It’s important to weight train as you age.
Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you’ll still have some muscle loss.
So, it is particularly important for senior athletes to compensate with a regular weight training program. Joe Friel, author of Faster After 50, recommends doing sport specific strengthening exercises several times a week. Sport specific 🤔 For me, those are the muscles that turn the pedals.
I used to complete a full body workout but for the past several months, I have focused on my legs and core. These are the most important muscles for cyclists. I do single-leg exercises – leg presses, extensions, and curls – twice a week, and a series of core exercises – oblique twists, crunches, planks, and the Palloff Press – three times a week.
But I have my favourites, exercises I would do regardless. My favourites? The Palloff Press and the Seated Leg Press. If I could only complete two exercises, these would be the ones. They are the most effective exercises a cyclist can do👌 Over the years, I have tried a variety of other exercises. Squats. Deadlifts. Lunges. Crunches. Pilates floor mat exercises. They are fine, but not as effective.
The Leg Press strengthens the quads, hamstring and glutes – the key muscles powering the pedals. I do this exercise one leg at time, attempting to balance my leg strength. My left side is dominant, and stronger, so I make certain I lift the same weight with both legs.
This video demonstrates how to do this exercise correctly, and avoid possible injury.
And, the Palloff Press strengthens the core muscles, the muscles that stabilize the cyclist on the saddle, and prevent injuries. They include a complex set of muscles – the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae especially the longissimus thoracis, the diaphragm, latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius.
That’s a lot of muscles.
You probably haven’t heard of most of them. The thing is, the Palloff Press engages them all. I prefer completing the exercise using a cable machine, but it can also be done with a resistance cord as well. No exercise strengthens this set of core muscles more quickly, and effectively.
Have a look at how to do this correctly.
I gradually increase the loads by increasing the number of reps and/or sets completed. At the end of each month, I test my 1-Rep Maximum (1RM) for the leg press to determine my power to weight ratio, a strength measurement I track throughout the year. The better the ratio, the better I climb, and the faster I travel.
If you haven’t tried these exercises, and want to be a stronger cyclist, give them a try. Start with smalls weight until you have mastered the movements, and gradually increase the loads as you progress.