TOOLBOX: We may love the sport of cycling, but it does not love our bodies back in ways that promote long-term health and well-being – at least not off the bike. Here are 3 exercises to help you retain balance which can also help you regain power on the bike.
That riding position – Good for aero, but for your body?
As the miles and hours have ticked up over the riding season we tend to see our bodies adapt to the riding position. While this can be a good adaptation for short periods of time, without work to balance these changes out, they can lead to more permanent and lasting changes which can lead us to poor posture, poorer breathing patterns, and pain.
Half kneeling Breath with Reach
Breathing exercises, when done correctly, offer huge returns as they can improve range of motion, loosen tight muscles, and help us to use more of our lungs with each breath by affording us more room which to expand our lungs.
The half kneeling breath with reach is a bit more challenging than most breathing exercise, but it offers big rewards when done correctly:
- Tuned-down Psoas
- Tuned up Serratus Anterior
- Tuned up Glute
- Improved Lateral and posterior rib expansion
When performing these it’s important to keep your head, ribs, hips, and down knee stacked in a straight line while you reach from the shoulder blades forward. Think about keeping your “Belt Buckle up” throughout, by having a little bit of 6-pack activation.
Perform 3 sets of 8 breaths a side, finishing all repetitions on one side, before switching sides.
Half kneeling 1 arm Band Row with Opposite Hand Reach
After opening up the hips and sides with the half kneeling breath with reach, we want to fire up the muscles which are not required to go through their full range of motion on the bike in the same position. The half kneeling 1 arm band row with opposite hand reach allows us to do just that, with a rotary stability (keeping your ribs and hips locked together) challenge.
This exercise, like most half kneeling exercises, has a “goldilocks weight”, where the band or weight is just heavy enough that you can hold the position and perform the movement correctly. For most of us, the half inch or 1 inch band will prove to be just about right, and we can adjust the difficulty by moving closer to (easier) or further from (harder) the anchor point.
If you have access to a cable stack machine that allows you to adjust the height of the cable, you can use that as well.
Perform 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions. finishing all repetitions on one side, then standing up, re-setting the position on the opposite side before performing that sides set. Standing up between sides and sets is not an option, that is if you’re looking for big performance gains. Even better is standing up and walking around for 30-60 seconds between sets, as this will allow your facia and systems to move and flow after having been “reset” a bit via the exercise.
Spiderman with Hip Lift
A fan-hated which very quickly turns to fan-favorite of the riders here at HVTraining, the Spiderman with hip lift will allow you to get a full-body dynamic stretch for everything you’ve now done: hip flexors, upper back, shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and more!
Why are these hated at first? Because they expose all the weaknesses and tightness that we develop as cyclists, and there is nowhere to hide!
But with consistency (performing this exercise 2-3 days a week), attention to detail, and listening to what the body is telling you it can do on each particular day, these quickly turn into “my new favorite exercise, because it hits the spots I need!”.
If you find the variation on the floor too much for you for right now, you can put a chair up against a wall or put your front foot up on a bench, to decrease the intensity of the exercise.
Here is a demo video for the modified version
We may love the sport of cycling, but it does not love our bodies back in ways that promote long-term health and well-being – at least not off the bike. Making the mental and physical effort to consistently maintain some kind of strength training program throughout the entire year can not only help you look and feel better off the bike, but also allow you to produce power more efficiently and economically on the bike.
Think of it as a way that allows you to turn back the clock 10-20 years, to keep you riding healthy, strong, and pain free now and for many years to come.