Question: You’ve mentioned using leg presses for cycling-specific weight training. Do you see any benefit from leg curls and calf raises? — Fred I.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I think leg curls are a good exercise to supplement leg presses or squats. They develop the hamstrings and help balance strength on the front and back of the leg.
However, they don’t directly improve cycling performance. When pedaling, we pull up slightly on the backstroke using the hamstrings, but power comes from pushing forcefully down.
As for calf raises, biomechanical studies show that the calf contributes virtually nothing to the pedal stroke. It’s basically a cable that connects the foot on the pedal to the power production unit of the quads and glutes.
It’s fine to work on your calves for nicer looking legs, but it won’t improve your riding.