Coach Hughes: Cycling Strength Training Upper Body pt. 2
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Intelligent Training—Training

Improving Upper Body Endurance, Part 2

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 ]

Improving Upper Body Endurance and Comfort on the Bike
We don't need much upper body strength - just enough to hold us up on the bike! Doing 12 - 20 reps of one pushing exercise and one pulling exercise is plenty. Since you're building endurance, do these exercises most days of the week.

Push-ups: Start with hands 3 - 4 inches wider than shoulders. Lower until chest is just touching floor and then push back up. Keep back straight through full range of motion.
Push-up Push-up


Single arm rowing: Put your left knee and left hand on the bench, right foot is on the floor. Back is parallel to the bench with head up, looking forward. Right arm is hanging toward floor, holding 10-20 lbs. I use a bag of tin cans. Raise the weight straight up to your shoulder/chest joint. Keep your back and shoulder motionless; just use the muscles on your right upper back. This is a particularly important exercise for strengthening the shoulder and neck muscles that hold your head up on the bike.
Single Arm Rowing Single Arm Rowing


Triceps dips: Start with your palms resting on the seat of a hard chair or bench (fingers forward), arms straight, and butt hanging in front of the chair. Using your shoulders and triceps, lower yourself until your elbows are bent at right angles, and push back up.
Triceps dip Triceps dip