Be a better cyclist
Become a better cyclist...
Get cycling with us and become a better cyclist. Need motivation? Tim, our very own PfPLeisure fitness guru gives his top tips on how to make you a better cyclist over all distances.
Specific strength training will enhance your cycling, particularly for the legs, back and arms. The following exercises are key ones to focus on but should always be included as part of a fully balanced programme:
Arm exercises for cycling
Bicep curls and tricep presses will strengthen your arms and keep them balanced. When you ride your bike, your arms are like shock absorbers and most of the resistance will travel through your triceps, biceps and shoulders.
Back exercises for cycling
Dumb-bell rows and lat pull-downs will focus on upper to mid back strength, while back extensions will train the lower back to engage your core and decrease lower back pain due to leaning forwards for long periods of time.
Get flexible on your bike
A common problem that cyclists encounter is poor chest, calf, hamstring and quad flexibility. The rounded shoulder position that you use on the bike can lead to overstretched upper back muscles and a tight chest, so try to spend a few minutes stretching after each ride. Include the chest every time as well as the obvious leg ones.
Leg exercises for cycling
Leg presses, weighted squats, lunges and bodyweight squats, are ideal for building leg strength and power if used explosively.
Ask one of our highly qualified instructors to help you try out these simple yet effective exercises…
Incorporate light to heavier deadlifts
Ask your gym instructor to show you good technique. Light to heavier compound movements such as the deadlift are best for not only strengthening the legs but also improving 'joint integrity' therefore reducing the risk of injury.
Squat for stronger bones
Many cyclists have found that heavy exercises such as the squat can strengthen the bones of the legs as well as the muscles. This is because under a heavy weight the long bones of the legs 'bow' ever so slightly. This results in adaptation where the bones thicken across the entire length to prevent muscle damage occurring in the future.
Interestingly connective tissue is only really called into action when there's an 'unpredictable' force on the joint, such as a stumble or fall. This is where ligament damage is caused if the muscles and tendons aren't able to stabilise the joint. For this reason stronger muscles will prevent any ligament damage.
One way of training this is to perform weighted Box/Plyo jumps (Plyometric boxes found in some of our gyms) to exert a quick force on the muscles with a sharp impact. To do this simply find a suitable plyometric platform, this can be weighted by a corebag, sandbag, ViPR etc….
Lunge to correct imbalances
The repetitive nature and motion of cycling means certain muscular and structural imbalances can be amplified, especially in the legs and lower body. This is why building stronger legs through strength training can 'iron' out these imbalances, prevent injury and also improve the efficiency of your cycling.
One of the best ways to do this is to perform weighted lunges. This is where you carry a light weight like a sandbag/corebag/ViPR etc across your back and take a large step forward with your trailing leg's knee touching the floor. Then push off your back foot and return to a standing position.
Lift to highlight weaknesses
Strength training for your legs is also a great way to highlight any weaknesses you may have. Let's consider the simple deadlift as an exercise and the motion of picking a weight up off the floor. A cyclist with weak hamstrings or a weak core will find it difficult to get the bar off the ground, essentially the first phase of the lift. A cyclist with a weak lower back will experience some difficulty in 'locking out' the final phase of the lift. This is very important to identify since any weakness will be amplified significantly given the repetitive motion of endurance training. Always ask our trainers for advice on any kind of new exercise you would like to try for the first time.
Weighted step ups and core engagement
A strong core is absolutely essential to maintaining the correct posture of a cyclist. A weak core means weak technique and an even worse lack of personal performance. One way to effectively train all the muscles of the core is to perform a large, compound movement that requires a lot of muscle fibre engagement while at the same time requires some balance to stabilise the entire movement. If you are looking to improve your core speak to one of our trainers about the 7 functional movements and the 3 planes of motion!
Get strong legs, not big legs
This final point is more of a summary of the above points and it serves to remind you that strong legs do not mean big, bulky bodybuilder-esque legs that hinder cycling performance.
Good luck, keep yourself motivated, make cycling a habit and enjoy having fun pedalling this Summer!