My 60-year-old dad and I both added one 30-minute strength workout a week on top of our usual riding, here’s the difference it made

Few of us want to forgo bike time for picking up and putting down heavy objects. But what if it’s worth the sacrifice? Alex Ballinger tests the benefit of six weeks’ strength work - and ropes in his dad for good measure

Alex Ballinger in a goblet squat in the gym, while his dad Tony is in a goblet squat at home
(Image credit: Future)

Strength training is practically a forbidden phrase among some cyclists. Mention the gym around your club-mates and you may be exposing yourself to a bombardment of criticism. Some two-wheel purists believe that lifting weights is only for the Instagram-obsessed fitness buffs more interested in abs than aero. In the past, even the professionals have been divided on their views on strength training for cyclists, but among the modern peloton, more and more elite riders are hitting the gym to boost their performance on the bike. Should all of us be following suit?  

The pivotal question for time-crunched amateur riders is whether it’s worth investing hours that could otherwise be spent on our bikes. If you’re only able to ride two or three times a week, does sacrificing bike time to lift weights really pay off? In pursuit of answers, I decided to get stuck in with a cycling specific strength training programme. My mission: to undertake a six-week schedule to test if it was possible to boost cycling performance with just one short workout, on top of my cycling, per week. 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Alex's results
Row 0 - Cell 0 BeforeAfter
Swipe to scroll horizontally
Tony's results
Row 0 - Cell 0 BeforeAfter

Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.