One of the most frequent asked questions around cyclists on google is “How do cyclists get big legs?”
First thing to take note of is that cyclists can come from different disciplines and can have different goals which means they have to train in a completely opposite manner. Just like NFL players, the offensive linemen will train completely different to a wide receiver. A track sprinter versus a grand tour general will have different goals and objectives and thus will have completely different training programmes.
Track sprinters need to be able to produce optimal power very quickly on a flat surface so the power to weight ratio is crucial whereas a GC contender needs to be able to climb and race longer distances with as little fatigue as possible so weight is crucial. Therefore bigger legs as a GC contender would perhaps be a disadvantage.
But if you did want to get legs like Fostermann then you need to spend some serious time in the gym..
Weight training for cyclists
The focus shouldn’t be on getting bigger it should be on getting stronger and more powerful. They key to building that strength is to use heavier weights with lower reps. Your main aim is to get the neural benefits of strength training; essentially working on the way muscle fibres are recruited, so in using heavier weights at lower rep counts will help increase your ceiling of strength.
For cyclists who focus on long rides and climbing then strength training in moderation will help them to maintain a better position on the bike and can help reduce fatigue. The best exercises to focus on are squats, deadlifts, lunges hip thrusts and step ups not venturing past 5 reps for improving strength.
Strength training on the bike
Strength training on the bike is also crucial as it will recruit the exact muscles that you need in the sport. Big gear efforts are obviously the first port of call here focussing on standing starts. For absolutely out and out strength go for one 20 second sprint every 3 minutes or so. For practising multiple attacks practice 20 second sprints with 40 seconds rest for 5 or 6 minutes.
Supplements to consider
Supplements are not essential however if you are looking for training assistance it may be worth looking into Beta Alanine which raises concentration of carnosine which reduces fatigue during explosive efforts. Creatine is another supplement to consider. This helps to fuel muscles during intense activity. Foods high in protein and carbohydrates will also play a fundamental role.
If you haven't already then check out some of our training gear - perfect for building that leg strength in the gym ;)