Training in the Off Season
Research shows that exercising twice a week focusing on the correct muscles for a period of 4 weeks can boost your power by 17% and your lactate threshold by 3.5%. These results can be achieved by Top grade cyclists who are starting with a fit and well trained body and are able to withstand the forces generated by true plyometric exercises.
However, low intensity variations of plyometric exercises (or basic jumping exercises) can produce significant enhancements in body strength to the average person who just cycles for fitness and health benefits. The term ”plyometrics” originally only referred to high performance jumps designed to expand and contract the muscles in a brutally fast manner and could only be performed by top level athletes under supervision. The term has now become diluted and can refer to ordinary jumping exercises which do not shock the muscles to the original degree.
Plyometrics was first brought to recognition by the Russians for track and field events in the 1980 olympics. The American Coach and long distance runner Fred Wilt could not understand why the Russians were doing all of these jumps prior to their event while the Americans were doing multiple static stretches.
True plyometrics is a form of shock treatment to the muscles. It involves an athlete dropping from a height and experiencing a shock upon landing, they then immediately jump upwards. These two exercises must be executed in an extremely quick and explosive manner. The time between landing and takeoff should be 1/5th of a second.
The shock treatment that true plyometrics inflict on the muscles can be too severe and should not be practised by the very young, elderly or unfit athlete as there is a high level of stress on the joints. Plyometric exercises involve an increased risk of injury and should only be performed by well conditioned individuals who have good levels of physical strength and flexibility.
A top level cyclists who wishes to improve their power should study the exercises that shock the muscles and decide whether its for them. The jumps used are dumb bell jumps, depth jumps, countermovement jumps, squat jumps and tuck jumps. These exercises would need to be done under supervision
There are lower body and upper body plyometric exercises which can be done in the comfort of one’s home. The following clip shows Lance Armstrong who pioneered the fast pedalling technique (high cadence) and much more apart from the negative drug taking that he is now famous for, demonstrating some beneficial exercises that all cyclists would benefit from.
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