Unlocking Your Cycling Potential: The Power of Strength Training

How to Get Better at Cycling: A Symphony of Strength and Precision

Cycling isn’t just a sport; it’s a symphony of strength, endurance, power, and precision. If you’re an experienced cyclist looking to boost your performance during the long winter season, consider adding strength and power training to get better at cycling.

The Intersection of Strength and Cycling

To elevate your cycling prowess, combining resistance training with aerobic conditioning is key. But many highly trained endurance cyclists wonder: Does strength and power training truly enhance their performance? Meticulous and purposeful planning holds the answer.

Benefits of Resistance Training for Cyclists

Resistance training offers numerous benefits, such as improved motor unit recruitment, muscle growth, and faster force development rates. These adaptations allow muscles to generate more force to drive the pedals. This increased force lets cyclists produce more power during challenging hill climbs and intense sprints. Moreover, muscles can achieve these force values faster, leading to more force during each pedal stroke.

Energy Production and Endurance

Strength training doesn’t just increase force; it also impacts energy production and endurance. After strength training,  anaerobic capacity improves, allowing for longer sprinting bouts due to the growth of larger type 2 muscle fibers. Resistance training also strengthens efficient type 1 muscle fibers. This means cyclists can delay using fatigue-prone type 2 fibers, improving cycling economy, or efficiency. A better cycling economy allows for a faster pace or energy conservation for end-of-ride sprints.

Worried about resistance training affecting your endurance? Studies show that combining resistance and endurance training, when done right, can even boost the percentage of VO2 max used during cycling due to a better cycling economy.

Injury Prevention through Strength Training

Another perk of strength training is injury prevention. Stronger muscles can handle more force and experience less strain during regular activities. A well-rounded strength training program also corrects muscle imbalances from repetitive training.

Crafting the Perfect Strength Training Regimen

If you’re adding resistance training to your cycling routine, planning and precision matter. Simply adding resistance exercises might not give the results you want. It could even lead to fatigue or no performance gains. Cyclists can see significant improvements through power and moderate to heavy strength training. This involves lifting heavier loads with fewer reps, incorporating olympic lifts, and adding plyometrics. The key is choosing exercises specifically for cyclists and carefully adjusting your exercise volume. For instance, heavy olympic lifts like the clean target the quadriceps’ power development. This program would use heavy loads, focusing on rapid force development, with shorter repetition schemes and longer rest periods.

Remember, you might not see immediate performance gains from strength training. Research indicates you might need at least 8 weeks of training for noticeable results.

Connect with Experts at Connect Physiotherapy & Exercise

As you strive to become a better cyclist, remember the importance of a well-designed training program. If you need expert advice on enhancing your cycling performance, Connect Physiotherapy & Exercise in Edmonton is here for you virtually and in-person. We can help achieve your cycling goals with a customized strength training program tailored to your needs, unlocking new levels of power and endurance for your cycling journey.

Gear up for a ride towards enhanced performance!


Vikmoen, O., Rønnestad, B. R., Ellefsen, S., & Raastad, T. (2017). Heavy strength training improves running and cycling performance following prolonged submaximal work in well-trained female athletes. Physiological Reports, 5(5). https://doi.org/10.14814/phy2.13149

Vikmoen, O., & Rønnestad, B. R. (2021). A comparison of the effect of strength training on cycling performance between men and women. Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology, 6(1), 29. https://doi.org/10.3390/jfmk6010029

Yamamoto, L. M., Klau, J. F., Casa, D. J., Kraemer, W. J., Armstrong, L. E., & Maresh, C. M. (2010). The effects of resistance training on road cycling performance among highly trained cyclists: A systematic review. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(2), 560–566. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e3181c86583 

Ruben San Martin Headshot
Ruben San Martin

Ruben, MScPT, CSCS, NCCP Level 1 Olympic Weightlifting, is a physiotherapist uniquely blending research expertise in applied anatomy with a certified strength and conditioning coach background. Specialized in manual therapy, back disorders, exercise, and osteoarthritis, he is also a certified Olympic weightlifting coach. Prioritizing exercise therapy and hands-on manual techniques, Ruben emphasizes client education for active engagement and informed recovery. His writing aims to help clients return to an active lifestyle, optimize performance, and prevent injuries.