Chris Hoy explains how to condition your body for extra power and pace

Adapt your training to improve your muscles and body conditioning for cycling

Former track cyclist and multiple world and Olympic champion Chris Hoy has some tips for beginner's on how to improve power and pace on the bike.

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1. Squat for power

Power on the bike is really built in the gym.

The best move is the squat which works the glutes but also uses what they call the Lombard’s paradox: basically, you’d think you can’t use opposing muscle groups but when you do a squat, both your knees and your hips are extending, which means the quads and the hamstrings are both contracting at the same time, even though they are antagonists.

The squat works all of the power muscles at the same time.

2. Boost your cadence

You can improve your cadence by working on your technique. Put your road bike on some rollers and practice short sprints with a high cadence. Keep your pedalling motion smooth and avoid bouncing.

With beginners, there is often a dead spot at the bottom of the pedal stroke when the brain hasn’t switched off and is still pushing, even though the other crank is coming up, so you are essentially working against yourself. The smoother your technique, the faster your cadence will be.

3. Fight the pain

In a sprint you also have to be able to tolerate the accompanying lactic acid build-up which can be very painful. I will ride my bike on an indoor trainer and do interval sessions — four sets of 30 seconds at close to sprinting speed, with one minute of recovery in between.

It is hard to do interval sessions effectively on a track or road but on an indoor trainer you can safely work to your absolute limit. Each time you think it’s the worst pain ever. It is grim but very effective training.

4. Repeat after me

There’s no point expecting to become faster by doing long, slow miles on the bike. If you want to beat your mates to the 30 sign, or have a quick spurt up a short climb then you need to do it over and over again.

Repetitions really are the key — pick a short hill and ride repeated sprints up it — do three or four giving it everything you’ve got to give then have a 30-minute spin and do it all again. These sessions are more effective if you do them fresh, so do it the day after you’ve had a rest away from the bike.

5. Feed your muscles

When you are working your muscles hard, your nutrition is really important. The biggest thing is to try to minimise DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), which is more than just lactic acid but also physical damage to your muscles.

On a micro level your muscle fibres are being torn apart, but that’s not a bad thing. That’s what you need to build more muscle for power. Have a shake with protein and carbohydrates within 20 minutes of your gym session to help your muscles adapt.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Rob Spedding

Editor-in-Chief, Cycling Plus, Cycling Plus Magazine
Editor-in-chief Rob has been pedalling Cycling Plus since 2007. His first proper road bikes were a Raleigh Sprint in the early 1980s and then a Trek 1000 in 1999. A former competitive runner, Rob has repeatedly threatened to become a competitive cyclist in every discipline from time-trailling to hill climbing to bike polo. We're still waiting.
  • Discipline: Road. Mainly commuting but with the occasional mountainous sportive that he'll complain about/fail to complete. Enjoys cake stops. Will never, ever do another triathlon after a bad experience in open water.
  • Preferred Terrain: Gently undulated roads – he's more of a rouleur. Likes gravel.
  • Current Bikes: BMC Alpenchallenge, Viner Perfecta, BMC Granfondo GF0, anything shiny that Warren Rossiter will allow him to ride
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Specialissima, Raleigh Banana
  • Beer of Choice: Innis and Gunn Original
  • Location: Bath, UK

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