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Leg workouts at the gym - Good idea?

Zoomer37Zoomer37 Posts: 725
Would like to know your views on including specific leg exercises (leg press, dead lifts etc) at the gym to help improve power/stamina for riding

Unnecessary if your riding regularly? Or a good thing to do for improving the above?
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Posts

  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    Unnecessary generally unless you're on a massive training load already.
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    Leg presses are pretty much a waste of time, full stop. You want to be squatting with a bar instead, and you particularly want to be squatting on one leg.

    Improve stamina. Forget about it, unless you're seriously out of shape and find you can't get out on the bike much, in which case any training is good training.

    Improve power. Only if you're racing track, and possibly also if you're a very weak sprinter and are looking to add a bit (but this is very debateable).

    However there is something to be said for the gym, particularly when it comes to reducing injury risk (knees, hips, lower back) but not really in the summer, because it interferes with riding too much. Gyms are generally for winter only. I'd just ride more!
  • The-beastThe-beast Posts: 140
    to be honest ive been weight training on the legs for the last 2 months, squats, calf raise, lunges, one leg raise etc, ive noticed quite a big difference in my sprinting and climbing with out a doubt so i will be carrying on with this routine, i tend to lift on mon so they have recovered for 70 mile+ rides thurs and sun, taking protein powder to aid recovery and a heavy streching session after lifting too.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    This has been done to death. The consensus of scientific experts and such is (subject to you being otherwise heathly) no, it doesn't do much and is certainly not as beneficial as riding a bike. Obviously you'll get a load of people who decide to lift weights then try to justify it; and another load who think n=1 is a good scientific experiment.
  • SlackSlack Posts: 326
    To improve power/stamina, you need to work on your aerobic base conditioning, and incorporate some interval work. All time on the bike.

    Only pro riders gain a small increase in performance from gym work.

    Save the gym fees and spend that money on a cycle coach who will design a program to match your requirements.
    Plymouthsteve for councillor!!
  • Gym work has its place for any athlete in my opinion, you just have to differentiate between the perception of weight lifting and strength and conditioning.

    Reducing the risk of injuries, increasing flexibility, muscle activation/engagement all would be considered as part of a strength and conditioning program that you wouldn't be able to achieve simply by riding. If you have the time and you enjoy lifting, fitting an hours gym session in twice a week isn't too difficult. If done correctly (as in, don't lift the day or two before a race, lift too much so you're sore for days etc) it can easily fit in to a weekly regime.

    A good start would be a book called "Weight lifting for Cyclists". Bought it this winter after work, uni and snow pretty much killed off any time I had for riding outside or indoors. It ended up being practically the same structure as what I'd used the previous year with a coach (who is now the Strength and Conditioning for the Sports Institute of Northern Ireland), so it's not too bad.

    Again, there is evidence both for and against strength training. My opinion is if you want to and you enjoy it, do it.
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

    PTP Runner Up 2015
  • toontratoontra Posts: 1,160
    I'm always amazed how quickly some people are to dismiss gym work. As well as being amateur cyclists we are also human beings and need to keep the whole body functioning well. Fixed weights and squats have definitely improved my cycling (especially climbing) but more importantly my whole body is in better shape. I don't get back/arm/neck problems on long rides (the 200 mile per day type). I can pump up a tyre to 120 using a mini pump with ease.

    A structured 2 hours in the gym (specific leg exercises, general weights, power intervals on a cycle trainer) is worth more than 2 hours on the road in my opinion. In any case, it's not either or, it's both.


    a serious case of small cogs
  • SlackSlack Posts: 326
    I can pump up a tyre to 123 using a mini pump with ease, and I don't go to a gym. :twisted:
    Plymouthsteve for councillor!!
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    Do core work in the gym. You'll gain more from a strong core than you will from loads of squats.
  • toontratoontra Posts: 1,160
    Pokerface wrote:
    Do core work in the gym. You'll gain more from a strong core than you will from loads of squats.

    Agreed. I also try and fit in a pilates class every week.
    Slack wrote:
    I can pump up a tyre to 123 using a mini pump with ease, and I don't go to a gym. :twisted:

    Most people I ride with can't (so I end up having to do it!) :wink:


    a serious case of small cogs
  • huuregeilhuuregeil Posts: 780
    Pokerface wrote:
    Do core work in the gym. You'll gain more from a strong core than you will from loads of squats.

    Do both! You get more core work done by doing stuff like overhead/front squats, deadlifts, than you do from classic "core" exercises.
  • huuregeil wrote:
    Pokerface wrote:
    Do core work in the gym. You'll gain more from a strong core than you will from loads of squats.

    Do both! You get more core work done by doing stuff like overhead/front squats, deadlifts, than you do from classic "core" exercises.

    +1

    Functional stuff is the way forward.
    "A cyclist has nothing to lose but his chain"

    PTP Runner Up 2015
  • EyonEyon Posts: 623
    squats do censored all. I could squat 3x 10 of 180kg in my big gym days, but when i first stepped on a bike i might as well never have bothered, it killed me. I have found however, come to a sprint or a small hill the strength from squatting does make a big difference in being able to turn a much larger gear than some of my riding friends, but at the same time I wear out faster when doing so.

    Gym tends to emphasise on large weight small reps, building strength, but no stamina, cycling is total opposite. Think about it logically, you really dont need strong legs to cycle (within reason), but you need to be able to do 16200 reps of a low weight (in a 3 hour cycle with ideal 90rpm cadence) instead of 10 reps of a lot.

    Things I'd say were sensible in the gym? core work, get your abs tight for better balance, lower back too would help I'd say. Also a great exercise is do squats on one of those semi circle balls (or even the swiss balls if your balance is spot on), this does both knee strengthening and core muscles, a worth while exersize for a cyclist
  • irezumiirezumi Posts: 142
    Eyon wrote:
    Also a great exercise is do squats on one of those semi circle balls (or even the swiss balls if your balance is spot on), this does both knee strengthening and core muscles, a worth while exersize for a cyclist
    Also an extremely good way to injure yourself unecessarily imho.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    Ah, I forgot the bunch of people who think "core exercise" does anything useful for people without specific weaknesses. My mistake.
  • Murr XMurr X Posts: 258
    irezumi wrote:
    Eyon wrote:
    Also a great exercise is do squats on one of those semi circle balls (or even the swiss balls if your balance is spot on), this does both knee strengthening and core muscles, a worth while exersize for a cyclist
    Also an extremely good way to injure yourself unecessarily imho.
    Correct, it is nothing but stupidity in the extreme to say the least.
    P_Tucker wrote:
    Ah, I forgot the bunch of people who think "core exercise" does anything useful for people without specific weaknesses. My mistake.
    Yep. A classic case of the placebo effect exerting its wonderful ability to convince people into believing utter nonsense and ignoring facts...

    The placebo effect on an unsuspecting victim example
    - "I have been doing weight training and can definitely feel that it is helping my cycling so you can say what you like but I know its works for me"

    The reality - "I do not have a powermeter or even vaguely know how to train with power or track physical progress, I could be going backwards and would not know it"

    Blind placebo victim has actually being going backwards by reducing sustainable power and increasing bodyweight by 3% but can't see it though he "feels good".

    Sound familiar?


    Murr X
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    To be honest, core training is entirely unnecessary - just buy one of those wristbands with holograms. I've seen the test with my own eyes and it definitely increases core strength. The packet says by up to 500% - and I see no reason to disbelieve it. Imagine how many sit-ups you'd have to do to match that! A bargain at £29.99. In fact, I'll give any Bikeradar member 3% off - http://stores.ebay.co.uk/P_Tucker
  • danowatdanowat Posts: 2,877
    Murr X wrote:

    The placebo effect on an unsuspecting victim example
    - "I have been doing weight training and can definitely feel that it is helping my cycling so you can say what you like but I know its works for me"

    The reality - "I do not have a powermeter or even vaguely know how to train with power or track physical progress, I could be going backwards and would not know it"

    Blind placebo victim has actually being going backwards by reducing sustainable power and increasing bodyweight by 3% but can't see it though he "feels good".

    Sound familiar?


    Murr X

    Love it :D
  • EyonEyon Posts: 623
    Murr X wrote:
    irezumi wrote:
    Eyon wrote:
    Also a great exercise is do squats on one of those semi circle balls (or even the swiss balls if your balance is spot on), this does both knee strengthening and core muscles, a worth while exersize for a cyclist
    Also an extremely good way to injure yourself unecessarily imho.
    Correct, it is nothing but stupidity in the extreme to say the least.

    Sorry, but how the hell do you injure yourself on a small air filled dome all of 6 inches above the ground? do you lack basic balance skills which mean you fall over every time you become unstable? After some serious problems with my lateral collateral ligaments, this above exersize greatly improved my situation, strengthening the muscles around the knee, supporting a previously weak point in my body. A recommended exersize by a both a doctor and physio and PT to me, and it worked.

    As regards to core muscle training, there is zero harm in strengthening here, Abdominals are the least important, but the lower and middle back are vital. Actually, name a single disadvantage to having strength here? I doubt you'll find a pro cyclist who will not emphasise some training on their core. Core will also benefit breathing, posture and ability to hold your body in a better position (on aerobars for example). Muscles work in conjunction with other ones and the lower back is certainly effect the efficiency of your glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors, all muscles which are essential to be powerful for cycling. With a higher core strength, means a more stable body on the bike and technically more power transfer to the pedals.

    I have no doubt in my mind, upper body strength is a waste of time in a road cyclist (apart from neck muscles I guess as we spend all our lives looking "up"), but anything from your diaphragm down will help in cycling. I wont lie, I'm no doctor, but your body is a machine and needs to be well maintained to get the best out of it
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    Eyon wrote:
    As regards to core muscle training, there is zero harm in strengthening here, Abdominals are the least important, but the lower and middle back are vital. Actually, name a single disadvantage to having strength here? I doubt you'll find a pro cyclist who will not emphasise some training on their core. Core will also benefit breathing, posture and ability to hold your body in a better position (on aerobars for example). Muscles work in conjunction with other ones and the lower back is certainly effect the efficiency of your glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors, all muscles which are essential to be powerful for cycling. With a higher core strength, means a more stable body on the bike and technically more power transfer to the pedals.

    I have no doubt in my mind, upper body strength is a waste of time in a road cyclist (apart from neck muscles I guess as we spend all our lives looking "up"), but anything from your diaphragm down will help in cycling. I wont lie, I'm no doctor, but your body is a machine and needs to be well maintained to get the best out of it

    This is exactly the kind of stuff he was talking about :lol:

    Even if we accept that increased core strength doesn't hurt, can you provide any evidence that it helps (other than in extreme cases where someone has a specific weakness in that area)?

    Of course, it does take time, which might be better spent riding a bike. Certainly, I'd be fascinated to see any research that shows that an hour spent balancing on a ball in a gym has a greater effect on cycling ability than an hour of good training on a bike, particularly for non-professional cyclists.
  • Weight work for cyclists injury prevention is a myth.

    Poor bike fit and trying to do too much training too quickly are the primary causes of non crash injury for cyclists. So get a good bike fit and don't try to do more than you should for your level of fitness.

    Core - if your core needs to get better for the cycling you do, guess what will happen when you train on the bike and provide the type of muscular overload specific for cycling?

    Nothing wrong with doing gym work for many reasons, just don't go attributing increases in sustainable power to it.
  • irezumiirezumi Posts: 142
    Eyon wrote:
    Murr X wrote:
    irezumi wrote:
    Eyon wrote:
    Also a great exercise is do squats on one of those semi circle balls (or even the swiss balls if your balance is spot on), this does both knee strengthening and core muscles, a worth while exersize for a cyclist
    Also an extremely good way to injure yourself unecessarily imho.
    Correct, it is nothing but stupidity in the extreme to say the least.

    Sorry, but how the hell do you injure yourself on a small air filled dome all of 6 inches above the ground? do you lack basic balance skills which mean you fall over every time you become unstable? After some serious problems with my lateral collateral ligaments, this above exersize greatly improved my situation, strengthening the muscles around the knee, supporting a previously weak point in my body. A recommended exersize by a both a doctor and physio and PT to me, and it worked.
    I don't disagree that it is a good exercise, and I have met many PT's and physios who advise it as good to do. I personally however feel it offers little extra over other exercises whilst greatly increasing the potential to fall and therefore create more potential injury. I've seen people fall from that high and seriously injure themselves (ie fractures of wrists).
  • EyonEyon Posts: 623
    P_Tucker wrote:
    Eyon wrote:
    As regards to core muscle training, there is zero harm in strengthening here, Abdominals are the least important, but the lower and middle back are vital. Actually, name a single disadvantage to having strength here? I doubt you'll find a pro cyclist who will not emphasise some training on their core. Core will also benefit breathing, posture and ability to hold your body in a better position (on aerobars for example). Muscles work in conjunction with other ones and the lower back is certainly effect the efficiency of your glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors, all muscles which are essential to be powerful for cycling. With a higher core strength, means a more stable body on the bike and technically more power transfer to the pedals.

    I have no doubt in my mind, upper body strength is a waste of time in a road cyclist (apart from neck muscles I guess as we spend all our lives looking "up"), but anything from your diaphragm down will help in cycling. I wont lie, I'm no doctor, but your body is a machine and needs to be well maintained to get the best out of it

    This is exactly the kind of stuff he was talking about :lol:

    Even if we accept that increased core strength doesn't hurt, can you provide any evidence that it helps (other than in extreme cases where someone has a specific weakness in that area)?

    Of course, it does take time, which might be better spent riding a bike. Certainly, I'd be fascinated to see any research that shows that an hour spent balancing on a ball in a gym has a greater effect on cycling ability than an hour of good training on a bike, particularly for non-professional cyclists.

    Balancing on a ball isnt what i was talking about with core exercise. And no, i cannot provide evidence at the same level you cannot provide any evidence that it does not work either I suspect. People look at cycling at different levels though, you might not see the advantage as a "non-professional cyclist", but some want to emulate areas of training that the pros do, with the belief it might make them better, myself included. fitness and power is surely the sum of many smaller parts (+ the big bits like your thighs!). I'm not talking about spending hours and hours doing these exercises, but for someone who cannot get out riding every day of the week, 10 minutes of exercises and stretches before bed at night goes a long way. I believe that a stronger lower back helps, and I will continue to do so, if you do not, then that is fine.

    Placebo, maybe? But isnt it also scientifically proven that placebos work? You can be as strong and as fit as you like but if you have no belief then you wont get anywhere. If you aren't so fit but see that hill in front of you, and put all belief into it, you will get there.

    irezumi, the squats are maybe not an exercise which everyone needs to do, but if you, like me, suffer from ligament troubles in the knee it cant recommend it enough. i took the risk of a 6" fall to make it possible to ride for more than 6 or 7 miles without unridable pain.
  • springtide9springtide9 Posts: 1,731
    Far from being an expert and not offering my opinion, but got recommended two books on here...

    - Smart Cycling: Successful Training and Racing
    - The Cyclist's Training Bible

    I believe these books are reasonably well regarded. Both books recommend leg and core strength training - and appear on the surface to be very similar in terms of advice.
    I would guess this means that there are opinions out there that it is useful.
    Simon
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,601
    "- good idea?" Of course it's a good idea. Since when has making your legs stronger, and your whole body for that matter, been a bad idea? I'm at a complete loss to explain why anyone would have a problem with someone doing some leg weight training.
    To me it's great exercise, much like any other exercise, it's good for you, it makes you stronger, it makes you healthier, it allows you to do more things in life, it helps prevent
    injury, you'll feel stronger. I could go on and on. Exercise in pretty much whatever form
    is NOT a bad idea or useless thing. Who are these people who seem to claim otherwise? :roll: :roll:
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    Core - if your core needs to get better for the cycling you do, guess what will happen when you train on the bike and provide the type of muscular overload specific for cycling?



    So for someone like myself that already trains full time (on the bike) and has unlimited time to do so (so doing 30 minutes extra of core work a day isn't going to take away from my time on the bike, etc), is core work good or a waste of that 30 minutes?

    And as I have a specific core weakness that isn't being helped by all the time I already spend in the bike (despite a proper bike fitting, etc), surely these exercises will not only strengthen my core (and thus increase sustainable power) more than simply 'riding my bike more' would?

    I suppose if your core is already as strong as it needs to be for your cycling purposes than there is no need to do any supplmentary exercises. In my case, this isn't true. Possibly a n=1 case, but it seems I am not alone in this.
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 3,830
    Murr X wrote:
    irezumi wrote:
    Eyon wrote:
    Also a great exercise is do squats on one of those semi circle balls (or even the swiss balls if your balance is spot on), this does both knee strengthening and core muscles, a worth while exersize for a cyclist
    Also an extremely good way to injure yourself unecessarily imho.
    Correct, it is nothing but stupidity in the extreme to say the least.
    P_Tucker wrote:
    Ah, I forgot the bunch of people who think "core exercise" does anything useful for people without specific weaknesses. My mistake.
    Yep. A classic case of the placebo effect exerting its wonderful ability to convince people into believing utter nonsense and ignoring facts...

    The placebo effect on an unsuspecting victim example
    - "I have been doing weight training and can definitely feel that it is helping my cycling so you can say what you like but I know its works for me"

    The reality - "I do not have a powermeter or even vaguely know how to train with power or track physical progress, I could be going backwards and would not know it"

    Blind placebo victim has actually being going backwards by reducing sustainable power and increasing bodyweight by 3% but can't see it though he "feels good".

    Sound familiar?


    Murr X


    Well I was reading an interview with Marco Pinotti the other day and he certainly believes in core exercises. I'm guessing you wouldn't include him in your catch all of "people who do not have a powermeter or even vaguely know how to train" ? Or the many pro cyclists who do use weight training - Lance Armstrong certainly did - or on an amateur level two of the best riders in our club (first cat and an elite MTBer) who both do weights over the winter - and yes the first cat at least definitely has a power meter and is quite into training with power.

    I just think writing everyone who disagrees with you off as having no idea how to train doesn't stack up. The balance of peer reviewed evidence may be against weight training - but there is certainly some which suggests some possible benefits for cyclists.

    No axe to grind as personally I haven't been in a gym for a few years and don't do any kind of core work or flexibility work - though I intend to start as I've been getting lower back trouble for a while now and it's starting to impact on my cycling.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • PokerfacePokerface Posts: 7,960
    the other point I'd like to raise is while (so far as I can see) only one person with any sort of coaching education has commented on this thread saying that core work isn't particularly beneficial, I have been advised by ALL my coaching, physiology and Strength and conditioning team to DO core work. And not just me, but my entire squad.

    Surely they can't all be wrong? And even if they are, at some point I have to put my faith in them and do what is prescribed. It's not as if there is (any) overwhelming evidence to say core work has no benefit?

    I'm all for questioning coaching advice and techniques (and do so regularly). And would gladly skip core work. Can one of you 'experts' point me in the direction of some literature that says core work is pointless?
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    Eyon wrote:
    Balancing on a ball isnt what i was talking about with core exercise. And no, i cannot provide evidence at the same level you cannot provide any evidence that it does not work either I suspect.

    I never said it didn't work at all (okay I did, but TBH I was just trolling). My main argument is that time on a bike is better than time working on "core exercise". I can provide stacks of links showing that training on a bike makes you better at riding a bike - but I think we can take it as read. The burden of proof lies with you.
    Eyon wrote:
    People look at cycling at different levels though, you might not see the advantage as a "non-professional cyclist", but some want to emulate areas of training that the pros do, with the belief it might make them better, myself included. fitness and power is surely the sum of many smaller parts (+ the big bits like your thighs!). I'm not talking about spending hours and hours doing these exercises, but for someone who cannot get out riding every day of the week, 10 minutes of exercises and stretches before bed at night goes a long way. I believe that a stronger lower back helps, and I will continue to do so, if you do not, then that is fine.

    Why do you believe this? You confess that you have no evidence. Pros do lots of things that amateurs shouldn't, for many reasons - the main one being that they effectively have unlimited time to train.
    Eyon wrote:
    You can be as strong and as fit as you like but if you have no belief then you wont get anywhere. If you aren't so fit but see that hill in front of you, and put all belief into it, you will get there.

    Nonsense. Doesn't even deserve a response other than utter contempt.
  • irezumiirezumi Posts: 142
    Pokerface wrote:
    the other point I'd like to raise is while (so far as I can see) only one person with any sort of coaching education has commented on this thread saying that core work isn't particularly beneficial, I have been advised by ALL my coaching, physiology and Strength and conditioning team to DO core work. And not just me, but my entire squad.
    In defence of Alex_Simmons (who I assume youre reffering to) he does repeatedly mention in all his posts along these lines that gym work has not been proven to be a good way to improve cycling (and in particular endurance cycling) power. Not that it cant be a good thing, or even potentially a good addition to cycling in certain circumstances.

    It is also being overlooked that everyone is different. Therefore how they train, what they train and when they train it are likely to all be different depending on individual circumstances.

    @Eyon. I go to the gym once a week doing squats, deadlifts, cleans and verious other exercises. So I understand the benefit. I merely think doing them on a swiss ball or similar apparatus is overtly dangerous. Particularly with knee ligament damage/injuries the quick stabilisation needed at all joints could cause your patella to shift slightly causing further damage (although it seems to have worked well for you which is good). I would personally have preffered single leg squats which allow for easier balance and arguably better working of that particular ligament/joint. Again personal opinion based on my experience and knowledge.
    P_tucker wrote:
    Nonsense. Doesn't even deserve a response other than utter contempt.
    Although an extreme viewpoint orginally posted there is a lot of psychology work that would go someway to backing up what Eyon said. At least to some extent.
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