Every four years, track cycling gets a boost of publicity as the Olympics feature these single-gear sprinters zooming around the velodrome. You may have caught some of the races on TV and decided a few track laps might make a fun alternative to road racing. Powering the bike at a high cadence requires explosive strength -- making a lifting routine an important aspect of track cycling training.
Squats, deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts work on your lower back and upper legs, the dynamo that powers your track cycling. Paul Rogers, the strength coach for the Australian National Sprint Cycling Team -- dominant in track cycling -- also recommends the single-leg press as a “bread-and-butter” exercise. Look to attain high weight and low reps: Some of Australia’s female track cyclists attain three reps of 80 kilograms, or 175 pounds. This level of strength provides good power on standing-start races. You can also perform single-leg hops on boxes and stairs, as well as single-leg squats and deadlifts. Rogers recommend single-leg versions over two-legged variations to increase independent leg strength for pedaling.
Your core obtains a spectacular workout doing a single-leg squat, Rogers notes, expressing skepticism about the value of exercise balls or Pilates to sports training in general and track cycling in particular. If you want more core work, go for plain old situps and abdominal crunches, advise the authors of “The Ultimate Ride.”
You need a powerful grip on the handlebars for your starts. Upper-body exercise, a mix of pushing and pulling lifts, can help you achieve strength here. The bench press, triceps press and overhead press can fit the bill for pushing exercises, while the bent-over row, biceps curl and upright row qualify as pulling exercises, “The Ultimate Ride” notes.
Strength training can be part of your routine three times a week, with a rest day between each workout, or two days a week if you have less time available. It has been said that “a track sprinter is a weightlifter who also rides a bike,” notes Northern California-based racer Mark Rodamaker, so spend whatever time you can on the weights. Rogers has his Australian riders spend either two or three days a week on their lifting routines, with three to four sets of each rider’s three-rep maximum.
An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.