Do you love cycling, want more strength in your legs, but don’t feel like lifting weights in the weight room? Then try low cadence for your next bike workout.
Cyclists need strength in their legs, that’s for sure. But unless you’re a sprinter who needs to develop tremendous power in the finish or an explosive cyclist who can shake off his competitors with a quick attack, you don’t need ultra-voluminous thighs, but rather muscles that can deliver the highest possible wattage over a longer period of time. Which, in turn, doesn’t require you to do maximal strength and/or speed training in the weight room.
You can do a strength endurance training well 1:1 in practice on the bike. Strength endurance is when you can move resistance on the bike or exercise bike at maximum effort for longer than 90 to 120 seconds. The winter months are great for strength endurance training – not only outdoors, but also on the roller.
After a short warm-up over 5-10 minutes, start with 3 to 5 minutes and slow 50 rpm. You usually have to practice this change regarding cadence, because normally you pedal at frequencies of around 80-100 rpm on the flat, and around 70-80 rpm on the inclines. Resistance during strength endurance training should correspond to a perceived intensity of 80 percent of your possible maximum power, strictly but not maximally.
The first block is followed by an active break of 3 to 5 minutes and very relaxed and fast pedaling, preferably without resistance. You can repeat this short program 2 to 3 times and steadily increase the length of the power endurance unit up to 10 minutes with 40 to 60 revolutions alternating with 10 minutes of relaxed pedaling each. You can also increase the load intensity and ride the blocks with a low number of revolutions with maximum possible resistance. Outdoors, such a workout requires a longer, steady but not too steep incline, which takes you about 5 to 10 minutes. By the way, such workouts also promote strength in the upper body, since you are sitting and have to stabilize the bike with your upper body.
Depending on your performance level, you can implement such a strength unit 1 to 2 times a week. In spring, these units are often done on the mountain, so that you can ride up a slope for 20 minutes at a low number of revolutions. The closer you get to touring or even racing, the less you work on your strength endurance, because although these sessions give you power, they also make the muscles a little sluggish, which is to the detriment of your spryness. Accordingly, in spring, following the period of strength endurance training, faster units with sprints and intervals are also required.
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