Cycling is a power sport and you need leg strength to crank out that power. In this article, we will look at how to get stronger legs for cycling with some great exercises that you can do to achieve this.
If you can get your legs ten or even 20 percent stronger than your competitors, you won’t fatigue as quickly and you will have so much more power in reserve when you need to give a burst up a hill or even off of the starting line.
Having those bulging carved quads are like a flashing neon sign that announces to the world that you are a cyclist and you can kick some ass.
The size of your quads depends on a lot of factors which include:
- height – shorter riders tend to have stockier legs.
- your genes – some people like sprinters have fast-twitch muscle fibers that pop.
- what type of riding you are doing – spinning easily at high cadence develops less muscle than pushing uphill on those pedals.
But remember that powerful quads come in all shapes and sizes, and even if you are not happy with the look of yours, the aim is to get them stronger so that they can all do the same good job of getting the fastest and most powerful ride that you can.
To build your quad strength, you should be doing it both on and off of your bike. You only need a few key moves to get your quads strong.
There are some exercises below for you to work on.
Once you get comfortable with them and have the correct technique you can start to add weights slowly. Start with lighter dumbbells and gradually get heavier as you get stronger.
You should be too tired to do another rep with the correct form by the end of your reps to know how heavy your weights should be or when to add weights.
Do two to four sets of 8 to 12 reps once a week during cycling season and two to three times a week during off-season to rebuild those quads. I have also added some quad strengtheners at the bottom that you can do on your bike.
How To Get Stronger Legs Off Your Bike
Bulgarian Split Squat
Stand holding dumbbells with your back to a standard bench, chair or box.
Reach your right foot back and place the top of the foot on the box. Bend left leg to lower the right knee down toward the floor. When the left thigh is parallel to the floor, push through the left foot to return to the starting position.
Do 10 reps on each leg.
Sidekick And Step
Start standing to the right of a step with hands at sides (with or without dumbbells). Squat then step the left foot onto the box.
Press through left heel to lift the body up while swinging the right leg out to the side as high as possible. Return to the squat.
Do 10 reps, then switch sides.
Lunge Split Jump
Start standing with your feet together. Step left foot forward and lower down into a lunge so that both knees form 90-degree angles. Swiftly, press into left heel to jump up and switch your legs in the air in a scissors motion, landing with right foot forward. You can use your arms for momentum and balance. When the left knee grazes the ground, jump again.
Do 5 jumps on each leg, making it 10 jumps in total.
This one is an old favorite.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, with hands clasped at chest. Send hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat until thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep chest lifted. Press through heels to return to starting position.
Do 10 reps.
Stand holding dumbbells at your sides. Take a giant step forward with left leg and right knee toward the floor.
Both knees should form a 90-degree angle. Press into left heel to rise back up to standing, then repeat with right leg.
Do 20 paces, 10 on each leg.
How To Get Stronger Legs On Your Bike
Your rectus femoris is the quad muscle that runs straight down the front of your thigh and this is the one that helps to flex your hip. This helps for the pulling up and pushing down action of the pedals.
Most people can pedal with one leg for about 30 seconds before they fatigue because the hip flexors get neglected when you use both legs because the leg pushing down is always pushing the other back up. So this exercise is designed to get your legs stronger so they can work hard for longer.
Sit on an indoor trainer or a recumbent bike with one foot clipped in and the other unclipped and propped up somewhere.
With the bike in an easy gear, begin pedaling at a comfortable cadence, concentrating on keeping a smooth pedal stroke through the top (where it will usually feel hardest).
Spin like that for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat 3 to 4 times. Finish by pedaling easy with both feet clipped in. Build up to being able to single-leg pedal for 3 to 4 minutes on each leg.
Low RPM Grind
Big-gear work yields big quad development. Try to keep your cadence below 60 rpm and push steadily for about 5 minutes. Then rest and repeat for 2 to 3 sets.
Over Gear Intervals
(Note: don’t do this one if you have knee problems)
On a flat stretch of road, shift into a big gear that slows you down to about walking pace.
Stay in the saddle and forcefully, but smoothly, push the pedals, increasing your pace until you’re at top speed. Hold there for about 30 seconds and then shift back down, spinning easily to recover for 1 minute.
Repeat 5 to 8 times and do once or twice a week.