This winter I focussed on strength rather than the usual cardio or conditioning. Doing mostly a starting strength type routine I took my squat from essentially nothing having never done it to 1.5xBW or 300 lbs. While it felt good to see the numbers tick up now that I have transitioned back to outdoor activities riding, running, climbing its amazing to see how little of an effect it had on… well anything. Comparing the first few months of any season to the first few months of my post weights season my bike workouts are slower with a higher heart rate then the last few years…
Is there any non anecdotal evidence that strength training benefits other activities in otherwise fit athletic individuals?
At this point I think I am coming to the conclusion that weight lifting makes you better at …. weight lifting. And probably has its place, but that place is a couple months in the fall off season to potentially help with imbalances and injury prevention
the big payoff for the increased leg strength will be noticed on steep climbs or sections where you need an extra burst of speed/power. more importantly though, the effect of your strength training on your riding will depend greatly on how your strength training routine was set up - some program designs will be more beneficial than others.
as for benefits as Duncan suggested there are articles out there that list the benefits, including but not limited to agility, co-ordination, flexibility, bone density, and cardiac output. i don't have a list handy but there is info out there. again though, the benefit depends on how your training routine is designed.
for the above reasons, weight training is something that should be implemented year round in varying degrees. what you have to decide first though is what type of "athlete" you are or want to be:
- an aerobic athlete that strength trains to complement your aerobic activities
- an all around athlete that is good at many things but great at nothing
- a sport specific athlete that strength trains to complement your main focus
- a strength athlete that does aerobic activities because they are fun
- someone who just likes to do a bunch of different stuff but has no desire to push the bar with any of them
there could probably be more catergories, but the idea is that your training should work with what your main goals are. from the sounds of it a simple 2X/wk routine that has a few compound lifts and take you about 45 min to complete will give you great crossover benefits and help you with your summer suit for the beach. in the below do the paired exercises together, basically one right after the other, and then take a 2-3 min break before doing the next set of the pair. also, do a warm-up set for each exercise before doing a working set. your working sets should be at about 75-80% effort; ie on the squat for sets of 7 use a weight you could do 9-10 reps for. have your workout days set 2-3 days apart and they don't always have to be on the same day, but aim to do 4 wokouts over the course of two weeks. this gives you plenty of flexibility with your schedule.
full body warm-up for 10min
standing one arm row (not using a bench for support) 3x7
superman planks 2x9
med/close grip incline press 3x7
chin ups 3x?
full body warm-up for 10 min
push press 3x7
weighted step ups 3x7
pull ups 3x?
weighted dips 3x7
snatch grip high pulls 3x7
weighted plank raises with a 3 sec hold at the top 2x9