With Labor day behind us and the clocks set to fall back an hour in the coming weeks, many cyclists are beginning to turn their focus to the weight room and strength training. What are three things those over 50 should consider?
With the cycling community doing an about-face over the last 5 years on the importance of strength training, many are looking to hit the weights hard and regularly, in an attempt to boost their strength over the next 3-5 months. Today we’re going to take a look at three changes those over 50 can, and should make in their approach, that go slightly against what’s popular, but will reward you with a stronger, more resilient, and happy body.
Hitting the weights and performing resistance training offers us cyclists a bevy of returns:
- Higher bone density
- More lean muscle mass
- The ability to handle more work
While the evidence is mounting towards these benefits, the vast majority of the research is focused on those in the 20-30 age bracket, due in large part to who is available to participate in the research studies.
For those over the age of 50, there are 3 major changes you’ll want to make, which will allow you to stack the deck in your favor, and give you a nice margin of safety, while betting heavily on strength training to help make you stronger on the bike.
Don’t jump right into “lifting heavy stuff”
While we do indeed need heavier weights to help reap all of the benefits strength training has to offer, especially after our 3rd decade on earth, our body has adapted to our postures & positions (both for better and worse) that have become a part of our habits. This means, for most of us, that we need some time to help get the muscles in their right working order, and joint positions.
Thankfully, this can be done through bodyweight and band exercises over a 6-12 week period. Yes, I know, bodyweight exercises sound relatively easy, but when you focus on the technique and how you are performing the movement, it brings a whole new level of difficulty to the game. Add in some tempo work, and you have yourself a very challenging and potent recipe.
But we must not be overzealous with our effort and time for these workouts, which brings us to #2.
Do the least amount of work with strength, that gets you the results you want and need
“Lazy, bordering on sloth”, as Charlie Munger puts it, comes to mind here. Perhaps lazy is too strong of a word, but it drives the point home well: You want to do the least amount of work to get you the results you want and need.
Many of you reading this venture into strength training in the fall/winter, and often see it fall to the wayside during the spring and summer riding season. While this is the traditional model for strength training, it leaves those over the age of 35 at a much higher risk of injury when they do return to the weights.
However, following rule #2 here, and heading to the gym for 2-3 strength workouts a week, consisting of 45-65 minutes of total time in the gym, can help you stay on track.
This leads us to #3
The art of less is more
We shouldn’t be hitting squats, and deadlifts, and lunges, and box jumps/plyometrics all on the same day- this will just kill you, pushing your body into a deep physiological hole.
Rather, We want to touch on our 1-2 major exercises throughout these 2-3 workouts, and perform supporting exercises for the rest of the workout.
So our strength training week would look something like this:
Monday, Day 1
A1. LIGHT plyometric, focused on quality, for a total of 15-20 “touches” (1 touch= 1 foot touching the floor 1x)
A2. Hex Bar Deadlift off of 6 inch blocks 1*10 @ RPE 3, 2*10 @ RPE 6
Thursday, Day 2
A1. Goblet Squats– focused on technique and feeling the right muscles working
for 3*8 for an RPE 6
A2. Paloff Press for coordination of anti-rotation and full-body stability
Saturday, Day 3
Movement day, focused on building better core strength (Everything between your neck, elbows, and knees), as well as hitting muscles that tend to be tight/ out of working order for cyclists (i.e. chest, hip flexors, etc).
None of these 3 days should leave you feeling tired, sore, or worn out that day, or the next 2 days. But instead, you should leave the gym/strength training session feeling invigorated, energized, and better than you came in. Do this consistently for the next 10-12 weeks, and you’ll be off to a fantastic start for your riding season.
If you’d like a program that’s been proven to help improve balance, strength, and the core competencies (and yes, your core as well) for better riding, you can purchase my 12 Week Core Training for Endurance Athletes Program, available on TrainingPeaks. Included is a 20+ page e-book to help you get the most out of your strength training, and a clickable PDF file for those who don’t want to rely on logging in to Training Peaks for their workouts.
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