By Luna Harrington
As a cyclist, are you looking to get better results when you ride? Maybe you’re aiming to get a competitive edge, increase your uphill power, or improve your performance on sprints.
Whatever your goals are, resistance training with bands will be the key to unlocking next-level performance.
Why Resistance Band Training is Good for Cyclists
To become a more efficient cyclist, even the most-beginner level riders need to incorporate some form of strength training into their weekly training routines. Factoring in just one to three workouts a week can produce significant results that will directly feed your performance on the bike.
Unless you’re a professional cyclist, the chances are you don’t have much time in your daily life to devote to extensive cross-training routines. Embarking on a progressive weight training program at the gym is all well and good for those who can devote their lives to cycling, but time is of the essence when it comes to balancing your job, family, and hobbies.
This is why you need to start doing regular resistance band training. No matter where you are or how little time you have, resistance bands can give you an effective workout without the hassle of having to travel to the gym or set up awkward equipment.
For a dynamic sport like cycling, resistance bands have the edge over conventional weights and dumbells.
When performing a banded exercise, the entire range of motion is carried out under tension, meaning that you activate and strengthen muscles on both the movement’s eccentric and concentric phases.
Eccentric training can lead to more robust and resilient muscles, enhanced joint control and proprioception, and even reduce the post-workout fatigue you may experience.
Tips for Creating and Implementing Resistance Band Training
Before you jump in all guns blazing and start doing every resistance band exercise you can think of, there are a few things to bear in mind first. To see results, you will need to commit to a regular cross-training program, so it’s essential to understand the type of bands you’ll need to use and focus on those exercises that will directly improve your cycling.
1. Not all Resistance Bands are Created Equal
Exercise enthusiasts are spoiled for choice when it comes to the variety of resistance bands that are on the market today. From mini bands to BOOTY BANDS with handles, and even heavyweight loop bands, each type of band offers specific benefits.
Mini-bands are geared more towards rehabilitation exercises, while heavyweight loop bands are intended more for explosive exercises and will promote muscular hypertrophy.
For the cyclist just starting out on a resistance band program, the most useful bands you can buy are booty bands (also called mini bands) and resistance bands with handles. Booty bands are a shorter and broader version of heavyweight loops, and they’re especially useful for lower and upper body activation, as well as building strength in the hips and glutes.
While you can train your upper body with shorter loop bands, bands will handles will give you a lot more versatility when it comes to specifically targeting your upper body. Their length also means you can easily attach them to an external support for movements that require rotation.
Don’t be ashamed of using lighter bands for certain exercises. Remember that the goal of any cross-training program is to be challenged without compromising on form and placement.
2. Train to be a Better Cyclist
As you embark on resistance training, you will notice that your body becomes stronger and more dynamic. But just being strong isn’t enough when it comes to being an efficient cyclist. Any strength you gain needs to translate to something useful when riding, such as more explosive sprints and the endurance to keep producing power over longer distances.
That’s why you need to be organized with your training regime and focus on periodization.
Don’t make the mistake of selecting exercises that are solely lower body focused. You need to strengthen and develop your whole self, not just your legs.
A strong core forms the power behind all movements, while upper body training will improve your posture in the saddle.
Foundational exercises that you should incorporate into your program include:
- Banded lateral walks and variants where the band is positioned around your ankles
- Banded narrow squats and banded sumo squats
- Banded glute bridges and single-leg bridges
- Banded push-ups
- Banded bent-over rows
- Pall of Press
3. Always Warm-up and Factor in Recovery Time
Resistance bands may seem unassuming, but when used properly, they pack quite a punch. Treat a workout session as precisely that by warming up properly and leaving time for recovery between sessions.
Take an active warm-up like you would for a cycling session. Simple movements like arm circles, hip rotations, bodyweight squats, and lunges will wake up your muscles and joints, while a few minutes of jump rope will get your heart pumping.
Once you’ve completed your resistance band workout and you have time, cool down with a 20-15 minute cycle. This should be taken at a leisurely pace; you’re not looking to do anything here other than gently keep the body moving.
It’s important to leave enough time between each cross-training session to give your body a chance to recover. Don’t underestimate just how effective resistance bands are at building strength; you will need to leave at least 24 hours between sessions to get the best results.
Consistency is Key
Remember that to get the best results from any cross-training program, consistency is key. Make the commitment to yourself to incorporate resistance band training into your schedule, gradually adding more workouts and progressing the exercises as you become more proficient.