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Recently we explored how to improve your cycling efficiency through the use of a strengthening program, specifically for exercises to focus on improving the push phase of your pedal stroke. While knowing what muscles to strengthen and how to strengthen them is important, understanding how to implement this into your current cycling training is just as important to have you firing on all cylinders when you want it the most.
The way strengthening programs are structured is called periodisation, essentially a structured annual plan with changing training variables over time in order to maximise training adaptations and performance. The most common types of periodisation programs are: linear, non-linear and block. The type of periodisation program that will work best for you will depend on your sport and goals. If you are striving towards a single goal for the year (for cycling this could be the 3 peaks challenge in March) both linear and non-linear periodisation programs work best as they build through the phases to peak for a single event. Though if you have multiple events throughout the year (this could mean doing the Cadel Evans ride in February then the next month the 3 Peaks Challenge) block periodisation works best by having individual blocks focusing a particular element of strength training.
Regardless of your goals and type of periodisation you choose, each type follows a similar pattern. The early stages of any strengthening program is often referred to as the adaptation phase aimed to familiarise the athlete with specific movement patterns/exercises through a higher repetition range. This will help to strengthen the muscles, tendons, joints preparing them for higher loads without the risk of producing high amount muscle soreness.
The next phase of periodisation is often referred to as the hypertrophy that is designed to improve the athletes muscle size and thus improving their strength. The key difference is the change in the prescription of the exercises, meaning the athlete will do a lower amount of repetitions allowing them to lift heavier weights. The subsequent phases, referred to as the maximum strength and power phases, can sound daunting though is an essential part of your strengthening program. These phases improve your ability to recruit more muscle fibres and recruit them more efficiently, while teaching the body to use your maximum strength with speed. These qualities can be important for a cyclist who needs a spurt of power and strength to get over a hill or complete a short sprint.
The common fear for endurance athletes is strength training will create an increase in muscle size, causing an increase in weight thus negatively affecting their performance. Though the response within the body from endurance training negates the specific hypertrophy changes from occurring within the muscle. The remaining positive benefits strength training elicits within the muscles are unaffected from endurance training.
If you are a cyclist and currently don’t have a strengthening program to improve your cycling efficiency, then call Pure Physio to book your appointment with Steve today. He will provide a safe, structured and progressive program to help improve your cycling efficiency.
About the Author
Steve Stringer — Rehabilitation Physiotherapist
Steve has a strong interest in running, cycling and triathlons and has recently furthered his studies with completion of a Graduate Certificate in Sports Physiotherapy