Coach Hughes: Cycling Strength Training Legs pt. 1
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Intelligent Training—Training

Developing Leg Strength, Part 1

Strength Training for Century, Brevet and Other Endurance Cyclists

by Dan Kehlenbach & John Hughes
© 2003 John Hughes, All Rights Reserved

John Hughes and Dan Kehlenbach are the authors of Distance Cycling: Your Complete Guide to Endurance Cycling Kehlenbach has been a contributing editor to UltraCycling and is certified as a strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and as an expert level coach with USA Cycling and has a master’s degree in sports medicine. Hughes, the former director of the UltraMarathon Cycling Association and editor of UltraCycling, has been certified by the NSCA as a personal trainer and by USA Cycling as a coach. Both have been coaching for over 15 years.

Strength training overview [  Part 1  |  Part 2

Recommended exercises for

  1. Increasing core strength [  Part 1  |  Part 2  ]
  2. Developing leg strength [  Part 1 |  Part 2  ]
  3. Improving muscle balance [  Part 1  |  Part 2 ]
  4. Strengthening connective tissues [  Part 1  |  Part 2 ]
  5. Improving upper body endurance [  Part 1 |  Part 2 ]

Developing Leg Strength
One or two days a week, do an aerobic activity that builds leg strength:

  • riding a road bike, single speed or mountain bike in hilly terrain.
  • hiking, snow shoeing, or back country skiing with a moderately heavy pack.

Two or three days a week, do three sets of 12-20 reps of one of the following strength exercises, which are progressively more difficult. For each of these exercises, the knee of the front leg should remain directly over the ankle - the knee should not go forward in front of the toes, which would place added stress on the knee.

Wall Squats: Stand 12-18 inches away from a wall. Place a soccer/basketball between your lower back and the wall. Bend your knees and, using the ball as a roller, squat down like you're sitting in a chair. Go down until your hip and knee joints form right angles (just like in a chair), then stand back up. Start with no weights, and progress to holding a gallon of water in each hand.
Wall Squat Wall Squat


Step ups: With right leg, step up onto a box or step approximately 12-16 inches high and step back down; step up with left leg and back down. (Both legs = 1 repetition). Wear a backpack full of canned food for added resistance.
Step Up Step Up


Originally printed in UltraCycling