Undoubtedly, the best way to get better on the bike is to ride your bike under a structured training program.
But any good training plan involves doing work away from the saddle as well.
John Hughes and Dan Kehlenbach are the authors of Distance Cycling: Your Complete Guide to Endurance Cycling. Recently, they presented a Human Kinetics webinar on training for long-distance cycling events. Kehlenbach, a strength coach, outlined three important things cyclists need to do away from the bike to improve their performance on the bike.
"These can help you ride stronger and help reduce training-related injuries," Kehlenbach said.
Here are his three keys, with examples of how to incorporate them into your training:
While cyclists in training don't need to pump iron six days a week, it's important that you get one to two days a week in.
"Gravitate toward more of a maintenance level program," Kehlenbach said. "Make it more of full-body routine consisting of two sets, 10 to 15 reps per exercises. It should only take around 30 or 40 minutes of your time so it's a great investment."
If time is of the essence—and isn't it always?—Kehlenbach outlines a quick session you can do. It consists of:
- Lower body multi-joint, like lunges
- An upper-body pull, like a pull-down or a row
- An upper-body push, like some sort of press
- One or two core exercises
The benefits of working your core are no secret. But it's important to keep it up even when you're deep in training.
"Your core muscles act as that criticial link between your upper and lower body," Kehlenbach said. "It provides a solid base of support for efficient power transformation to the pedals."
Kehlenbach recommends exercises like planks, crunches and hip ridges. It can be a part of your strength training, or as a stand-alone session.
One other thing: don't go the no-pain, no-gain route with core work.
"Focus on control and form," Kehlenbach said. "Good movement patterns. The minute you start to fatigue, those movement patterns start to break down."
Stretch, stretch, stretch. Do static stretches like sitting down and touching your feet. Do dynamic stretches that have you moving.
The muscles that cyclists typically need to stretch out are hamstrings, the lower back, calves, achilles, quadriceps, glutes, hip flexors, shoulders and neck. And it's especially true if you sit at a desk all day for your job.
"Sometimes your day-to-day activity may be more of a factor to your flexibility than your riding," Kehlenbach said.
Stretching can be added to your daily routine about anywhere. Stretch after rides, while you're watching television, whenever.
Like strength training and core work, it's a way to get better on the bike while you're bike is parked in the garage.
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