OFF THE BIKE TUESDAYS - PART 2: STRENGTH
A while back we created a segment on our social media channels which promoted some off the bike exercises which are cycling specific and will compliment and enhance your cycling ten fold when included into a weekly routine. We divided these exercises into three groups: Stretch, Strength and Plyometrics (dynamic power movements).
We have compiled the best exercises in each group to provide you with a short routine you can get into the gym and use once a week for effective workouts which will definitely improve your cycling.
Lets look at - Strength.
Mobility, strength and stability are crucial to not having to compromise on position and to generating maximum power.
Trunk control and strength through the abdominals and obliques is therefore essential to holding a good posture on the bike, which in turn helps with efficiency – if you’re not stable in your core it doesn’t matter how strong your legs are, you’re going to be rocking around and wasting energy.
Strength conditioning programmes are also important. You lose strength quickly when you haven’t ridden for a while – something that tends to happen a lot over the winter – but strength conditioning helps minimise the loss of riding miles.
Having a programme that incorporates these things alongside your normal riding timetable will therefore be beneficial for both performance and injury prevention. For example, look to incorporate two or three strength and conditioning sessions into your week, on the days when you’re not riding.
Our top strength exercises to benefit your cycling.
The curtsy lunge, also called the reverse crossover lunge, will really help you build a strong, firm butt by targeting the inner and outer glute and thigh muscles. The unique action of crossing over your legs is the most challenging part; you’re putting emphasis on all three gluteal muscles—the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and take a large step back with your right leg, crossing it behind your left (as if you’re about to do a curtsy). Your weight should be in your left foot as you slowly bend your knees, lowering your body straight down. Your left (front) leg should be parallel to the floor, your abs tight, and back straight. Push back up to the starting position.
Spider-man push up
Doing pushups can be a good way to work on your upper body strength, but there are many variations that you can do besides the basic exercises that you learned in P.E. classes in school. For example, doing Spiderman pushups can be a good way to get more out of your workouts. The advantages of doing a Spiderman pushup are that it helps your chest and arm muscles work harder. When you move your leg forward, it shifts your weight, which means that your muscles have to adjust to the new position. This helps to work different muscle groups, increasing the resistance and helping you strengthen your muscles more quickly. Since you are only supporting yourself on three points of contact when you move your leg forward, this means that your abdominals and other core muscles have to work harder to maintain stability. Moving your legs forward and back also helps to work your lower abs since it mimics the movement used in many abdominal exercises.
How to: Assume a standard pushup position, your body aligned from ankles to head.
As you lower your body toward the floor, lift your right foot, swing your right leg out sideways, and try to touch your knee to your elbow.
Return to the starting position, and repeat with your left leg.
Mountain Climbers are a killer exercise that get your heart rate up fast while also firing nearly every muscle group in the body—deltoids, biceps, triceps, chest, obliques, abdominals, quads, hamstrings and hip abductors. It’s truly a fully body workout! Mountain Climbers are also a very accessible exercise; you can perform them anywhere because they require only your bodyweight.
How to: Start in a plank position with arms and legs long. Beginning in a solid plank is the key to proper form and good results in the Mountain Climber. At its heart, the Mountain Climber is a form of plank. Keep your abs pulled in and your body straight. Squeeze your glutes and pull your shoulders away from your ears.
Pull your right knee into your chest. As the knee draws to the chest, pull your abs in even tighter to be sure your body doesn’t sag or come out of its plank position.
Quickly switch and pull the left knee in. At the same time you push your right leg back, pull your left knee in to the chest using the same form.
Continue to switch knees. Pull the knees in right, left, right, left—always switching simultaneously so that you are using a “running” motion. As you begin to move more quickly be in constant awareness of your body position and be sure to keep a straight line in your spine and don’t let your head droop. Core body stability is crucial.
Hip Lifts with Barbell
This is one of the best movements you can do to build muscle, boost strength, and improve athletic performance. First of all, the hip thrust uses the gluteus maximus (the upper glute muscle), gluteus medius (the lower glute muscle), the quadriceps, and the hamstrings. As a bonus, hip thrusts also involve the entire core, including the muscles referred to as “stabilizer” muscles that help us keep our balance and keep our spine stable.
How to: Begin seated on the ground with a bench directly behind you. Have a loaded barbell over your legs. Using a fat bar or having a pad on the bar can greatly reduce the discomfort caused by this exercise.
Roll the bar so that it is directly above your hips, and lean back against the bench so that your shoulder blades are near the top of it.
Begin the movement by driving through your feet, extending your hips vertically through the bar. Your weight should be supported by your shoulder blades and your feet. Extend as far as possible, then reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
Improves symmetry & balance. The step up is a unilateral leg exercise, which means that you train each leg independently. The result is that you improve the symmetry of your leg musculature. And as I’m sure you could imagine, doing an exercise on one leg also improves your balance. It also develops explosive leg power. Step ups train explosiveness of the leg muscles. This of course translates to a general increase in lower body strength. But the benefits extend that. You’ll be faster such as when you’re sprinting.
How to: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand facing a foot-tall bench or high step. Step onto the bench with right foot. At the top of the move, contract glutes and extend left leg behind you. Keeping right foot on the bench, bring left leg back down, and lower body until left toe just touches the floor. Lunge down until your knee is perpendicular to the floor and then push off the ground and raise your leg back up behind you. Immediately repeat, completing a full set with one leg. Then switch legs.
This one’s a powerful booty burner that also targets your quads. You can intensify this exercise by keeping your front knee bent and picking up speed in the back-and-forth motion of your back leg. By doing a single movements minimizes training imbalances.
How to: Stand at the back of the rower, facing away from it. Rest your right toes on the seat and stand on your left leg, forward of the rail (a). With most of your weight in your standing leg, push slightly back on the seat with your right leg, so your left front knee stacks over the front ankle and bends about 90 degrees. (You may need to move your foot out farther to achieve this position.) Keep your shoulders over your hips, too (b). Straighten your standing leg, bringing your back right leg slightly forward again (c). Repeat, then switch sides.
The deadlift targets multiple muscle groups in a single lift, offering more bang for your buck than an isolation exercise. They also rely on core strength to stabilize your body throughout the lift, which means you'll be working your abs on top of everything else.
How to: Step up to the barbell and ensure your feet are shoulder width apart, with the balls of your feet just under the bar and your toes pointing slightly out to the side for balance.
'Bend your knees, keep your back straight and grasp the bar, keeping your arms straight and slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
To lift the bar stand up by raising your hips and shoulders at the same time and make sure your abs are always contracted. Lift up the bar vertically and pull your shoulders back as you stand.
'Allow the bar to hang in front of your hips and don’t try to lift it any higher. Keeping your back straight, return the bar to the starting position.
‘If it’s your first time performing a deadlift start with light weights – it’s always better to add weights later on and it’s better to perfect your form before you strain yourself.
The move combines the action of the lunge with stepping upward, like climbing stairs, to really target your butt and upper hamstrings. All you need for the move is a short bench, sturdy chair, or solid coffee table to step onto.
How to: Start by stepping onto the bench with your right foot. Straighten your right knee to stand on the bench while lifting your left leg so the hip and knee are both at 90-degree angles (shown in the photo above). Keeping your right foot still, bend your right knee as you lower your left foot to tap the floor with your left toes without putting your weight onto your left foot. This completes one rep. Press through your right heel as you straighten your right knee to stand on the box. Essentially, your right glute should be engaged for the entire set of reps. That's why it burns! Repeat for 15 reps on each leg. Do three sets.
The plank is a great exercise for strengthening your deep inner core: your transverse abdominis, multifidus, diaphragm, and pelvic floor. And that’s important because those muscles support and control your spine and pelvis—the foundation of basically everything you do.
Most people focus on the core strength benefits of planking, but they are also great for addressing some hard-to-train muscles in your upper back. The rhomboids, serratus anterior and teres major all work together to stabilize your shoulder blades, which in turn helps stabilize your shoulder. Cyclists, in particular, can improve their posture on the bike by developing these muscles because they help maintain a flat surface across your upper back, instead of letting your chest sink forward as your shoulder blades move toward your spine.
How to: Get into a prone position on the floor with your elbows directly under your shoulders, forearms flat on the ground extended straight forward, and palms down.Push your body upward until you achieve a straight line from your shoulders through your heels.Raise your back to create a level surface from shoulder to shoulder across your upper back, as opposed to there being a V between your shoulders.To maintain this position, imagine pulling your belly button toward your spine as you brace your abdominal muscles to keep your spin in a straight line. Activate your gluteal muscles, hamstring, and quadriceps to keep your hips from dropping.Keep your neck in line with your body, rather than craning your neck to look far forward.Breathe normally (don’t hold your breath) and hold this position as long as you can. Initially, aim for 30 seconds, and gradually increase the duration as possible.