Strength Training 101 for Cyclists

Peter Glassford
by Peter Glassford
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Strength Training 101 for Cyclists

It is time to drop our outdated notions of bodybuilders and bicep curls. Strength training is an essential part of high-performance sport and is even more important for the everyday cyclist with a 9-to-5 job and busy family life.

Cyclists have tremendous cardiovascular systems and, generally, a healthy diet. (Those cookie stops on a big ride don’t count, right?) But while cycling is healthy, there is a risk of overdoing endurance training, and that’s where strength training comes in. Strength training serves to boost our general fitness — or ‘work capacity’ — and keeps us healthy longer. One overlooked benefit of strength training is the improvement in movement skill and coordination that can help us avoid injury.


Cyclists new to strength training should start slowly. You don’t have to lift much in the beginning. I have my coaching clients start with a very small amount of training time to make sure it gets done. Usually, this is a 10-minute core routine that kicks things off. If you do it for a month, don’t be surprised if you get addicted to the feeling of getting something done early in the day, while your coffee roasts or your breakfast cooks.



What do those 10 minutes look like? Select exercises that you like already or you have been told to do for rehabbing an injury. Add those to the sample workout below or use the following to get started:

  1. Lay down: On a mat (or carpet), take a moment and scan your body for signs of soreness or tightness. Then take 3 deep breaths with a hand on your belly.
  2. Glute bridges: Perform 10–20 (to progress, do single-leg glute bridges).
  3. Side plank: Roll to your right side, do a side plank.
  4. Pushups: Perform 10 pushups (raise hands on a box to make it easier).
  5. Side plank: Roll to your left side, do a side plank.  
  6. Glute bridges Perform 10–20 (to progress, do single-leg glute bridges).
  7. Pushups Perform 10 more pushups.
  8. Lunges: Perform 10 lunges per leg (if you have knee pain do a split squat by staying in split stance and do all on the right, then all on the left).
  9. Single-leg deadlift:  Hinge forward keeping one leg perpendicular to the floor and your lifted leg in line with your upper body.
  10. Pushups:. Perform 10 more pushups.

Over several months, you can start adding onto this routine. As with any training, the goal is to add just a bit more each time. So add 1 rep, add 5 pounds, add more challenge (i.e., raising feet up for push up). Resist the urge to stay with light exercises or to progress too quickly.

About the Author

Peter Glassford
Peter Glassford

Peter is a cycling coach and registered kinesiologist from Ontario, Canada. He travels frequently to work with athletes at races, camps and clinics. He also races mountain bikes for Trek Canada and pursues adventure in all types of movement. Follow @peterglassford on Twitter, or check out his online and in-person coaching at


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