As a cyclist, you’d never saddle up and spin 25km/h around the same 50km loop three times a week expecting to make measurable fitness gains.
Yet many riders do just that in the gym: We go in and lift things up and put them down 10 times, rest, repeat, and wonder why we don’t seem to be getting any stronger.
Just as you need to vary your intensity on the bike with intervals, endurance and threshold rides to improve your fitness, you need to challenge your muscles on a variety of levels to build more strength, power and stamina.
You can start shaking it up – and boosting your results – right now by using a training method called daily undulating periodisation (DUP for short).
DUP training mixes high- and low-intensity exercise as well as volume into the same week, surprising your cycling muscles every workout with different sets, reps and weights.
In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, exercisers who followed this type of undulating plan for 12 weeks increased leg-press strength twice as much as exercisers who followed a more traditional strength training plan without weekly variation (56% versus 26%), though both groups performed identical training volume over the course of the study.
“By constantly challenging your muscles in different ways, they continue to adapt, so you’re less likely to hit a plateau,” says study author Wayne Phillips, PhD.
You’re also less likely to get bored. Here’s how it’s done.
Schedule your training days
The best training plan incorporates three degrees of strength workouts. On light-weight days, perform two sets of 10 to 12 repetitions. On medium-weight days, perform three sets of 8 to 10 reps. On heavy-weight days, complete four sets of 4 to 6 reps.
Simply rotate through leaving at least 24 hours between strength training sessions.
Do the moves
You can apply DUP programming to your current strength-training regimen. Or try the quick-hit, cycling-specific workout below to put more power in your pedals, pronto.