I am a cyclist that averages about 100 miles per week(mpw) between my commuting (50 mpw) and fun rides (varies 50-100 mpw). I want to build up my upper body strength and add some mass.

What sort of exercises and/or routines should I consider for general upper body strength and some increased mass?

If it will benefit my cycling that is great, but I am looking for more functional upper body strength and less specialized for my cycling.

For some context, I’m 31 years old, 5′10″, 190lbs. I carry a little extra pudge because I enjoy food, but I’m still decently athletic. I recently did a 60 miles bike ride averaging 19mph. This was a pleasure ride and not what I would call “race pace” for me.

  • Even for a pleasure ride, 19 mph is a decent pace.
    – JohnP
    Sep 20, 2018 at 0:33
  • Are you asking what exercises could build you upper body strength that will benefit you on your bike rides? Or do you just want to gain some upper body strength and mass in general?
    – MJB
    Sep 20, 2018 at 6:17
  • @JohnP, thanks! @ MJB, edited question, I am looking to build some strength and a little mass up top independent of my cycling. I am highlighting my cycling because I really love riding and don't want to sacrifice the amount of riding I do. I have anecdotally heard that cardio and strength training can conflict with each others gains, so looking for any advice I can get.
    – TRDillon
    Sep 20, 2018 at 11:17

1 Answer 1


I would suggest doing full body (or in your case full upper body) workouts in the form of either compound lifts (deadlifts, bench) or a form of bodyweight exercises (i.e. calisthenics). Here's why;

Both compound lifts and calisthenics incorporate multiple muscle groups during exercises rather than just one. They also both stimulate the use of the core in a lot of exercises. Having a strong core is very beneficial when riding a bike, so this will carry over to a better cycling performance and/or experience.

Both compound lifts and calisthenics will also give you functional strength rather when compared to bodybuilding style lifting.

The only downside with all of this is that you're going to gain some weight, assuming you're fat % stays the same and your muscle mass is going to increase. This isn't a bad thing during flat rides but if you want to do some cycling in a more hilly terrain, you'll notice that you're heavier than before.

I personally do all of the above, compound lifts, calisthenics and cycling and I can say, on flat rides having the extra weight has been a bonus for me. I have more power and balance on my bike. In the mountains I can definitely feel that I've become heavier which is alright because I don't race in the mountains anyway, I only go there to train and have fun.

Most (if not all) pro cyclists also combine compound lifts and bodyweight exercises to train their legs and core for extra power in the legs and extra balance on the bike (a lot of balance comes from your core).

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