In the morning oatmeal and a protein bar to start the day. This practice works for me, because I wake-up with the energy I need, and fuel my mornings bodily needs. Most importantly, I don’t gain the weight some may suggest you will, because of the carbohydrates the night before. The bike ride itself will take care of any of those ominous thoughts.

        • All Seasons Cyclist

          October 29, 2012 at 3:52 PM

          I do load up on carbs a bit the night before a Century ride. Let’s face it — I’ll burn over 5,000 calories during the ride so a few extra carbs the night before isn’t exactly going to hurt.

  2. tischcaylor

    October 29, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Great to see you’re reviewing books now… good move!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 29, 2012 at 10:02 AM

      I actually have a few other book reviews posted (see the “Book Reviews” link to the right). There is also a stack of at least 20 “adventure cycling” type books sitting near my desk — looks like a great winter project.

  3. womencyclists

    October 29, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    I actually did not know cyclists have a problem with low bone density! Thanks for the info!

  4. fitnessgroan

    October 29, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Reblogged this on Fitnessgroan's Blog and commented:
    a good post about a good book for all the cyclists.

  5. sarahsdoodles

    October 29, 2012 at 9:59 PM

    I love that this mentions the importance of strengthening your core for cycling. I’m not huge into cycling, but I do know it’s just like that for running, as well as many other exercise activities! Everyone (myself included) seems to want a six-pack for superficial reasons, but abdominal are crucial for strong performance, too.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 29, 2012 at 10:25 PM

      Cyclists really need strong abs for climbing and off-road rides. Also, staying down in an aerodynamic position on the drops is impossible without strong abs.

  6. joyfitnessandstyle

    October 29, 2012 at 10:54 PM

    You just get it, balance is key to any training program. Nice post.

  7. MG

    October 30, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    Hey, we own that book! I found it to be a good primer, and like how it focuses on various aspects of cross-/weight-training including stretching, explosive action, as well as plyometrics and strength training.

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 30, 2012 at 3:08 PM

      It’s a great book! Velo Press has several other books I am going to review within the next few months.

  8. cdog781

    October 30, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    I don’t have to worry about the low bone density since I’m a multi-sport athlete but I find that very interesting; it had never occurred to me before that this would be an issue for cyclists (or other low impact sport athletes). Thanks for sharing! Your blog seems to be full of useful information!

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 30, 2012 at 7:24 PM

      Thank you so much for visiting here! Please come back again!

      • cdog781

        October 30, 2012 at 7:30 PM

        I definitely will! I may pass your blog on to my coach, Dai Roberts ( He got into cycling when he was injured many years ago and unable to run. I’m sure he’ll appreciate your product reviews, etc.

  9. bamboogirl

    October 31, 2012 at 1:24 AM

    Thank you for posting about such a serious matter. Sadly, my massage therapist’s husband ONLY rode for 30 some odd years and never did any running / jogging / weights so he developed a severely crippling case of osteoporosis. He literally cannot get on a bike anymore or he risks injury and fractures. It definitely puts perspective on weight bearing activities vs always getting on the bike.. Balance is good for your body! (Hey, isn’t that what cross-season is for anyway? :P)

    • All Seasons Cyclist

      October 31, 2012 at 9:44 AM

      That is a very sad, but not uncommon, story! And you are so correct about cross-season!

  10. the drunken cyclist

    November 30, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    Went out and ordered this based on your write up–thanks!


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