Benefits of Agility Training for Cyclists

⸞ Odelle Joubert

Generally, when we hear “agility training” we think it’s just fast-paced, quick-footed drills that professional soccer, rugby, tennis players or runners need to do to be quick on their feet to improve their performance.

Cyclists don’t usually think of agility as a necessary training aspect and wouldn’t consider agility workouts on the bike as beneficial, but when we talk about agility training for cycling we are talking about high speed drills that significantly increase pedal efficiency. Agility boosts the efficiency and speed of your pedal stroke by using a lot less energy but pushing out the same or even more power than you would without this kind of training.

With our main goal in mind of increasing strength, power and endurance, agility should be an essential part of your training plan as it’s the foundation of any cycling program and is fundamental to increasing your capacity to build a great deal more strength, power and endurance than you would without this type of training. These skill sets are the most important “ingredients” required to boost your performance and take your cycling to the next level but it all stems from speed drills that increase agility which will get you to your end goal of riding stronger for longer in less training time.

All races required a combination of these cycling “ingredients” (also referred to as skill sets or abilities) to increase performance. As these are all very different abilities they should be trained separately for maximum over all gains.

So, the perfect mix of “ingredients” which should be done through a structured program for maximised increased performance work as follows:
1. Speed; turning over the pedals as quickly as possible
2. Strength; pushing the pedals against a very high resistance inhibiting lactic acid build up
3. Power; the combination of speed + strength – the ability to apply the greatest amount of maximal force in the shortest time

With the above skill sets we develop Speed and Muscle Endurance. This is the ability to sustain a high cadence (speed) for an extended amount of time with increased power, using the least amount of energy. This, for any cyclist is the ultimate goal of becoming a stronger, faster cyclist achieving the goals we set ourselves but in a surprisingly shorter space of time.

So instead of thinking that agility is only for professional athletes to be quick on their feet, cyclists need to think of agility or speed training as a very important skill set which requires specific focus and structure to benefit from this kind of training which can bring you closer to you goal in a shorter period of time

Benefits of agility are endless but to name few:
1. Build fatigue resistance and endurance, so you can push-on, even when you’re tired
2. Increases your capacity to build speed, strength, power and muscle endurance
3. Improved mind-body connection using less energy to push out the same amount of power
4. Assist injury prevention by making the ligaments and tendons supple
5. Improved balance and co-ordination = efficient energy consumption
6. Improved recovery time due to the efficient metabolic (cardio) intervals
7. Increased results in minimal time – training effective workouts
8. Build strength in the musculoskeletal system which shortens recovery time

If you really want to maximise your training and reach your goal of getting faster, then including high intensity speed work into your training is a must.