Nowadays the majority of cyclists will also engage in some form of strength training exercise to supplement their on-bike training. Whether this is weight training in the gym or bodyweight training exercises known as Calisthenics at home, there are plenty of options on hand to build overall strength and fitness and become a more rounded athlete.
Here are some simple exercises for cyclists of all levels to maintain an active physical routine when you cannot get out on your bike.
As always, consult a physician for advice before adopting a new exercise regime. And remember to begin with an appropriate stretching and warm-up routine beforehand. With that in mind, let’s jump in!
As an all upper body compound exercise, there is not much to beat standard pull ups. This exercise engages the upper arms and forearms, the shoulders, the back muscles as well as the chest and neck muscles. It’s a good exercise for anyone looking to develop general upper body strength and co-ordination and requires nothing more than something suitably strong and stable from which to hang by the hands.
As the name of the exercise suggests, the aim is to pull up the entire body and touch the chest to whatever it is that is being gripped, then lower the body and repeat. Pull Ups can be challenging to begin with but once strength improves they will become increasingly effective and can be altered slightly with all manner of variations on grip width and angle. Developing high grip and back strength can also be the route into many excellent exercises that target the abdominals, such as hanging leg raises.
Again, as a compound exercise, press ups work all the major muscle groups of the upper body, along with the abdominals and to an extent the glutes. Like pull ups, press ups are a good exercise for anyone looking to build general upper body strength, with an emphasis on the chest, upper arms and shoulders. There is no specific apparatus required for press ups, although press up stands can be used to alter hand and grip position whilst taking direct stress off the wrist joints.
The aim of press ups is to press the entire body from the floor starting with lying on your stomach and putting the palms of your hands alongside your shoulders, elbows bent up to the ceiling. Once the body has been pressed up, you can slowly lower the body back to the floor until the chest touches, and repeat. The trick is to keep the back straight and the torso tight throughout the entire range of motion. This is an excellent overall exercise and a strong upper body can help when climbing out the saddle on the road or tackling fast and technical descents whilst off-road.
The standing squat is one of those exercises that increases balance, strength, flexibility and co-ordination. It’s especially great for cyclists as it targets all of those major muscle groups that are typically used on the bike. Standing squats engage the hips, quads, hamstrings and glutes and is very simply performed.
Start this exercise with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly bend your knees and push your glutes towards the floor as if to sit on a chair. Make sure to keep your torso straight and also do not strain your back. Slowly rise, return to starting position and repeat. Pause for a second at the low point when your quads are parallel with the ground, and feel the burn!
Standing calf raises
Standing calf raises are an excellent way to train your calves for strength and stamina and to further develop that mind-muscle connection that comes with targeted use. To perform the exercise, stand in a shoulder-width stance with your toes flat on the edge of a step and with your heels and mid-foot hanging off the edge. In this position you should feel a pronounced stretch in your calf and throughout the exercise you should utilise a wall or a rail as a support.
To begin, raise yourself up on the balls of your feet, pause, then lower yourself back to the starting position being sure to feel, and control, the stretch in your calves. Always drop your heel at the low point and flex your calves for a second or two at the high point. This exercise – as well as standing squats – will keep the muscles of the legs well-targeted and should over time build strength and power.
If you are unable to get out on the bike, by engaging in these simple exercises you stand a good chance of retaining muscle strength and muscle tone in preparation for your return to wheels.
Your InfoCrank will then be able to assist you to train in the most effective and efficient way possible to regain any conditioning temporarily lost due to the riding hiatus.
There’s no doubt that the best training as a cyclist is time on the bike, but if that’s not always possible, remain ready, retain as much power as possible, and always use your InfoCrank to point the way back to fitness gains.