Five exercises to eliminate shoulder slouch

Credit: Tim DeFrisco/Allsport
Do you have cyclists' slouch that stoop-shouldered, round-backed posture that makes super-fit riders look like osteoporosis victims when they get off the bike?

Cyclists are at risk of developing a slope-shouldered posture permanently and this risk increases if you spend your working hours at a keyboard. Hunching over either a computer or handlebar produces the same results.

Fortunately, there's a quick fix for the bends.

Do these five exercises recommended by Harvey Newton, Program Director for the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and godfather of strength training for cyclists. Your posture will improve, you'll be more durable on long rides and, as a bonus, you'll last longer at the computer.

Strengthen middle America
You've heard it before Americans have let their midsections go to pot. Cycling demands abdominal strength but doesn't build it.

Fight watermelon gut with crunches. Lie on your back and bend 90 degrees at the hips, holding your legs overhead.

With hands folded across your chest, raise your shoulders toward your knees, hold briefly, and return to the starting position.

Begin with three sets of 10. When you can do at least 25 reps comfortably, hold a barbell plate or heavy book on your chest to add resistance.

Fight back woes
Back extensions on specialized equipment work best but you can substitute "floor crawls."

While lying on your stomach, raise your right hand and left foot together, hold for three seconds, and relax. Repeat with the left hand and right foot.

When you can do three sets of 15, add resistance by wearing boots and holding a light dumbbell or a can of soup in each hand.

Rx for round shoulders
Develop that military bearing with bent-over lateral raises.

Sit on a sturdy chair with your chest on your knees, your hands on the floor grasping a light dumbbell or book in each hand. Keeping your arms slightly bent, lift them out to your sides until your arms are parallel to the floor.

Hold for one second and lower slowly. Aim for three sets of 15, then add more weight.

Keep that head up!
Upper-shoulder and neck fatigue destroy posture and make riding miserable. The solution: upright rows.

Stand straight, grasp a light barbell in the center with your palms facing you, hands two to three inches apart, and arms hanging down. Raise the barbell to chin height. Lower slowly.

Do three sets of 12-15 reps.

Don't neglect the other muscles
Balance your workout by exercising the pushing muscles as well. Straight-arm pullovers expand the chest and help you focus on breathing.

Use a light weight either a barbell, dumbbell, or book. Lie on your back, holding the weight at arm's length over your face. Keeping elbows straight, lower the weight behind your head until your arms are horizontal, inhaling as you go. Hold a second, then exhale as you return to the starting position.

Do three sets of 12-15 reps.

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