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Coach's Column: Strength Training During Race Season - Yes or No?

Posted by: Karen Potter |June 13, 2013 5:15 PM

Coach's Column with Andy Applegate: Core and Strength Training During the Race Season - Yes or No?


Question: I have been doing strength training and core workouts throughout the off-season, should I continue with both into the race season?

Answer: Wow, a question I can almost answer with a single word: yes. BUT there are a lot of considerations to account for as well. Core strengthening work should certainly continue year round. You may want to attenuate the amount of time you spend on it during the season though. Generally doing 15-20 minutes of core work 2 or 3 times per week during the heavy training and racing part of the season is plenty.

For the full body strength work, you can continue some throughout the season, however you will want to cut back substantially as the ride training increases and your races approach. Also, you will want to change your mindset for the goal of these sessions from "building strength” to "maintaining strength”. The sessions should become shorter with less exercises and less overall stress. You could move to 2 or even 1 session per week in order to accomplish this maintenance goal.

Also, when you are riding a lot and training hard on the bike, minimize the strength exercises that work the cycling prime mover muscle groups (hip extensor exercises in particular such as squats, dead lifts, leg press etc). Do however continue to work support muscle groups like back, shoulders and even hamstrings.

Remember that in the heat of the ride/ race season, strength work should be secondary to on-bike training. If you are fatigued and need to cut back on workout time, don’t be afraid to skip that extra strength work before cutting any important bike workouts.

Andy Applegate is a Pro level coach with Carmichael Training Systems. He has over 20 years of racing experience and has been coaching cyclists full time since 2001. His passion is endurance mountain bike racing. We would like to welcome Andy to our amazing group of elite coaches. You can find out more about Andy and his training programs at www.trainright.com

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