To compete in cycling races, you need a strong, conditioned pair of legs. Check out the gams on any competitive cyclist and you'll see bulging quads and chiseled calves. While riding is an essential component of developing leg strength for racing, there's a lot more that goes into crafting powerhouse legs than simply pedaling your bike.
Perform a variety of cycling workouts on the bike each week, including high intensity intervals. For the time-strapped, high-intensity interval training is paramount for developing the leg strength to race. The length of intervals can be set times or distances. For example, you could perform intervals comprised of two minutes of maximal effort followed by three minutes of recovery. Alternatively, you could do a half mile sprint followed by a one mile recovery. Create interval workouts that correlate with your training goals.
Integrate weight lifting into your training plan. Resistance training is a powerful tool for increasing leg strength and stamina. To increase muscular endurance, perform exercise sets that include15 to 20 repetitions. For explosive power and strength, low-repetitions sets of six to eight are best. Combine compound lower-body exercises such as squats, deadlifts and lunges with isolation exercises like leg extensions and leg curls to maximize your workouts.
Eat a nutritious diet of whole foods that includes lean proteins, fresh produce and whole-grains. Your optimal macronutrient ratio will vary depending on your training, fitness level and physiology, so there is no perfect prescription that will work for everyone. For distance athletes, carbohydrate requirements are approximately 5 to 10 grams per kilogram of body weight. Protein requirements are around 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. Use fat in moderation to make up the remainder of your calorie requirements. Eat small meals throughout the day to keep a steady stream of nutrients coming in.
Get adequate rest each night. Recovery is just as important as training for building your leg strength and endurance. According to the Better Sleep Council, the average person needs seven to eight hours of sleep each night. However, some people, including athletes, may need up to 10. If your training is intense and you don't feel like you're fully recovering from workouts, it might be an indication that you need closer to 10 hours of sleep.
- Bicycling.com: Race-Ready In Six Hours a Week
- Journal of Physiology; A Practical Model Of Low-Volume High-Intensity Interval Training Induces Mitochondrial Biogenesis In Human Skeletal Muscle: Potential Mechanisms; Jonathan P. Little et al.
- Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports; Effects of Resistance Training On Endurance Capacity And Muscle Fiber Composition In Young Top-Level Cyclists; P. Aagaard et al.
- BikeRadar.com: Resistance Training For Cyclists
- Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research; Combining Explosive And High-Resistance Training Improves Performance In Competitive Cyclists; Carl Patton and William Hopkins
- The Better Sleep Council: Sleep FAQ
- Muscle & Strength: Women's Body Bible: Training, Diet & Supplementation!
- Consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise or diet plan.
- To avoid over-training, limit leg workouts to twice per week.
Jessica Bell has been working in the health and fitness industry since 2002. She has served as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. Bell holds an M.A. in communications and a B.A. in English.