Training

Can You Mingle Cycling And Strength Training As A Beginner?

November 19th 2019

Can you combine cycling and resistance training to get the best of both worlds? Lifting weights ensures you retain muscle mass as you age. Your added strength protects you against common injuries. Overloading yourself with too much cycling can hinder the effects of your training. This is because it burns the calories needed for muscle recovery. Too much cardio can also slow your ability to build muscle. This is why finding that balance is so important. Incorporating cycling the right way can be very beneficial. Cycling for only two to three hours a week is an easy addition to your workout routine. 

Combining Cycling And Weight Training

As a strength training beginner, place more emphasis on developing strength. Cycling can be added in order to improve your cardiovascular performance. However, if you are a cycler looking to add a new weight training routine, start off with a beginner routine, like Starting Strength and stay consistent with the routine for at least one year.

The Benefits

Combining cycling and weight training improves your quality of life. Cycling provides positive health benefits. For beginner strength athletes, incorporating cycling can lay the best foundation with your strength training. Every lifer will have different goals, but for all beginner strength athletes, there are strength training exercises that are essential. One goal is to build endurance and increase muscle size that, in turn, can be converted to power. 

Start Slow

Start with a barbell strength set of exercises. The barbell is a simple yet essential piece of equipment that is sure to increase strength. The barbell pushes your muscles and joints while challenging your balance. According to a journal published by ScienceDirect, the incorporation of barbell exercises can show substantial strength gains in as soon as four weeks. More specifically, deadlifts can act to increase your jump performance. Other vital barbell exercises that will improve your strength include squats, bench press, rows, and overhead presses.”

A study published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that “ healthy athletes who already perform traditional resistance exercises, such as the deadlift, squat, power clean, push-press, and Russian-style rotation, are likely receiving sufficient core stability training …Traditional resistance exercises, such as the deadlift, squat, power clean, push-press, and Russian-style rotation, can be modified further to place greater emphasis on core stability.”

Why Cycling Gets a Bad Rap

People think that incorporating cardio exercises into their strength exercises will keep them “small” and stunt muscle gains. That is no longer the case. According to long-term human studies, evidence has been provided that there is no conclusive proof that cardio inhibits muscle strength over time. 

The “old” science is why cardio, such as cycling, gets a negative stigma. The old studies provided that when you engage in a steady routine of cycling, you run down your energy reserves. This activates a compound called AMPK. Hence, cardio gets a bad rap because the outdated studies insinuated that incorporating cardio would sabotage your ability to increase your strength gains. 

According to another journal published by PLOS ONE in 2019 tackled the previous theories that the combination of cardio and strength training hurt strength gains. The study compared two groups. One group consisted of strength training only, and the other group performed lifts while incorporating a steady-state of cycling for thirty to sixty minutes into their workout routine. The study revealed that both groups improved their leg presses by the same amount, but the lift plus cardio subjects gained more muscle than the other group that only performed lifts. The study points out that it is not clear why the second group gained more muscle. It is believed that it is because the cycling triggers type I endurance muscle fibers, whereas the heavy lifting works mostly type II muscle fibers. 

Cycling and Muscle Tone

The studies conducted have proven that the combination of cycling and strength training did not hinder strength gains, but it actually led to enhanced body composition. Cycling primarily emphasizes a concentric force where the muscles tighten as they contract while all are happening in one place, no lateral movements. 

Proving the right balance of cycling and strength training can help you maximize your results and push you towards your strength goals. Core strength is a must for cycling because it supports the muscles in your legs, which prevents injury. As long as you do not overdo it, it will not negatively impact your strength training. 

The motion in a cycling pedal stroke challenges twelve to fifteen different muscles that are consistently firing throughout the sequence. 

Another study found that “[c]ombining endurance training with either explosive or heavy strength training can improve running performance, while there is most compelling evidence of an additive effect on cycling performance when heavy strength training is used.”

Where Is Your Balance?

Balance is absolutely critical when adding cycling to your routine. You do not want to sacrifice losing your muscle mass. You want to get the most out of your strength routines. It is important to be well-rounded to reap the benefits of your true potential. It is important to mix up your workouts. Performing the same regimen everyday deprives your other muscles that are required to enhance muscle mass and increase strength gains. 

Beginners may worry about cycling being too much for their legs. The solution here is to become familiar with your body and its recovery process. For example, you experience sore muscles. Sore muscles are the result of an intense workout that damages your muscles. You must allow time for your muscles to heal. If you are sore, take it easy or work on a different muscle group. If you wait for the soreness to dissipate, you will progressively become stronger and maintain greater endurance. Pushing through sore muscles is not efficient as it can damage the muscles. Not allowing proper recovery time can lead to a setback for several weeks. 

Overloading yourself with too much cycling can hinder the effects of your training. This is because it burns the calories needed for muscle recovery. Too much cardio can also slow your ability to build muscle. This is why finding that balance is so important. Incorporating cycling the right way can be very beneficial.

Incorporating approximately thirty to sixty minutes of cardio up to three to four times a week is ideal for advanced weightlifters and competitors. Beginners should ease into adding cardio to their routine and perhaps adding thirty minutes of cycling two days a week. You understand your body better than anyone else, and it is important to find what works best for you as you progress with lifting and maximizing your strength. The proper balance and combination of cycling will provide strength gains and muscle maintenance without compromising the t benefits of strength training. 

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