Transfer strength training to the power of cycling

Transfer strength training to the power of cycling

TOOLBOX: With April in full swing, many of us are watching the weather, looking forward to getting outdoors rather than staring at a computer screen or wall while we ride. With that excitement comes the expectation that all of our time and hard work in strength training this winter will show immediate returns on the bike.

But many are missing the essential key to transferring strength training to performance on the bike. While last month we were talking about plyometric progressions, which of course are part of this transfer, there’s a bit more to the picture. Let’s make ourselves stronger where it counts!

Towards greater transfer

Transferring into the world of bodybuilding for performance is a key principle, which should always be kept in mind and directed towards. However, in order to achieve the greatest transfer, we must first lay the foundation for a more mobile human body.

This is where “the basics”, or what we call the “fundamental 5+1” human movements of stability Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Press and Rotary, must be learned to the point of mastery and then reinforced. . high. We layer this strength until we have built quality movement patterns with room for strength and resilience for the muscles and tissues needed for the sport.

Unfortunately, many get stuck in this stage, thinking that more physical strength will help them perform better. For our sport of cycling, as well as almost every other sport that isn’t Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, or CrossFit, simply riding for strength often gives you rapidly diminishing returns over time. energy and effort invested.

This is where shifting our focus to power with control comes into play.

Quick squats

By changing our focus in our strength training from lifting heavy (after the appropriate delay) to moving (MUCH) lighter weights with exceptional control and speed, we are increasing the level of transfer to our cycling sports.

Speed ​​squats can be a great tool for doing this, especially if you’ve been doing squats regularly throughout your core strength program. If you haven’t been doing squats consistently throughout your core period strength program, you’ll want to select the “squat” move that you’ve loaded consistently.


Start by ESTIMATING your 1 rep max, based on what a “heavy” set your squat has been for the past 2-3 weeks, using this calculator.

Then multiply your ESTIMATE of one rep max by 0.20 to calculate 20% of your ESTIMATE of one rep max.

Then multiply your ESTIMATE one rep max by 0.30 to calculate 30% of your ESTIMATE one rep max.

Start with the LOWER 20% number and use it for your first set of fast squats.

Sample speed squat video
(For this example video, I’m performing front squats, as it’s the variation of the squat I’ve been training regularly for over 5 years.)

DON’T GO HEAVIER THAN 30%! This loses the exact transfer we are looking for!

Note that there is complete control over the entire movement. There is no bounce and the bar stays in a relatively straight line from the top of the squat to the bottom.

The hips should come to a full standing position without locking the knees or hips.

Each repetition should flow from one to the next, smoothly and smoothly.

The spine remains neutral throughout, with no forward flare or backward arch – all movement occurs from the hips.

The goal is as fast as possible, over the entire range, with HIGH speed, for 2-3 reps.

If your “big technique” range of motion for the squat is a quarter or half squat, use only that range for this exercise.


  • Start with 5 sets of 2 reps, with a full rest of 3-5 minutes in between.
  • Work up to 6 sets of 3 reps.
  • The main focus is speed with great control and great technique.

Programming speed squats

Speed ​​squats should be incorporated into your strength training day at the start of the week, after your dynamic warm-up. Best practices would start with a light warm-up of 8-10 reps focusing on great technique and keeping the path of the bar straight.

Some find it helpful to do a single set of 6-8 reps with medium-light weight to help them dial in their “feel” of the movement for the day.

As you rest between sets of fast squats, you can perform a light breathing exercise or a dynamic stretch. However, if you choose to do so, these should be gentle and not put pressure on the body. We need your nervous system to be able to shoot 100% for these sets.

I often schedule fast squats one day of the week, with loaded squats or a squat pattern on the second day.

More is not better – Higher quality is better.

One day a week of speed squats is a perfect dose.



Adding plyometrics and progressing through them is part of getting better transfer from your strength training to your riding, but sprinkle in speed squats (done with great technique and proper rest between sets) is like the “Miracle-Gro” for your cycling earnings. Try them, but make sure you’re getting enough protein (minimum 1.6g/kg) and appropriate amounts of healthy fats in your daily diet, and getting a regular 7-9 hours/night of sleep, as they are very difficult neurologically. and it is not uncommon to see a little soreness the next day.

If you want to learn more about strength training for performance versus strength training for general fitness, join me at my masterclass on June 27, 2023 at the Science in Cycling conference in Bilbao, in Spain, go to: science-cycling. org/masterclass.

If you want to learn more about the ins and outs of creating weight training programs for cycling performance, sign up for the free Human Vortex Training newsletter where I share more insights, tips, and lots of great conversations.

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