I have previously done the starting strength program, which puts emphasis on compound exercises with a lower body focus. Recently I have started commuting to work on my bicycle, and my commute includes a steep hill-climb at the end of the day. After that, the last thing I want to do is squats.

My lower body and core get a sufficient workout, so I would like to compliment this with upper body strength training. I have adjustable dumbbells and enough gym experience to train myself.

My question is, what is a good upper body focused strength routine (preferably requiring only a dumbbells and chin-up bar) for a cyclist?


I don't see any specialized requirements for a cyclist other than "avoid squats because my legs are fried", so a generic upper-body strength workout sounds fine. One slapdash version might look like this:

  • Three sets of pull-ups for maximum reps with good form
  • Overhead dumbbell press, warming up to three heavy sets of 8

If you have heavy enough dumbbells to make it challenging, push presses are also great.

Another version of the same basic workout (one pull, one push, no bench or barbell) might be alternating between sets of push-ups and pull-ups. You could also play with renegade rows (push-ups on the dumbbells, pulling one dumbbell up between each push-up). Dips and one-arm rows are also great.

Over the long term, I'd make sure to do one push and one pull in each workout. Those pushes and pulls could be swapped out (e.g. trade dips for push-ups) as you start to reach diminishing returns or boredom in one exercise. I'd also recommend at least a little bit of deadlifting and even squatting. This would make sure your hamstrings stay strong and you get some heavy, short leg work amidst all the long-duration cycling work.

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