As cyclists, you definitely need strong legs, so let’s look at some leg strengthening exercises for cycling that you can use to give you the edge over your competitors.
Having those carved and bulging leg muscles are the first signs that people will recognize you as a cyclist and that you’ve got the means to kick some ass.
But apart from your quads just looking pretty in your spandex, these four muscles are the primary movers when you push those bicycle pedals, so stronger quads means more watts for you.
Why Are Leg Strengthening Exercises For Cycling Important?
Because cycling is a power sport, you need your legs to be strong so that they can crank out that power. This means building all the muscle fibers that you can. If you can get even 20 percent stronger than your competitors you won’t fatigue as quickly and you will have that much more energy in reserve when you need it to burst up a hill.
The size of your quads will depend on things like your height and your genes. I am sure that you have noticed that shorter people seem to have stockier legs. Remember too that easy spinning at high cadence develops less muscle than if you work at pushing harder on those pedals.
Powerful quads come in all shapes and sizes, and while some are willowy and others look like tree trunks, they should all do the same admirable job of getting a bike to move faster.
Luckily to build your quad strength there is no need to spend hours at the gym each day. You only need a few key moves to help you to spin stronger and faster.
Before adding weight to the exercises below, try performing them with bodyweight only to nail down your form first. Once you’re comfortable with the technique, incorporate weights slowly, using light dumbbells to start and gradually going heavier.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a weight that allows you to lift to “momentary fatigue” – the point at which you can’t perform another rep with proper form.
Perform two to four sets of 8 to 12 reps once a week during the cycling season, and two to three times per week during the off-season to rebuild.
Off Bike Exercises:
Exercise Number 1: Side Step and Kick
Start standing to the right of a box or step with your hands at your sides (with or without dumbbells).
Step 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.
Exercise Number 2: Bulgarian Split Squat
Stand holding dumbbells with your back to a standard bench or box.
Reach 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 left foot to return to starting position.
Complete 10 reps; then repeat the same exercise on the other leg.
Exercise Number 3: Lunge Split Jump
Start standing then 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.
Perform 5 jumps on each leg for 10 jumps total.
Exercise Number 4: Slide Lunge
Stand with feet shoulder-width distance apart.
Place a paper plate or towel underneath the right foot. Shift your weight to left leg and clasp hands in front of chest for balance.
Send hips back as you bend right knee and slide left foot out while lowering into a lunge.
Remember to keep left knee over toes and chest lifted. Slowly pull the left leg in and rise back up to the starting position.
Repeat for 15 reps, then switch sides.
Exercise Number 5: Squats
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 back to starting position.
Perform 10 reps.
Exercise Number 6: Walking Lunge
Stand holding dumbbells at your sides.
Take a giant step forward with the left leg with the right knee towards 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. Continue for 20 paces, 10 on each leg.
On Bike Exercises:
Exercise Number 1: Single-Leg Pedalling
Your rectus femoris is the quad muscle that runs straight down the front of your thigh and it helps you to flex your hip. You need to flex your hip to pull the pedals up and down.
A great way to get a silkier pedal stroke is a single-leg pedaling drill. Most people can pedal with one leg for about 30 seconds before they get tired. This is because the hip flexors get neglected when you use both legs because the leg pushing down is always pushing the other back up.
Sit on an indoor bike with one foot clipped in and the other unclipped and propped on a chair or stool. 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 usually will 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.
Exercise Number 2: Over Gear Intervals
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. Do once or twice a week.
Note: This one is not for people with knee problems.
Here are some more leg strengthening exercises for cycling to try at your local gym, but be careful not to start with weights that are too heavy or you could injure yourself.
Trust I have been able to help you here with some great leg strengthening exercises for cycling. Please comment below if you have any others to add.