Question: Last winter I rode about 75-100 miles per week, combined with circuit weight training once a week. The leg presses often made me too sore to ride. I was careful to warm up, stretch and limit knee bend to 90 degrees. Any ideas? — Wayne R.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: I suspect that lifting only once a week might be part of the problem. If you lift two or three times per week, the muscles and tendons become accustomed to the load, and the soreness goes away. Lifting only once every seven days means that each time is like starting over again.
Think about your weight-training program, too. Circuit training has been shown ineffective in building strength and not particularly useful for endurance, either. There’s nothing wrong with using it for six weeks in the late fall as a way to condition your body for weight training. After that, I recommend a more traditional combination of sets and reps.
As for specific exercises, work into leg presses (or squats) extremely slowly.
Start with a good warm-up before lifting. I like to ride to the athletic club to loosen my quads and break a sweat. Then I do some bodyweight squats. Ten or 15 minutes on a stationary bike works fine, too.
For your first leg-press workout, use a weight no greater than your body weight. Do only one set of about 15 reps.
Two or three days later, do two sets. Two or three days after that, do three sets. Then increase the weight no more than 10-20 percent a week. In a month, you will have accustomed your muscles and connective tissue to the strain. Then you can begin a more aggressive program.
Much depends on your past history with the exercise. The more experience you have with leg presses, the faster you can increase weight, reps and sets.