Cycling Fitness with Adam Copley: Is the gym actually necessary?

Hello and welcome to the ADAM COPLEY: PERSONAL TRAINING blog. Over the coming weeks I will be introducing you to the world of cycling specific fitness. Highlighting the importance of training on and off the bike. As well as covering mindset, nutrition and all things cycling.

As a keen cyclist and mountain biker. It is my passion to see cycling become as inclusive as possible. welcoming people into the world I love and also doing my bit to help these people be the best version of themselves.

Whether you ride for fun, fitness or to compete, I hope this blog will provide you with some interesting reading. Let’s get into it:

This week I am going to aim to answer that one big argument in cycling. Is the gym actually necessary? Diving into the world of cycling fitness and the reasons for and against going to the gym.


Are gyms necessary for improvement?

We have all heard the arguments, on one side you have the “all you need to do is ride” crowd and on the other side you have the “gym’s are vital to be a fitter rider” side. Well, who is right?

This is a hot debate in the UK with gyms re-opening recently and many people deciding not to return to them. Whether you should use a gym comes down to a number of factors such as enjoyment, how comfortable you feel in them, if the gym relates to your goals and such.

Now I would say that some form of external training will definitely help improve your cycling experience. But I would not necessarily say this has to be done in the gym.

For example: It is a fact that having a strong core will make your body better conditioned to cycling, it is a myth that you must be ripped and train in a gym to have a strong core.

Another example: It is a fact that producing more power in your legs will make you a faster climber, and a faster cyclist. It is a myth that you have to train legs in a gym to achieve this.

I have been around the fitness industry for a while. And I am fully aware of how intimidating it can be to people.

Which is why I wanted to create this blog. So, let’s give a few examples of why the gym may or may not be necessary to improve your cycling, read into these descriptions and try and think which cyclist you are. Also, there is nothing wrong with being any kind of example below, this is your journey!

1: The “I just want to feel fitter “cyclist:

If you just want to feel fitter on the bike, then yes. It is perfectly feasible that you can achieve this while riding. This is probably why you got into cycling in the first place and if you love riding, without having the same love of the gym then why go? You can make enough performance gains to just feel healthier on the bike without going somewhere you don’t necessarily want to go.


2: The fair-weather cyclist:

We all know the people who don’t like to ride if the weather takes a turn, for these people having a turbo set up at home is often a cure. But, these are ridiculously expensive especially if you are not that into cycling. Having a gym membership (especially if your gym has WATTBIKES) can be a fantastic idea for these people. You can get in and out quickly, stay dry and don’t have to worry about your new FLAB jersey getting mucky. If you hate riding in the rain to the point at which you just refuse to do it, then a gym membership may be something to consider. You can work on your strength and conditioning here and your fitness when you are off the bike.

I use a WATTBIKE once a week and I have noticed a huge boost to my riding performance while using it.

3: The “STRAVAAAAAAA” cyclist:
We all know them. We have all been one of them at some point. The cyclist who loves being up there on the strava leader boards. The people who instantly look for an extra 5 watts when someone knocks them off that precious top spot (no one cares). For this kind of cyclist, the gym can be a great place to develop a more powerful body for cycling. Strength training and cardio work can be done here that will work the body in different ways to riding a bike will, ultimately improving performance.

4: The “serious about their racing” cyclist:

Unfortunately, I fall into this bracket. I love racing my bike, I love pushing my body to it’s limit in XC events and I love getting rowdy on enduro events. The gym for people like this is a necessity. It will help you become more powerful, more stable, more resilient to crash damage, more alert and switched on as a rider in general, more flexible. Honestly when you take your riding this seriously you will feel so many benefits of having a proper, structured strength and conditioning plan that you should be at the gym. I would not only suggest joining a gym if this is you. But I would also suggest signing up to some form of coaching too. With a coach who can guide you through the strength and conditioning process.


What if the gym isn’t for you?

So, after we (tongue-in-cheek) established what kind of cyclist you are, what if the gym isn’t for you but you do want to do something that can help improve your cycling?

Well, the good news is that there are a number of exercises you can do for your full body that don’t need any equipment, just your own body weight to be successful. And In the coming weeks I am going to cover these. Giving you a gym-based exercise and a non-gym-based exercise designed to work specific areas of your body, as well as covering why these areas are important for your cycling fitness.

So, have a think if the gym is for you, and get ready for the latest in a series of blogs coming right at you!

I hope you have enjoyed this article.

Ride safe.


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