How do I get faster?
The above linked article is really, really good. Definitely read it.
Now, with that out of the way, here’s my latest contribution to the discussion about the never-ending question on the tip of the tongue of pretty much every cyclist I’ve ever met…
How do I get faster?
The simplest answer is that you need to train the muscle groups outlined in Mike Schultz’s article above. Like all training, that’s going to mean an investment of time and effort. And before anyone gets all huffy at me about encouraging people to improve their riding by doing anything other than riding, take a deep breath – think happy thoughts – and relax.
You definitely need time in the saddle. Ride. Ride more. Then ride some more. If you’ve got time to ride daily, then definitely do that. Rinse. Repeat.
If you don’t have time to ride daily, or you’re like me and you are lucky if you can get out and ride once a week then you need a different approach. Squats, lunges, single-leg deadlifts… all that good stuff will help.
Here’s where I’ll diverge with Mike (and many other folks). You also need to develop upper body strength, mobility and flexibility. You also need to do core work (meaning: everything from your pecs to the tops of your thighs) for stability. The more supple and stable you are from your hips to your shoulders the more durable you’ll be.
Now if your thing is racing it’s ok to be imbalanced and lower body dominant. But if you’re a recreational rider who wants to crank out miles and enjoy your rides (and be able to enjoy them as you age) being imbalanced is a bad idea. To avoid imbalances in strength and muscle development you need a full-body fitness program you can do (and will do) consistently, on and off-season.
It’s that “will do” part that trips so many people up. Finding a program that you enjoy enjoy enough to stick with can be tricky. Then, once you’ve got it, getting motivated to stay on your program and get it done every day is another hurdle. For me, right now, it’s P90X3. I’m a certified Tony Horton groupie, and I love the mix of workouts he throws at you. Any time I start doubting the effectiveness of his programs I will meet someone like the woman I met today who told me that she’d done P90X as her sole training for the SF Marathon. She’d meant to mix runs in with her program but it didn’t happen. She ended up beating her PR for the event by over 30 minutes.