Quadzilla! 3 Moves To Power Legs
This chiselled muscle is an unmistakable mark of the fittest, most dedicated cyclists. Here’s how to strengthen yours – and get enviable quads in the process. By Whit Yost
There are quads. Then there are cycling quads. And of the four muscles that make up the quadriceps, the one that’s come to signify the strongest, hardest-working riders – and the one that routinely turns heads on your rides – is the teardrop-shaped bulge just above the knee called the vastus medialis oblique: VMO for short.
Though muscle size and shape partly come down to genetics, there’s hope for your ‘second knee’. The muscle tends to get stronger in riders who remain seated more often and push bigger gears, says Mike Schultz, cycling coach and certified strength and conditioning specialist. This is because the muscle primarily engages in the 12-to-three o’clock phase of the pedal stroke, where you apply most of your downward power. But, he says, “All four quadriceps muscles are key in cycling. You want them all to be strong.” Here’s how to build quads that not only look good, but help you go faster, too.
In The Gym
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip width. Bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Don’t extend your knees past your toes. Return to standing. That’s one rep; do 2 to 4 sets of 15 to 20, with 1 to 2 minutes of rest between sets. Start with no weight, to emphasise good form, then add free weights as you progress. Choose the heaviest weight that allows you to complete all the reps with proper form.
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On The Bike
Find a hill with a gentle grade – start with five per cent. Stay seated and slowly grind your way up using as hard a gear as you can, while keeping your cadence above 60rpm. Do three 30-second intervals; gradually progress to five one-minute intervals. Recover for three minutes between each.
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Place your back against a wall and bring your thighs parallel to the ground – knees should be at a 90-degree angle, with your feet flat on the floor. Arms can be crossed or at your sides. Hold the squat for 30 to 60 seconds. Take a 30-second break. Repeat four to six times.