Riding a bike is not just about turning the pedals. Your body and cycling will benefit from integrating strength and conditioning exercises that build your core strength, leg power, and help reduce the risk of injury.
These five exercises are simple strength-building drills taken from yoga and ‘functional trunk strength’ (a.k.a. core stability) workouts; they will help increase your comfort on long endurance rides, and also aid cycling performance improvements.
If you do one thing, SQUAT. Squatting is the most natural but most powerful weight training exercise that we can use for building cycling strength. The motion uses our powerful quadriceps, glutes, and lower back muscles in one fluid motion.
The key thing with squatting is to display good form. You do not want to be bent over like a hunchback.
A simple set of instructions for good squatting technique:
- Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, splayed at 30 degrees
- With your arms out in front of you for balance, lower by bending your knees so that your thighs are at least horizontal (parallel with the floor)
- Pause at the bottom then return to the start position (but without locking out your knees)
- Complete a set to exhaustion (until form begins to slip). Rest for 60 seconds. Repeat three times.
You can increase the difficulty of squatting by holding a weight in the goblet position in front of you or by using a Glute Resistance Band between your legs just above the knee.
Another great squatting technique is to squat against a wall, with a solid foam Massage DuoBall between your back and the wall. This ensures you keep a straight back throughout the motion (and you also get a free back massage!).
Start with your hands under your shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Have your elbows at 45 degrees and ensure you keep a straight and strong line from your shoulders to your heels. Do not arch your back or sag. Gradually lower your chest towards the floor until you reach a 90-degree arm bend. Pause, then return to the starting position (do not lock your arms). Complete a set to exhaustion (until form begins to slip). Rest for 60 seconds. Repeat three times.
You can make the press-up more difficult by elevating your feet—placing them on a box or exercise ball.
3. Side Plank
By doing the press-up and roll-out exercises you effectively train those muscles used in the traditional front plank; but you also need to consider the importance of the side trunk muscles.
Lying on your side, place one foot on top of the other and support your weight on the forearm and elbow of your lower side—ensure the elbow is directly under the shoulder. Hold a straight line from toes to shoulder and keep the stance until you begin to feel yourself sagging. If you struggle to hold the stance for more than 30 seconds, then switch to the other side for 30 seconds before switching back. A set should be a cumulative two minutes on each side. Completely rest for 60 seconds between sets, then repeat three times.