Here are 5 exercises that will make you a stronger, more powerful and efficient cyclist!
We all get involved in cycling for different reasons. Some enjoy it as a recreational activity, while others are trying to get fitter. Then there’s the competitive cyclist, who really pushes the limits of the human body. Whatever your reasons for riding a bike, you probably want to give it your best effort. Don’t miss out on these 5 great exercises that will help you become a better cyclist.
Exercise # 1. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
The single leg Romanian Deadlift, or RDL, is an exercise that focuses on strengthening muscles that often lag behind on cyclists. As a cyclist, you perform thousands of repetitions using only the pushing muscles of the leg. This repetition will make the quads and glutes stronger, but will create major muscle imbalances within your hamstrings and hip stabilizers. Muscle imbalances will eventually lead to injury and sideline you from cycling. They also cause aches and pains that may discourage you from cycling.
The single-leg RDL will strengthen these neglected muscles, keep them balanced, and help you to stay on your bike!
To perform a single-leg RDL:
- While holding a dumbbell in your left hand, stand up straight, keeping your shoulders back
- Bend your knees slightly
- Put your right hand on your hip
- Using your hip as a pivot point (hip hinge), lean forward on your right leg
- Lower the dumbbell until it is just past the midpoint of your shin
- Be sure to keep your back straight and maintain good postural alignment
- Slowly return to the starting position
Complete 8-12 reps, then repeat with the opposite leg.
Exercise # 2. Plank
The plank is one of the simplest and most popular core exercises performed in training programs around the world. The plank will help build strength and endurance in your core and lower back. This will assist you in biking with power and maintaining an aerodynamic position behind the handlebars.
To perform a plank:
- Begin in the push-up position with your arms extended
- Keep your hips down and maintain good postural alignment
- Hold the position, without breaking posture, for 30-60 seconds
Exercise # 3. Barbell Back Squat
The countless repetitions of cycling may make your legs extremely lean, but adding a solid strength base is a good idea. Developing more muscle and strength in your legs will help prevent your lower body from getting run down.
For competitive cyclists, adding barbell squats into your strength and conditioning program is particularly useful in the off-season, when strength should be a big priority. Try and keep the rep range fairly low in order to get the strength gains you’re looking for.
To perform a barbell back squat:
- Position yourself underneath a barbell, inside a squat rack
- Be sure to be centered on the barbell
- Grip the barbell as tight as possible with your hands wider than shoulder width
- Step out from the squat rack
- Keep your shoulders back and your back straight
- Slowly lower yourself into the squatting position until your upper legs become close to parallel with the floor
- Keep your shoulders back and return to the starting position
Complete 6-8 reps.
Exercise # 4. Rowing
Rowing is a great way to cross-train and give your muscles a change from cycling. Cross-training is a good idea for all athletes o help prevent injury. Rowing, in particular, is a perfect training method to improve your riding ability.
Rowing is considered a strength-endurance sport. This means that you’ll get stronger as your endurance improves, making it ideal for cycling. It is also a total body exercise, so you can target upper body muscle groups that get little use while riding a bike.
To use an indoor rowing machine:
- While in the seat, strap your feet into the pads
- Bring your knees up and grab hold of the handle bar
- Push-off the footplate
- When your arms have become fully extended, pull yourself back to the starting position
Repeat for 15-30 minutes.
Exercise # 5. Jump Squat
The jump squat is a ballistic exercise that is commonly used to improve power output in athletes. The jump squat involves an acceleration phase in which you produce a greater rate of force development (RFD).
This improved RFD will be particularly useful to you when you’re accelerating off the starting line, getting out of the way of dangerous vehicles, or anytime it’s necessary to dig deep and pedal hard.
To perform a jump squat:
- From the standing position, set your feet a little wider than shoulder width
- Keep your shoulders back and maintain proper postural alignment
- Squat down to the floor
- As explosively as possible, drive through your feet and jump into the air as high as you can
- Land gently and repeat immediately
Repeat 3-8 times.
Performing a quality strength and conditioning program will pay dividends when it comes time to get on the bike. It will keep you muscularly balanced, prevent injury, and improve your cycling performance. Good luck with setting up a routine to do all of these exercises at least twice a week!
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