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Get Strong In The Gym, Ride Faster On The Trail!

In previous blogs we have talked about winter training on the bike, however to get the most out of your “training season” consider adding some time in the gym (specifically weight training) to your plan. For many cyclists out there this may be a new element to your winter training but hopefully this blog will give you an introduction to this part of training and encourage you give it a go.

Building a strong core and upper body will give you more control and stability on the bike as well as allowing you to manoeuvre the bike with more ease which will help when it comes to riding technical terrain. As for your lower body, weight training can allow you to focus on building core muscles and developing power which is essential if you want to rider harder, faster and longer. A well-developed weight session can also help offset muscular imbalance caused by a lot of time cycling and help injury proof your body.

Where to start

Prior to commencing any gym work ensure you are cleared by your doctor to do so and if at any point you feel dizzy, unwell or something doesn’t feel right stop and consult a medical professional.

Now that’s out the way we can continue with getting you stronger.

At the beginning of any weight training plan it is a good idea to know what your Repetition Maximum (RM) is. This is the heaviest load you can complete 1 repetition of safely and correctly for each exercise you intend to perform during your plan. Once you establish this it will help you decide how much weight to use for each session. The weight to use will be a percentage of your RM and will differ with the amount of reps you wish to achieve and the focus of the session.

Focusing the Session

In short weight training sessions for cyclists can be broken down into four progressive categories to focus on:

Anatomical Adaptation (AA)

This is the first stage of weight training and is designed to get the muscles used to lifting weights and prepare them for the heavier loads used in the next phase. During this stage you will improve your general body strength meaning more sets and reps are done although the load is less than other training phases.

Maximum Strength (MS)

The purpose of this phase is to lift heavier loads. This will increase muscular endurance and build strength ready to be turned into power. This phase will have less reps but heavier loads.

Power Endurance (PE)

The purpose of this phase is to convert the raw strength built in the last phase into power and increase your fast twitch muscle fibres allowing you to sprint and accelerate quicker.

Strength Maintenance (SM)

As the name suggests, this is a maintenance phase. Its aim is to keep your current strength and fitness level at a set standard. This is usually implemented in the summer when you are out on the bike more or racing/ competing.

Example Session

The example below is aimed to give you an idea and some inspiration on how a typical gym session might look. The session is an AA weight training one, from the early stages of a mountain bike cross country specific training plan.

Hopefully this has given you some idea on how to incorporate weight and strength training into you winter training plan. If you are keen to find out more, have any questions or wish to have one of our experienced and professional team develop a training plan for you message us at or visit our website

Alternatively, you can purchase our 4-week DIY training strength plan, the “Strength and Sprint” plan, from our Training Peaks Store:

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