• James

Gym training is key

Gym work is now a well understood part of any good training plan for cyclists. Strength work especially during the winter helps for when the weather gets better and the racing starts, I can testify to that. Three winters ago when Gary Hand at Espresso Cycle Coaching first started guiding me with my training we didn't really get much done because the winter was almost over and we were straight into the final stage of preparation for 2016 Race Across America. However later that year and into the winter going into 2017 I was using the weights regularly.


At first I hated the gym. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was going to the local gym and watching the posers spending more time fiddling with their phones than actually doing exercise. One evening I was there and looked around, there was about four other people in there, they all had their headphones on which was just as well because I was conscious that all the grunting and moaning was coming from me. I wondered how they managed to try hard without making any noise. Then I realised how, they weren't trying. So I bought some weights and so I could do this all at home. Off to Decathlon I went. It was funny, I could barely carry the weights out to the car, it was ironic that I was struggling just to get the weights home.


I did a good winter gym training plan over 2016/2017 and by the time I was back riding in the local Tuesday evening Pedal Power chain gang again my power had gone up. I'm not the fastest out there (there's always someone faster and there's some local riders that can really do some damage over the long climbs during the hour and a bit that it takes to get around) but I could tell that my legs were stronger compared to the riders I was used to competing with. Racing and competing always hurts but theres a "good" hurt and a "bad" hurt. I had the "good" hurt sensations.


During this time, plans were progressing well with the 24hr distance record challenge. Gary said I need to me more powerful on the track, I needed more brute force and there was little advantage to being light in body weight on the velodrome so I've been doing a lot of gym work all during 2018. Its a bit dull to be honest but you don't get cold and wet and you don't have to clean the bike, you and your kit afterwards. Its all done indoors in the garage at home. I've watched my progress as the weights for every exercise are all recorded. That way I can see how I am doing. After all this training and after the 24 hour record attempt I can promise you that I will not be doing single leg step ups onto a high step with weights on my back and in my hands. There is a certain nastiness to that exercise that doesn't exist in any others. I will not miss it. Its the only exercise I worry about, I hate it, once I've completed that exercise during a session I'm much happier.


If anyone is wondering about doing gym exercises for cycling then I'd recommend to give it a go, but you need to be patient, if its your first time then you'll be rubbish, I certainly was. I was such a weakling before, now I'm less of a weakling but still not Arnie on a bike,



Here is a short video of what I typically do in the gym. Track riders will scoff at this regime no doubt but I'm not a real trackie, I'm just playing at it for a while.


Now the longer endurance rides are becoming more a part of my training I suspect there will be less gym work so I hope I've done enough. I'm heading out to Lanzarote with some of the other riders from the Espresso Cycle Coaching family soon. It will be warm, probably very windy, but all the training will be bike based and after such a long time lifting weights, doing planks and step ups that will be most welcome in my book.

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