A few minutes of weekly strength work now will pay off next season
With the race season at an end, it’s time to evaluate your season and assess your strengths and weaknesses. For many cyclists, core strength and muscular balance are weaknesses. Doing some simple exercises during the winter can go a long way to shore up any inadequacies and equalize imbalances.
Cycling is a linear activity. During the winter, take the opportunity to wake up your stabilizer muscles, which will help your performance on the bike. Beneficial exercises include a walking lunge with weight held overhead, plyometrics and lateral lunges. These moves also reflect the alternating motion of pedaling and focus on the quadriceps, gluteals and even calf muscles.
Abdominals can be worked on by practicing core activation and strengthening the transversus in addition to rectus abdominus and the internal and external oblique’s. One of the best ways to strengthen the core (and the “core” means more than just the abs) is to focus on exercises that recruit not only the “dumb” muscles like the rectus abdominus but the transversus as well. Moves like a fit ball “roll up” or hanging leg raises will engage these target muscle groups.
Hyper-mobility of the extensors and gluteals is another phenomenon seen in cyclists. Flexibility and hyper-mobility are two different things but often are mistaken for each other. The extensors and gluteals are in a lengthened position for an enormous amount of time in the cyclist with the hands and arms holding the body upright and over time these muscles can lose strength. Since the gluteals are the primary hip-extensors, you must occasionally re-educate them on how they make a living. Being in the flexed position for a large majority of hours, the cyclist’s abdominals do very little work, and it’s not unusual for a cyclist to have accompanying back issues as a result. Moves to correct low back issues can be things like hyper extensions (pictured) or “super-mans.”
Body weight moves such as pull-ups and dips will, in a general fashion, tune up upper body musculature without focusing on any one group. While upper body mass can be a liability for the cyclist, the extra musculature will help with posture,”balance” or proportion of the athlete and it will also be an extra place to hide away more glycogen.
These issues are easily trainable in the gym. A well thought out and periodized weight program that addresses the musculature of the legs and core will create an athlete that is less prone to injury, has more usable power and a more stable and strong core.
Ainslie MacEachran is the owner and head coach of www.geminitrainingsystems.com and the author of “The Cyclists Guide To Off-Season Strength Training and Nutrition.”
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