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Increasing leg strength

Darren DerbyDarren Derby Posts: 8
edited September 2011 in Training, fitness and health
Hi all,
I could do with some advice as per the title. I'm happy with the speed and cadence I can maintain on the flat, but as soon as I hit a hill I come to almost a grinding halt (I just don't feel I have the leg strength to really 'hit the hills' hard). Therefore, I'm going to dedicate 4 months over winter to increasing my leg strength - weights, hill sessions, etc. Could anyone offer any tips re: numbers of reps/sets, type of excercise, etc?
Many thanks,
Darren
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Posts

  • unixnerdunixnerd Posts: 2,864
    I'd just go out and do hill repeats frankly. My LBS runs a 10 mile TT that finishes up Cairngorm Mountain! Training for it made me an awful lot stronger than the previous season. At one point I was climbing the steepest bit and going back for repeats (my wife thought I was nuts and she may be right).
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  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    You'll probably benefit more by improving your fitness instead of your leg strength. Cycle up hills.
    More problems but still living....
  • ut_och_cyklaut_och_cykla Posts: 1,594
    Cycling up hills is always going to be a good idea - as repeats, testing different gears etc. But if you want some gym alternatives - squats, forward leaning barbell rows, lunges, steps adn perhaps even some deadlifts will all contribute to well being, keeping winter weight off etc, building some lactate tolerance adn getting you used to really trying had!

    My tip would be after a period of transition go for heavy lifts aroun 4-6 reps (get technique coaching if necessary) These will give most strength with little muscle growth as it encourages fibre recruitment and will contribute to core strength and flexibility too.
    but no doubt there wil be folks along to say just ride your bike - valid but not an answer to your q
  • Excellent reply. Thanks all for taking the time.
    Ut-och-cykla - think I'm going to try a combination of hill repeats and low rep heavy lifting.
    Unixnerd - how often did you perform hill repeats? I guess they take a while to recover from.
  • IMO seated leg presses are a must. They really build the quads, glutes and hamstrings. Been spending at least four days a week in the gym for the past three months due to a bad crash and my legs are now bigger than they ever were!
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    How much do you weigh? I think a lower weigh tmakes more difference on the hills than having strong legs.

    I find Im quite strong on the hills but suffer more on the flats.
  • NJKNJK Posts: 194
    Hi all,
    I could do with some advice as per the title. I'm happy with the speed and cadence I can maintain on the flat, but as soon as I hit a hill I come to almost a grinding halt (I just don't feel I have the leg strength to really 'hit the hills' hard). Therefore, I'm going to dedicate 4 months over winter to increasing my leg strength - weights, hill sessions, etc. Could anyone offer any tips re: numbers of reps/sets, type of excercise, etc?
    Many thanks,
    Darren

    Difficult to say what specifically you need to do, but would concentrate more on just riding hills at varying intensity. Strength training will do very little except make you very good at lifting weights. You don't need to hit the hills hard to make significant gains, if you haven't got the power to get over the hill and you blow this will demoralise you even more, think gearing and pacing!
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    Hi all,
    I could do with some advice as per the title. I'm happy with the speed and cadence I can maintain on the flat, but as soon as I hit a hill I come to almost a grinding halt (I just don't feel I have the leg strength to really 'hit the hills' hard). Therefore, I'm going to dedicate 4 months over winter to increasing my leg strength - weights, hill sessions, etc. Could anyone offer any tips re: numbers of reps/sets, type of excercise, etc?
    Many thanks,
    Darren

    Leg strength isn't what is limiting you. Get fitter.
  • derek48derek48 Posts: 67
    Ok get fitter, but leg strength is what turns the cranks. Look at any of the coaching manuals (eg. Joe Beer) and they all have resistance training advice, especially for over the winter months. Weights do work, but you need to know what you are doing. Three times a week over the winter in the gym will have a big impact. It's even more important as you get older, as muscle mass decreases. Read some of the coaching manuals.
  • amaferangaamaferanga Posts: 6,789
    derek48 wrote:
    Ok get fitter, but leg strength is what turns the cranks. Look at any of the coaching manuals (eg. Joe Beer) and they all have resistance training advice, especially for over the winter months. Weights do work, but you need to know what you are doing. Three times a week over the winter in the gym will have a big impact. It's even more important as you get older, as muscle mass decreases. Read some of the coaching manuals.

    I think you'll find a lot of people who disagree with that claim. Not a debate I want to get into though - it's been done to death several times.

    Bigger legs doesn't equal better cyclist. I've got big legs (not through weights - just cycling), but regularly get beaten by guys with scrawny looking legs....
    More problems but still living....
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    derek48 wrote:
    Ok get fitter, but leg strength is what turns the cranks. Look at any of the coaching manuals (eg. Joe Beer) and they all have resistance training advice, especially for over the winter months. Weights do work, but you need to know what you are doing. Three times a week over the winter in the gym will have a big impact. It's even more important as you get older, as muscle mass decreases. Read some of the coaching manuals.

    Well, it sounds like you know what you are talking about. Now remind me, how is it that Andy Schleck can ride up hills really fast yet has legs like a sparrow?
  • cyco2cyco2 Posts: 593
    Greater strength is not the way to gain climbing ability. The biggest gains can be made by lower weight, fitness and pedalling ability. Your training should replicate what you are trying to achieve. I have spent hours on a Turbo and because I couldn't replicate the out of saddle experience it didn't feel so good as climbing a hill. But it helped. The other problem about climbing is the question. Do you have the engine to develop anyway. Do you have the tenacity to bare the pain. I had a passion to climb and most of my training was on hills. Not big ones but lots of them. The long ones I paced myself but but the short ones had to be sprinted up. When it was not possible to go over the hills I used to do very long out of the saddle sprints that were as near as possible to the effort and cadence of climbing.
    If you do want to exercise try this. With body weight only do one legged squats. I used to do these on a stool so my trail leg could hang. You should be able to knock these off by the hundreds per session. I hope this helps.
    ...................................................................................................

    If you want to be a strong rider you have to do strong things.
    However if you train like a cart horse you'll race like one.
  • derek48derek48 Posts: 67
    Does Andy Schleck have strong legs?
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    derek48 wrote:
    Does Andy Schleck have strong legs?

    Fiver says I can leg press more than him. A million quid says he'll beat me to the top of any hill.
  • derek48derek48 Posts: 67
    What does he use to turn the cranks?
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 5,127
    edited August 2011
    derek48 wrote:
    What does he use to turn the cranks?

    Skinny legs.

    tdf_2010_st2_ANDY_SCHLECK.jpg

    (PS - he doesn't normally need someone to push him up hills.)
  • sagaloutsagalout Posts: 338
    derek48 wrote:
    What does he use to turn the cranks?

    You don't need much muscle mass or strength for a single turn of the cranks.....you do need a lot of fitness to supply oxygen to the muscle to keep it turning though
  • derek48derek48 Posts: 67
    STRONG skinny legs. Strength does not necessarily equate to huge weightlifter muscles.There is so much evidence out there from top cycling coaches like Chris Carmichael and Joe Beer about the benefits of strength training for endurance athletes. I would encourage you to read at least some of it.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 5,127
    Might as well just invoke Godwin's Law now.

    Hitler.

    Those that believe weights help will argue one way, those that don't will argue the other, no-one will change sides, but we'll fill up 10 pages of heated debate.

    I might just go over to Cycle Chat and peruse the helmet debates for light relief.
  • NJKNJK Posts: 194
    derek48 wrote:
    STRONG skinny legs. Strength does not necessarily equate to huge weightlifter muscles.There is so much evidence out there from top cycling coaches like Chris Carmichael and Joe Beer about the benefits of strength training for endurance athletes. I would encourage you to read at least some of it.

    Evidence really? If i was coaching an endurance runner then absolutely i would include phases of strength training, but for a cyclist the coach must ask what he is trying to achieve or improve? Strength rarely comes into road cycling unless a commentator misuses the term.
  • a_n_ta_n_t Posts: 2,011
    I love these threads :lol:
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    100m Yeah right.
  • Murr XMurr X Posts: 258
    .

    Chris Carmichael a top cycling coach? :lol:
    a_n_t wrote:
    I love these threads :lol:
    I agree 100%!
  • Murr X wrote:
    .

    Chris Carmichael a top cycling coach? :lol:
    a_n_t wrote:
    I love these threads :lol:
    I agree 100%!
    And your coaching credentials are :?:
  • dennisndennisn Posts: 10,453
    amaferanga wrote:
    derek48 wrote:
    Ok get fitter, but leg strength is what turns the cranks. Look at any of the coaching manuals (eg. Joe Beer) and they all have resistance training advice, especially for over the winter months. Weights do work, but you need to know what you are doing. Three times a week over the winter in the gym will have a big impact. It's even more important as you get older, as muscle mass decreases. Read some of the coaching manuals.


    Bigger legs doesn't equal better cyclist. I've got big legs (not through weights - just cycling), but regularly get beaten by guys with scrawny looking legs....

    Very true, but by the same token scrawny legs don't make you a champ either.
  • MettanMettan Posts: 2,103
    but as soon as I hit a hill I come to almost a grinding halt (I just don't feel I have the leg strength to really 'hit the hills' hard)

    Hi - ''strength training'' doesn't appear to substantially increase your mitochondrial or capillary density - nor does it substantially increase the concentrations of aerobic enzymes in your muscles (and that's being generous) - regular riding at a sufficient intensity will however do this - having said that, it's a 'nice feeling' to get on a bike on the back of some gym-work (however, don't expect it to get you a good time in the Etape or whatever). Personally, I'd try and build more uphill bits into your training rides - if you can do regular 30-50 milers with say 1500-2500 ft of climbing, you'll be able to handle yourself quite nicely on club runs/sportives etc etc.
  • coombsfhcoombsfh Posts: 186
    I am newish to cycling and consider myself to have strong legs; I have played rugby since I was small, lift respectable weights in deadlift and squat and am "big" (15 st at the moment and on my way back to the normal 16 st)...

    HOWEVER

    Strong legs do not help up hills as I have recently found. My missus lives near box hill so every day last week I was there, I cycled to it, up it and then did "hill reps". Though I improved throughout the week I quickly realised that a skinny racing snake will easily outpace me up a hill. Chunky legs (on me at least) puff out easily ad the fact that I have to oxygenate a rugby-playing, weight lifting top half that cleves through the air like a chest of drawers doesn't help.

    I am never going to make an excellent cyclist as I have more important things (competitive strength training being one) to focus on. This said, the best thing I have found to improve my stamina and climbing ability is to find a hill and just keep on beasting yourself up it repeatedly.

    If you wanna be strong in the legs (and all over really) simple "classic" exercises like squats (back and front), deadlifts and lunges help a lot. If you prefer less static training, hill sprints (on your feet) dragging a tyre behind you are a particularly effective tool for building the short-burst training that we find useful in rugby.

    For hills, as peeps have said, just find a hill and make it your censored ...
  • Keep going up hills. I have a lot of short but steep hills near me and I can now whizz up them no problem. When I first started cycling they were damn nearly impossible.

    It's important to carry speed going into a climb and also learning how to be in the correct gears for the various parts of the climb is important to - experience will teach that.

    Your weight will be a big issue as well. Andy Schleck - 6'1 - 68 kg, Fabian Cancellara - 6'1 - 81kg
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    Murr X wrote:
    .

    Chris Carmichael a top cycling coach? :lol:
    a_n_t wrote:
    I love these threads :lol:
    I agree 100%!

    +1

    Carmichael has successfully forged a career based on being Lance's whiter-than-white "coach" when he was getting his training plans from Ferrari. Still, can't knock him for that - I'd have done the same.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    derek48 wrote:
    STRONG skinny legs. Strength does not necessarily equate to huge weightlifter muscles.There is so much evidence out there from top cycling coaches like Chris Carmichael and Joe Beer about the benefits of strength training for endurance athletes. I would encourage you to read at least some of it.

    I think you'll find we have read it. Then we've read stuff from people who know what they're talking about.
  • P_TuckerP_Tucker Posts: 1,878
    dennisn wrote:
    amaferanga wrote:
    derek48 wrote:
    Ok get fitter, but leg strength is what turns the cranks. Look at any of the coaching manuals (eg. Joe Beer) and they all have resistance training advice, especially for over the winter months. Weights do work, but you need to know what you are doing. Three times a week over the winter in the gym will have a big impact. It's even more important as you get older, as muscle mass decreases. Read some of the coaching manuals.


    Bigger legs doesn't equal better cyclist. I've got big legs (not through weights - just cycling), but regularly get beaten by guys with scrawny looking legs....

    Very true, but by the same token scrawny legs don't make you a champ either.

    Magnificent application of logic there.
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