How To Improve Your Strength On The Bike


– In this video, we’re gonna show you three great ways to improve
your strength on the bike. (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) – We all want to be stronger, right? But what does that actually mean? – Well, the technical
definition of strength is your ability to carry
out work against resistance. Strength is the maximum force
we can apply against a load, which in our case, is
provided by the pedals. We can train to improve our strength by increasing the resistance
against which we work. – But how does that help us on the bike? Well, it’s all about
increasing your ability to cope with situations where
you need extra strength, like, for example, short, sharp climbs, or sprints, or even at its most basic, accelerating out of corners. – With this in mind, we
need to focus primarily on exerting force against the pedals. More force than would normally be required over the duration of a ride, but for shorter periods. So, intervals it is then. – That’s right. This is gonna hurt. – But luckily for us,
the terrain here in Amman is ideal for these intervals, boasting a combination
of short, steep climbs and miles and miles of rolling roads. (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) – There are few different
types of strength that we can train on the bike. But for now, I think we should
get going with my favorite. The short, sharp, agonizing,
explosive efforts. – That sounds horrible, Chris. Why don’t you show us how it’s done? These efforts will specifically help focus on the maximum force you
can produce in small bursts. A good sprinter, for example, like Chris, can produce more force than
your typical family car. Now they’re not necessarily about building more muscle tissue but about optimizing the way
you use what you already have. Neuromuscular training, basically. You’ll need 10 to 15 minutes
of warmup and some big gears, a flat road or an uphill drag, but definitely not for downhill. And you’ll need at least 30 seconds of clear road ahead of you. Then it’s time to start your efforts. Seated or standing, it
doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that you start slow and give it absolutely everything. Aim to start just a little
faster than walking pace and in a really big gear. Now this really is 10 out of 10 on the perceived exertion scale, so you’re really gonna have to go for it. The sprint effort should
never feel comfortable and after 20 to 30 seconds, you’re gonna find the
quality’s dropping off so at that point, you should stop. – Yeah, and you’ll need a
really good recovery period. Around 10 minutes for a
close to full recovery. But, if you are pushed for time, somewhere between four and six minutes could work well for you. Six of these efforts is really enough. After all, it is the
quality and not the quantity that we’re aiming for. – Yep. Now make sure you recover well and you’ll really have a
very beneficial session under your belt. Another advantage, of course,
is that you can include this as part of a longer
ride, if you’ve got time. And you can do these
efforts seated or standing. The choice really is yours. Isn’t that 10 minutes, mate? – Oh no. – You gotta go, come on! (man groans)
Go, go, go, go, go! (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) – So then, moving on to
the slightly longer effort, and I’m often torn between the
durations to use for these, but today we’re gonna do two minutes. You could, of course, make
them three if you’d like. – Now again, you wanna
go uphill if possible. Around a 10% gradient would be ideal. But you could do them on
a flat into a headwind or even over-geared with the brakes on. And these efforts are
ideal for replicating the short, sharp climbs
you find in some races. Like, for example, Flèche
Wallonne, Ronde van Vlaanderen. Ouch. – Yeah, I agree. Start a cadence of around
50 reps per minute. So you’ll really need a big gear for that, one that you’re not likely to accelerate too quickly from that. You’ll really need to
force the pedals around. The feeling you’re
looking for in your legs isn’t dissimilar to if you were doing really quite heavy squats. Only that feeling is to be
maintained for two minutes. Or, on a scale of perceived exertion, around 9 1/2 to 10, because, after all, we
now know that anything under a three minute effort
is pretty much maximal anyway. (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) By this point, you’ll no doubt be feeling that deep muscle burn and
looking forward to your recovery. – Yep, definitely. Now six minutes is about
the kind of recovery you want for this kind of effort. And once again, you can put them into a longer or shorter ride if you want. – Yep. And the golden number
of efforts to do is six. Slightly lower intensity than the previous efforts we discussed, but because of that, you
could do them longer. (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) Then we move on to the longer efforts. And these are my least
favorite, if I’m honest. But hey, they are beneficial, too. These will be targeting
your strength endurance. So, think long climbs or long
exposed crosswind sections. – Now I don’t like these
kinds of efforts either, but I do like them slightly
more than the short efforts, which I really, really don’t like. – So the 10-minute efforts,
ideally done on a climb, or if you’re on a flat, into a headwind. Assume a good racing
position, tie on your shoes, and away you go. (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) – Now 10 minutes is an
uncomfortably long time to spend in such a low gear. But do stick with it
because it will really help with your pedaling efficiency
and muscle recruitment, which in turn, will help to
build your muscular endurance. As with the other efforts,
a recovery period afterwards is essential. And ideally, you would do
this at around 100 to 110 RPM for a good one to three minutes, followed by a further few minutes of a cadence that is more natural to you. That way, you’re straight
back into using your muscles in the correct way to
pedal quickly on the bike. – If you are a beginner, you want to aim for two times 10 minutes of these efforts. If a more advanced rider was doing them, three times 15 or even four times 15. – Four by 15? – Four by 15! And you wanna aim for around 7 1/2 to 8 on the perceived exertion scale or if you use power meter, a
good high end of zone three. After these sessions, I
would almost always recommend an easy day as that
would enable your muscles to recover stronger. And it’s when we’re recovering that all the good work is done. Something like a light 30 to
60 minutes would be ideal. – Yes, indeed. Now don’t forget to give
this video a thumbs up if you liked it. Share it with your friends who
need a little more strength. And if you’d like to see some
more great training videos shot out in Amman, click down here.

92 Replies to “How To Improve Your Strength On The Bike”

  1. Never thought of Belgium as being like Oman before but "short sharp climbs and miles and miles of rolling terrain" kind of sums up the riding here too. So, just take away the heat, sun and the desert but then add the wind, rain and the cold and you'd make Oman into Belgium!

  2. 1:31 Emma says a good sprinter can produce more force than a small family car. Hyperbole given 2000 watts is well short of the 100kw or 100,000watts a small family car will produce….

  3. great video.But 10 minutes is really necessary to recover from a sprint?I think that 2,3 minutes is enough,what u guys think

  4. I love intervals and get excited when I find a new climb to torture myself on. This got me thinking…
    Is the psychology of a cyclist different from other athletes in this regard?

  5. I started on the bike with a 50 watt ftp and only doing 5 miles , now I can hold 100 watts and travel at most 50 miles . (6 months into cycling)

  6. In my many years of cycling, I think that I have found the most manageable, predictable and measureable answer to improving strength and hence being able to cope with more and more resistance. On a smart trainer just increase the ftp setting 5 watts over about 12 days of consistent training,with effective ftp improving sessions, like ftp overs and unders, 2 x20 ftp sessions and sweet spot sessions. These push your limits on every session completed, with enough rest and sleep between every session, leaving the body the ability to adapt, the rest time to adapt between sessions is specific to the athletes age and current state of fitness. Strength and ftp will increase, if your body is capable of the adaption by this method. To my mind, this method is exactly the same as if you were in the gym weight training, increasing weight size as you progress but exactly cycle specific. I find Zwift, in erg mode, the best tool for this job.

  7. Emma is wrong about a sprinter putting out more force than a typical family car, my Nissan leaf puts out an instantaneous power of 80,000 watts, I am sure that there is no cyclist alive capable of that power. Power equals force x velocity. As a reference Peter Sagan's max power in stage three in the tour de swiss, was a max power of 1420 watts. This equates to 1/56 th of my Nissan Leaf. If she is mistakenly talking about torque, the max recorded torque of a human sprinter is about 112 newton metres, my Nissan leaf puts out 320 newton metres instantaneously, more than 3 times as much. Emma's statement did not contain the terms power to weight or torque to weight.

  8. Some High school Physics for this vid: Force = (power x time)/displacement or power/velocity Then Power = (force x displacement)/time or force x velocity, and Torque is force with rotation.

  9. To save anyone else commenting on Emmas force quote. It was my idea, but also the crank torque of a top sprinter is higher than the crank torque of a family car. However, we all know that torque at the wheels is what actually counts in the real world and yes, a car has more of that!

  10. Anyone out there find a good spot to dock sunglasses on the Valegro helmet? I see Emma and Chris don't have a great solution for this either. I previously had the Protone and could easily dock glasses on the front. GCN help!

  11. I'd be interested to hear thoughts on heavy barbell training for cycling, primarily low back squats and deadlifts. #askgcn since I have about 35 minutes lunchtime weights access

  12. So a bit of topic as far as this video goes….I am 16 years old,male around 170cm tall and 57kg…..It's been nearly one year since i took up cycling,but i look quite skinny and as a teenager I worry about my looks a quite a lot,I thought about working out my upper body so that I look better,so will I be able to become a successfull cyclist if i also have a pretty nice looking upper body?Ohh and by the way I love cycling…If anyone can plz help me…..

  13. Good video. What I've never understood is how training for strength improves stamina, and how does training for stamina improve strength? Is there a correlation, (there must be?) and can these developments be expressed on a graph?
    Or, in simple terms, if you train for match sprinting, how much would your 25 mile TT improve (sorry, this is theoretical, who on earth wants to chew bar tape) or if you trained for a 25 mile TT, could you get under 13 seconds for 200m?

  14. Hello. This is so confused it's unclear where to start.

    What you are training here is definitely not "maximum strength," which is defined as a one rep maximum: the level of resistance required to max out your lower body muscles cannot be attained on a bicycle. What you seem to be training in the first example is "strength endurance," consisting of doing an exercise with a resistance that you can maintain for up to about 20 repetitions. Therefore, at 60rpm, this corresponds to about the 20 seconds you mention. What counts is pedal repetitions, not time.

    As is well known in exercise physiology, resistance training which is significantly over 20 repetitions is mostly aerobic training. As a general example, if you can do a maximum of 5 pushups, you will need to develop strength endurance to attain 25 pushups. However, if you can do 100 pushups, then you will not need to develop much more strength to do 1000 pushups, just aerobic endurance. In order to train your strength endurance, you will need to do weighted pushups to increase resistance. Therefore, all the longer training intervals you present are mostly aerobic training and are inefficient for training strength endurance.

    Your statement that strength is required for exiting corners is incorrect, unless you are referring to fixed gear races. On a bicycle with gears, you can exit a corner faster with less strength by choosing a lower gear to exit a corner and pedal at a higher cadence.

    This video actually concerns how to produce power at lower cadence.

    -ilan

  15. Was already doing something similar to this. Now I feel more confident it'll give results. I like having a strong pace uphill, but I wanna be able to accelerate hard as well. Besides, my out of the saddle form can always use improvement. Less of going all over the place or having very uneven right versus left leg pedal strokes.

  16. Kind of curious to your methods GCN.
    You want to build strength and stamina yet your are riding light weight bikes.
    Why not make use of a non aero steel framed bike. That to me makes more sense.

  17. I was amused watching this video. It stresses doing exactly what I did when I started cycling last spring. I would hit a short hill and attack it grinding in the hardest possible gear. I exhausted myself in the first minute or two. I am told that what I did is pretty common for old timers like me who hadn't ridden a bike in decades and originally learned grinding away on old heavy cruiser bikes that were popular with kids in the days before multiple gears and rim brakes. In short it is a throw back to the time when equipment wasn't nearly as good and cycling wasn't nearly as much fun. 🙂

  18. He used to speak so fast it was hard to understand. His vocal cadence has slowed, hers has sped up….starting at 3:13…wha…

  19. Go for a ride until you are beat. Then do Squats, to the point of failure. Then eat 2 to 3 grams of protein for every kilo of bodyweight to recover. Repeat once healed up in a few days. It works. The gym where I am has a squat press machine. I got the membership for this machine specifically. I also use the calf machine. My times have improved exponentially.

  20. The best way to improve power on a bicycle is to LIFT WEIGHTS! Heavy squats or leg presses, lunges, calf raises etc. I do it once a week and I'm far stronger on the bicycle than times I have not lifted weights with my legs.

  21. I started cycling 1st August this year. I haven’t done an FTP test as I can’t afford the equipment, I’m 17. Strava says I average about 110-130w per ride which is like 45km in 1h 30. I aim to start competing when I’m not a junior which is in 2020 🙂
    Hopefully I will be up to scratch by then 🙂
    Still got a long way to go until I reach 25mph currently at 18mph after 4 months.

  22. It helps more to lose clippy pedals. My optimal weight is 235 pounds. Lower you seat about 31/2 inches. Go with a high gear. Stay seated, you'll see why when pick up speed. Make sure your feet stay pointed foward. Stand when going up hill. You will notice tdf strong final sprinters dont sprint the same. At speed, they use a different muscle group which is how you can get a much shorter recovery time. On a fixie mine is about a quarter mile. Dont forget to breath expanding your chest cavity. Dont supplement because your ligaments will need time to adjust to the muscle growth. One of the gcn guys past me on the canal trail in CT USA a while going opposite directions. Sup.

  23. Thanks GCN, I appreciate your expertise. Would you our some of the other viewers please comment on one of my strength training workouts?
    1600m
    8-10% grade
    6 reps in 50 minutes
    Summary: I ride up the 1600m hill as hard as I can, usually have HR 168-170BPM
    2 min recovery, then fly down the hill and start over.

    Does anyone think this is useful or am I waisting my time?

  24. The Reality Is You Born. To Be a Good Cyclist No Body Can Teach You To Be Good One. I am Very Good For Climbing. No Body Teach Me Just Iam Good Climber. Simple Like That If Your Not Good Your Not Good

  25. What's she going on about. The only time she should be on a bike is to go to the shops to get a man his food for dinner. She should stick to what she knows, housework.

  26. Is nobody going to say cross-train by weightlifting? Maybe cyclists wouldn't be so afraid of an arm pump either if they actually had some muscle. Ever hear what Arnold Schwarzenegar had to say about the pump?

  27. I am a swimmer (masters,43 years old) My event is the 50m breaststroke, but I also swim the 100m and the 200m.

    I commute to work in bike. I got a cheap mountain bike.

    The bike really may improve my leg strength and my resistance to strength!!

  28. 2:10 I like the way he sprint or off the saddle but i can't do that everytime, I do that my Headset Is always tweaking or cracking sounds when i do sprints!? Why?

  29. Lift heavy weights for legs 1 day a week!!! I do 12 sets a week consisting of leg presses, lunges and calf raises. You won't believe the difference in the power in your legs!

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