7 Strengthening Exercises to Prevent Muscle Cramps

3. Calf raises (Gastrocnemius and Soleus): Calf raises target both of the muscles that make up the calf. Stand with the balls of your feet on a step or block with your heels hanging down. Rise up on balls of your feet until your toes are pointed down just as they would be at the bottom of your pedal stroke. Return to the starting position. When you can do 3 sets of 20 reps, try single leg calf raises, switching legs after 15 reps.

4. Bridges (Gluteals and Lower Back): Lie on your back with your feet resting on an exercise ball. Stretch your arms out to the side with your hands resting on the floor for balance. Tighten your abs, back and butt muscles to raise your hips up off the floor. Your body should form a straight line. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and lower. Once you can complete 3 sets of 20 reps, switch to single-leg bridging.

5. Hamstring curls (Hamstrings): Lie on your back with your feet resting on the exercise ball. Tighten your abs, back and butt muscles to raise your hips off the floor. Your body should form a straight line just as it does with regular bridges. Press your heels into the ball and roll the ball towards your butt, keeping your back and hips elevated off the ground. Roll the ball away from you and return to the bridge position.

More: A Strength-Training Plan for Time-Crunched Cyclists

6. Cross over with resistance band (Adductor): Hook one end of a resistance band around your left ankle. Tie the other end under a door or around a table leg. Stand with your feet 18 inches apart with your left leg closest to door or table. Put your weight on your right leg with the knee slightly bent and, if necessary, hold onto something to balance. Pull your left foot towards the midline of your body until your left foot crosses in front of your right. Do a full set with the left leg before you switch.

7. Hip exercise with resistance band (Abductor): Hook one end of a resistance band around your left ankle. Tie the other end under a door or around a table leg. Stand with your feet together. Place your right foot closest to the door or table so that the tubing crosses in front of your right ankle. Stand on your right leg and, if necessary, hold onto something for balance. Pull your left foot away from your body and return to the starting position slowly. Do a full set with the left leg before you switch.

With a steady routine, completing these exercises a few times per week will make you stronger and prevent muscular imbalances that lead to cramping.

More: 7 Simple Stretches for Cyclists

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