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You are here: Home / Up! Up! Up! / 04 - Off the bike, into the Gym / Philosophy


Why we train the way we do

Emily squat angles - holeThere's a number of schools of thought with regards to off the bike strength and power training for track sprint cyclists.  These can be split roughly into two broad schools.  "General Strength and Power" and "As close to on the bike as possible".

The second camp includes a lot of the first camp's general exercises but also focuses on mimicking metabolic and joint angle requirements as much as they can.

It is the opinion of the authors that, in particular for beginning track sprinters, a general strength program be carried out and the bike-specific metabolic and joint angle work is best done on a bike or ergo trainer.  As such, programs based on the "Big Five" exercises are what we recommend.  The Big Five are :

The Squat

The Deadlift

The Power Clean

The Press

The Bench Press

Each of these exercises elicits a significant strength adaptation but does require competent coaching to learn safely.  The squat is the cornerstone of any good strength program and we refer you to "Starting Strength, 3rd Ed" by Mark Rippetoe as the most through and important book on this subject.

If you're going to train for strength, that book needs to be in your library.


We avoid any strength training that's too close to the specifics of riding a bike as there's some evidence to suggest that by doing things that are very close, but not exactly the same, as a particular task, the assistance exercise may interfere with the main one.  Ie: Doing something very close to, but not the same, as pedaling can interfere with your pedaling.

We choose our repetition ranges to favour strength development, the following chart, from Practical Programming for Strength Training, 2nd ed, Rippetoe & Kilogore, shows how different repetition numbers effect the human body :

The rep-range continuum, from Practical Programming for Strength Training 2nd Ed, Rippetoe & Kilgore. Reproduced with permissionWe want to be strong, the part of a sprint that requires great strength is accelerations, generally from low speed or standing starts, as in the start of the Team Sprint, Kilo, 500m ITT and Keirin.  Having sufficient strength to push big gears as is required in modern sprints is critical to the development of a sprinter - we need to be seriously strong.  Get into the gym and lift!