With 16yrs of racing experience, and another 7 as a cycling coach, I've witnessed the transformative impact of strength training on cyclists, propelling them towards peak performance during the race season. In this article, we'll explore the significance of incorporating strength training into a cyclist's build-up to race season, shedding light on how to seamlessly integrate these workouts, what aspects to focus on, and the most compelling reasons for their inclusion.
Understanding the Role of Strength Training for Cyclists:
While the essence of cycling lies in endurance and aerobic capacity, overlooking the benefits of strength training would be a disservice to the ambitious cyclist. Strength training serves as the secret weapon in the arsenal, offering a myriad of advantages that directly translate to improved performance on the bike.
Why Strength Training Matters:
The incorporation of strength training into a cyclist's build-up to race season is not merely a supplement; it's a strategic investment in enhanced performance and overall well-being. By understanding the profound impact on power output, endurance, injury prevention, core stability, and energy transfer, cyclists can embrace strength training as an integral component of their training regimen. Balancing periodization, consistency, and personalized programming is the key to unlocking the full potential of strength training for cyclists and paving the way to success on the racecourse.
After Nationals, the Bear Development U23 squad went straight up to Boston for the last round of the US Cup circuit, the Boston Rebellion. The race was ranked a UCI HC, so there were a lot of points on the line. Additionally, with both the XC and STXC events attracting talented pro fields, the racing was sure to be good!
The weekend kicked off with the XC on Saturday, however, while pre-riding on Friday, I went down and hit my head pretty hard. Of course, I was wearing a helmet, but the hit left me feeling out of it and with a headache. I cut the pre-ride short, kept a close eye out for symptoms of a concussion, and decided to make the final call on whether I'd race Saturday morning. My head felt normal the morning of the race, so I decided I'd go ahead and race.
The race was flat and twisty with plenty of exposed roots; passing was difficult for most of the lap. This meant the start was especially crucial... Ultimately, the start was chaotic as usual and I was stuck behind quite a bit of traffic in the woods. Most of the day was spent fighting back to the front, with only the last couple laps being more tactical racing. I ended up 5th on the day, snagging some good UCI points.
Short track was a lot more open, but still flat, meaning that the race was far more tactical. From my experience last year, I knew that the one separating feature was a mid-lap, flat rock garden, so I worked to stay at the front of the race to ensure I'd be clear of trouble in the rocks. This worked well, but I ended up lacking the last lap punch to make it higher than 5th on the day - where I would finish again.
Overall, it was a good weekend and served much needed redemption after last years race there. Happy to have a few more UCI points, too!
Luke Vrouwenvelder - Head coach at lukeVcoaching and pro cyclist based in Charlottesville, VA