You need great power to blast up hills on foot or bike. Follow this muscle-building workout routine to make ascents easy.
Building up leg strength for both runners and cyclists can be the key to unlocking fresh personal bests over any race distances. Power growth should play a key role in all distances.
Power is measured in watts, and calculated by this easy equation: ‘force x distance / time’. As an athlete, the only variable in this equation that you can control is ‘force’, so if you would like your wattage to improve, that’s where you need to focus.
This workout routine includes a number of plyometric exercises, which are incredible for both runners and cyclists to develop a power base. The exercises are short and sharp, and require a wide range of motion and explosive power.
Use this workout routine to develop not only more powerful legs but also a stronger core that will help you put the power down efficiently.
Cardio attack for cyclists
Why: When you consider building power on a bike the simplest expression of this is wattage. Working in a high gear will develop leg strength. The most effective way to structure a high gear session is through intervals. Working at a higher resistance than you usually might but keeping the cadence high will build up the leg strength that could see you taking your next race by storm. In addition, it will encourage you to work on your technique.
How: Stand out of your saddle for 15 seconds developing your cadence, and then sit and try to keep the same cadence for 45-60 seconds. Take 1 minute rest, then repeat. Do 8 reps.
Cardio attack for runners
Why: As a runner you should focus on hill sprints. The gradient of the slope requires you to generate a greater force to move your body weight along a steeper plane. The longer stride of the sprint and the additional knee lift to accommodate the incline means your muscles will be working at a wider range of motion yielding greater strength results.
How: Sprint 50-80 metres up a 25-40 degree hill. Do 10 reps with a steady jog back down to the start. Don’t stop in between.
Why: Changing the direction in which you squat will dramatically alter the muscles which you target. A lateral squat can have a more quick effect on your groin (adductor) and glute medius. This is particularly useful for cyclists from a stretching and strengthening perspective to take pressure off the lower back.
How: Start with your feet together, then take a sideways step wider than your shoulder width, and sink through the heel of your travelling foot. Your weight needs to be balanced through your glute, which then engages along with your groin to carry you back up to standing position.
How many: 10 reps on each leg, rest, repeat 4 times.
Propulsive squat jumps
Why: Develop explosive leg power with these challenging jumps. Do them correctly and you’ll quickly feel the effort and the benefits.
How: In fact, this is a game of leapfrog without the frog. Sink into a squat position, monitoring to ensure your knees don’t track inwards. From the squat, jump as far forward as you can making sure you land with your knees bent and feet shoulder width apart.
How many: Do 10, rest, repeat 4 times.
Why: One of the more complicated movements, the plyo lunge targets muscle groups to work at the wider end of their range of motion. Your glutes are having to work very hard to carry out this exercise.
How: Sink into a lunge then power yourself upwards with your front thigh using your quad and glutes. Your feet should clear the ground in a vertical motion, once you’re off the ground swap your feet around so that you land with your feet altered around.
How many: Do a set of 20, rest, repeat 4 times.
Why: The free standing squat is the basis for any sportsperson. Performed properly you’ll strengthen your posterior chain of glutes, hamstrings, quads and hip flexors. Body weight squats will improve your mobility and strengthen key muscle groups.
How: With your feet shoulder width apart and your pelvis parallel to the ground, hold your chin up and chest raised skyward. Lower from the hips, and your knees should track over your toes but not beyond. Hold your weight through your heels, engage your glutes, and lower until your hip crease travels below your knees.
How many: Do 10-15 reps, rest, repeat 4 times.
Why: Box jumps are concept for increasing glute power as they are all about the concentric contraction of the glute muscle. Power comes from strong glutes, particularly if you’re attacking a hill or want to be a mountain runner.
How: Sink into a squat and concentrate on projecting the force through your heels as you propel yourself vertically. Don’t allow your knees to fold inwards and ensure you land with soft knees and with as much of your feet as possible on the box, bench or log.
How many: Do a set of 10, rest, repeat 4 times.
Why: Despite their name you don’t need a hurdle for these jumps, however it helps if you have or imagine there’s one. Basically, this is a propulsive tuck leap that requires an enormous amount of power to move your body weight both off the ground and forward.
How: Sink into a squat and force your weight through your heels. Don’t allow your knees to fold inwards. As you leap forward tuck your knees into your chest as if you were jumping over a hurdle.
How many: Do a set of 10, rest, repeat 4 times.
Why: This little muscle exercise can make a great difference. It’s a very simple exercise that could be carried out pretty much anywhere.
How: From a single legged position jump up onto a step, log or box that is at least 12-18 inches high. From here hop back down on the same leg and repeat the jump right away so that you have minimal contact time with the ground.
How many: Do sets of 10-12 on each leg, rest, repeat 4 times.