Coach Hughes: Cycling Strength Training Legs pt. 1
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Intelligent Training—Training

Developing Leg Strength, Part 1

Strength Training for Century, Brevet and Other Endurance Cyclists

by Coach John Hughes and Coach Dan Kehlenbach

John Hughes and Dan Kehlenbach are the authors of Distance Cycling: Your Complete Guide to Endurance Cycling.
Hughes is the author of Anti-Aging: 12 Ways to You Can Slow the Aging Process He has written 40 articles on training, nutrition, psychology and medical issues for More about Coach Hughes.
Kehlenbach is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association and as an expert level coach with USA Cycling and has a master’s degree in sports medicine.

© John Hughes, All Rights Reserved

Strength training overview for endurance cycling [  Part 1  |  Part 2   ]

Recommended exercises for

  1. Increasing core strength [  Part 1  |  Part 2  ]
  2. Developing leg strength [  Part 1 |  Part 2  ]
  3. Improving muscle balance [  Part 1  |  Part 2 ]
  4. Strengthening connective tissues [  Part 1  |  Part 2 ]
  5. Improving upper body endurance [  Part 1 |  Part 2 ]

Developing Leg Strength
One or two days a week, do an aerobic activity that builds leg strength:

  • riding a road bike, single speed or mountain bike in hilly terrain.
  • hiking, snow shoeing, or back country skiing with a moderately heavy pack.

Two or three days a week, do three sets of 12-20 reps of one of the following strength exercises, which are progressively more difficult. For each of these exercises, the knee of the front leg should remain directly over the ankle - the knee should not go forward in front of the toes, which would place added stress on the knee.

Split Squats: Step two to three feet (60 to 90 cm) forward with your right foot. Lower your left knee toward the floor. Only go down as far as you can without any knee pain and don’t go farther than your right thigh parallel to the floor. Keep your right knee over your ankle, not in front of your foot. Without moving your feet come back up—that’s one rep. Do all your reps lowering your left leg and then switch legs. Strengthens quads, hams, and glutes. Start with no weights, and progress to holding a gallon of water in each hand.
Split Squat

Wall Squats: Stand 12-18 inches away from a wall. Place a soccer/basketball between your lower back and the wall. Bend your knees and, using the ball as a roller, squat down like you're sitting in a chair. Go down until your hip and knee joints form right angles (just like in a chair), then stand back up. Start with no weights, and progress to holding a gallon of water in each hand.
Wall Squat Wall Squat

Step ups: With right leg, step up onto a box or step approximately 12-16 inches high and step back down; step up with left leg and back down. (Both legs = 1 repetition). Wear a backpack full of canned food for added resistance.
Step Up Step Up

Originally printed in UltraCycling