7 In-Season Resistance Exercises for Cyclists
Whether you're racing, participating in centuries, or just enjoying time on the bike, you should have a year-round maintenance strategy that won't interfere with your riding. Strength training will not only help your cycling, it'll go a long way towards improving your overall health and fitness. Try this sample workout to get started.
General Workout Guidelines
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1. Do your workouts on non-consecutive days.
2. Perform 1 to 2 sets of each exercise.
3. For repetitions:
* Core exercises: Complete 8 to 12 repetitions. For timed exercises such as planks, hold for 30 seconds.
* Power exercises: Complete 6 to 8 repetitions.
* Strength exercises: Complete 8 to 12 repetitions.
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Purpose: Your training volume and intensity will likely increase as you go through the cycling season. Mobility drills can be helpful in keeping your joints healthy so you can use their full range of motion.
Exercise: Ankle Mobility
Mobility Drills Continued
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How: Lack of mobility in the ankle can lead to knee pain. Position yourself in front of a wall with one foot forward as shown. Rock back and forth, bringing your knee to the wall. Pay close attention not to lift the heel that you're mobilizing. If you find that your heel is coming up, move your foot closer to the wall.
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Purpose: Your core is the critical link between your upper and lower extremities. It also provides a base of support for pedaling. Choose planks, anti-extension and anti-rotation exercises instead of crunches.
Exercise: Lateral Plank
How: Place a foam pad or towel under your elbow. Lie on your side and raise your waist up off the floor so that your body forms a straight line from the shoulder to the ankle. Use a mirror if you have difficulty judging your form. A pad, workout mat or folded towel can make this exercise much more comfortable on your elbow.
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Purpose: Sprinting, hill climbing, trail riding and breakaways demand power. For cycling-specific power, try single-leg exercises such as split squat jumps, split-cycle jumps or bench push-offs.
Exercise: Split Squat
Power Exercise Continued
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How: Position yourself with one-foot forward and one backward. Drop down into a split squat position, and then explode upwards as high as you can. Land softly, stabilize, and repeat. Recover before repeating with the other leg.
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Purpose: Pull-ups, pulldowns and rows are great exercises to work the muscles of the upper back and shoulders, which can become fatigued during long rides.
Exercise: Kneeling Pull Downs
Pull Exercise Continued
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How: Kneel in front of a cable column as shown. Grasp a traditional pulldown handle with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width. Keep your torso upright and pull the bar down to your collarbone. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Tip: Kneeling on the floor forces your core and postural muscles to engage throughout the movement as opposed to a traditional lat pulldown machine, which has locked in a fixed position with little core and postural involvement.
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Purpose: Single-leg exercises are specific to the mechanics of cycling. When you complete an exercise such as a lunge, the muscles of your hips, trunk and thigh have to decelerate and stop the motion of your body before pushing back to the starting position. This motion is referred to as an eccentric action, which lengthens your muscles as they are under tension. Cycling has virtually no eccentric action, so this type of exercise can drastically improve your overall lower-body strength.
Lower Body Continued
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How: Hold a pair of light dumbbells as shown. Take a long step forward into a lunge. Keep your knee behind your toes and avoid letting your knee collapse to the inside. Push back to the starting position and repeat with the other leg.
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Purpose: Dumbbell bench presses, push-ups and dips will help maintain the strength of your chest, shoulders and triceps. Don't be afraid to get a little creative. You can use a stability ball in place of a bench to work stabilizing muscles of the upper body at the same time.
Exercise: Alternating dumbbell chest press
Push Exercise Continued
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How: The alternating dumbbell press is going to challenge your shoulder stability more than the conventional press. Start by holding a pair of dumbbells above your chest as shown. Lower one dumbbell at a time, keeping the other dumbbell up. Return to the starting position and repeat with the other side.
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Purpose: Foam rolling on a regular basis can help promote recovery as you increase your volume and intensity of training. Most riders can benefit from rolling calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, outer hips and upper back.
Exercise: Foam Roll Hamstring
Foam Roll Continued
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How: Place the foam roll under the upper leg below the glutes. Start at the gluteal fold and roll toward the hamstring insertion behind the knee. Support your bodyweight on your forearms and keep both feet off the ground. Roll yourself forward, stopping just above the knee. Roll back to the starting position.