Week 4

Strength for cycling

Unlocking your power

We’ve seen some pretty wet and windy weather of late – I hope it is delivering really good snow as it’s not really ideal for getting long rides in on the open road.

However, if you’ve followed me from week one with your goal setting through to now, your training should still be on track. 

There is certainly one important task you can start to integrate into your weekly regime and that is a 10–30 minute daily habit of strength, core and mobility work to compliment your cycling goals.

Why should you include this ‘strength and conditioning’ element into your training?

From beginner through to elite level cyclists, strength means that you can ride for longer with more enjoyment and less strain on pressure points or key areas like shoulders, lower back, triceps and neck.

It pays huge dividends to invest even 3 x 10 min sessions devoted to this practice a week. I promise you that in less than one hour a week you can make a difference. Start today.

The simple explanation

Contact points at the front of the bike

When you sit on a bike in a semi forward position, like on a road bike with your weight distributed via your contact points, you will put force and weight through these areas. Therefore, each contact on the bike has a weak point and the longer your ride, the more fatigued these areas will potentially become.

As you hold onto the handlebars, your grip should be relaxed but secure. This means that your group of ‘core’ muscles must be strong and able to take the load in a static hold. Your smaller muscle groups in your arms are also working the whole time. If they weren’t, your upper body would collapse under the pressure.

At the same time, your lats, delts and traps are bearing a load, acting as an anchor point to the job being done on the front of the bike, linking what’s going on with the lower part of the body on the rear part of the bike. This shoulder upper body area does a lot. 

Contact points at the rear of the bike

Strengthening and improving mobility across your glutes, quads, calves and hamstrings all important for balance, stability, stamina and power while cycling. 

If your pelvic stability is not ideal (saddle too high, wrong saddle, too wide, too narrow etc…) there will be a loss of power going to the pedal stroke, impacting push pull scrape motion of a fluid pedal stroke.

This entire region has many weak points that will compromise your cycling joy and ability to apply power. The entire “core” and lower back region is very interconnected with your hips and legs.

Again a strong core allows you to pedal efficiently with less fatigue creating greater power through the pedal stokes. With a weak core, your legs lose a significant amount of ability to generate power.  The longer you are out riding, the more this is magnified.

Making time to make a difference

Let’s not get too carried away here though. I am having a go at promising you some changes for less than an hour a week. You can do your own research and I recommend you do.There are also physios and PTs that specialise in cycling so all power to you – literally!

As you can already tell, I am not going to get all ‘anatomy chart’ on you. All you need to understand is this – there is a whole lot more to pedaling a bike than powerful legs.

We are going to work through 10 exercises that will make a difference. I will make your life easy and split them into two separate workouts. Plus, one mobility workout that is five minutes long which you can do every single day.

The minimum time per core workout will be 10 minutes. You can increase time by doing two sets, and as you get better do three sets. You can increase intensity by eliminating rest in between. Finally as you improve you can add variations which I will show you too.

Whilst doing your core work, use some visualisation techniques to engage the feeling you have on the bike when that part of your body is under load. It really helps.

ENJOY! Please keep doing your own research and certainly seek outside assistance from a physio or personal trainer if you need further guidance.

Core workout sheet 1
Core workout sheet 2

Exercise videos

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