Weight training – without weights

Get the benefits of functional strength training on the bike, not at the gym

Photo Danny Bird

It’s well documented that weight training off the bike can lead to performance improvements on it, especially in explosive situations such as sprints and short, steep climbs.

But for those who don’t have access to a gym or heavy weights at home, a group of Danish sports scientists has developed and tested a method for getting the same results while cycling.

Published in scientific journal Frontiers, the test involved 24 cyclists, including a control group who did their usual training, and a group  performing ‘maximal acceleration training’ as a supplement to their usual training.

This involved the riders slowing to around 5kmh, switching into a high-ratio gear and then applying maximum effort to accelerate the bike for 20 pedal strokes (ten each side).

The riders repeated the accelerations 10 times, with a two-minute rest of light pedalling in between each.

The test group performed this session three times a week for 12 weeks (both the test and control groups spent the same amount of time training on their bikes).

At the end, the researchers noted a 4% increase in maximal power output during a seven-second seated sprint in the test group, while the control group’s performance actually deteriorated by 3% for the same test over the same period.

An improvement of 4% may seem minimal, but it could make all the difference in that attempt on your local KoM. More importantly, the researchers discovered no adverse effects on other aspects of the cyclists’ performance, such as endurance and aerobic fitness.

There’s no downside, so why not give maximal acceleration training a try?

Cyclist Australia/NZ