Cycling Athlete In Gym Performing Barbell Press With Bikes On The Wall In Background

Weight Lifting for Cyclists 101: Key Movements

BY Derek Teel

Learn how these seven key movements can enhance your pedal power, bike stability, and overall performance.

Created in Collaboration With Derek Teel From Dialed Health

As a cyclist, how do you get the results from strength training you actually want? While there are a myriad of complex strength exercises that cyclists can benefit from, following a “meat and potatoes” approach can help keep workouts simple, approachable, and effective. 

You can ensure you’re training for total body strength by incorporating the following seven effective movement patterns into your strength workouts.

1. Knee Dominant 

Knee extension is the primary force producer of a pedal stroke. Movements that target knee extension (such as lunges or step-ups) are great for cyclists looking to produce more power. 

2. Hip Dominant

Hip-dominant movements like squats or deadlifts minimize leg and low back compensations. 

3. Core

Planks, Russian twists, and other core exercises give you a stable center to transfer power and stabilize your bike. 

4. Horizontal Push

Push movements help you hold your weight up and handle impact through the bars. Give movements like push-ups or bench press a try. 

5. Horizontal Pull

Pulling on the bars helps you push harder on the pedals during sprints. Dumbbell rows and inverted rows are great pull exercises for cyclists. 

6. Vertical Push

Build well-rounded shoulders that are less prone to injury with vertical push movements like shoulder press or overhead plate carries. 

7. Vertical Pull

Pull-ups and lat pull-downs are excellent vertical pull movements that improve your overhead range of motion and grip strength. 

Additional Tips

  • Use primarily free weights. These require your body to stabilize the weight with smaller muscle groups while still using your primary movers. This will translate the strength to your bike more easily.
  • Include mobility work in every workout. Start each session with dynamic stretches (constant movement) and include them between strength sets when you start to feel “tight.” Finish each workout with some static stretching, which means holding a stretch for 30-90 seconds.
  • Seek out professional advice. For more information about how many sets and reps you should be doing, and how much weight you should be lifting, seek out the opinion of a professional coach, or find a training plan that aligns with your current fitness level and goals.
  • Don’t miss, just modify. Consistency wins — not only in your physical results but also in your mental gains. Ingraining the habit of showing up for your strength workouts under less-than-ideal circumstances will make for long-term success.
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Derek Teel
About Derek Teel

Derek Teel is a certified personal trainer who specializes in strength training for cyclists. After climbing the ranks in downhill mountain bike racing, he turned his attention to training, leading him to ten years of full-time coaching in the general health and fitness industry. Spending most of his time riding/racing road, gravel, and XC MTB inspired him to create a wider variety of products to suit riders’ specific needs.

Derek now works full-time, providing strength training programs and coaching through, where he strives to make healthier cyclists who perform better around the world. Follow him on Instagram @dialedhealth or listen to him talk on The Dialed Health Podcast.

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