5 Bodyweight Exercises All Cyclists Should Be Doing
As cyclists, we’re often guilty of putting resistance training on the back burner in favour of maximum saddle time. The good news: You don’t need to go to a gym, buy new equipment, or even leave your living room to get the job done.
These five bodyweight exercises, demonstrated by Charlee Atkins, master instructor at SoulCycle in New York City and founder of Le Sweat, target all the muscles that support you in the saddle, but that cycling itself doesn’t strengthen. By strengthening them, you’ll ward off overuse injuries and set yourself up for a successful spring.
How to use this list: Perform the exercises below circuit-style, going from one move to the next with minimum rest between moves. Do 10 to 20 reps of each move (depending on your starting strength level). Perform the entire circuit 3 times. Aim to perform the workout 2 to 3 days per week.
This move strengthens your glutes, lower back, and erector spinae muscles, the muscles that run along your spine and spend most of their time stretched out and flexed forward when you ride.
Lie facedown on a mat, arms fully extended in front of you, palms down. Squeeze your glutes and simultaneously lift arms, legs, and chest off the floor. Hold for 2 seconds. Lower back to the starting position and repeat.
Make it easier: Start by lifting just one arm and leg at a time, alternating sides throughout the set.
This move builds strength in your shoulders, chest, and triceps, which support you on the handlebars. It also improves your core strength and stability – both of which help you put more power in your pedals.
Start in a high plank position, shoulders over wrists, core, glutes, and legs engaged. Bend the elbows to lower chest to the floor. Elbows should point back at a 45-degree angle. Push back up to starting position, making sure to keep hips in line with the rest of the body. If you can’t push up without dipping hips or get chest to floor, drop to knees to build strength.
Make it harder: After you perform the pushup, walk left hand and left foot over to the right so your hands and feet are next to each other. Then step right hand and foot back out so you’re in a wide plank position. Perform another pushup and walk your right hand and foot back to the left. Repeat, alternating sides throughout the set.
3. Shoulder Bridge
This move strengthens your glutes, which are often neglected during rides, and can help keep you stable in the saddle and eliminate back pain. It also strengthens your core and hips.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Keeping thighs parallel to each other, contract glutes and lift hips up toward the ceiling so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Rest arms at your sides, palms down, or intensify the move by clasping your hands beneath you. Hold for a 3 seconds. Lower back to starting position and repeat.
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4. Jump Squat
This move strengthens the prime movers in your pedal stroke, your quads, while also adding some impact to help build bone strength, which cycling alone doesn’t do.
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Clasp hands in front of chest for balance. Send hips back and bend knees to squat down until butt drops below knee level. As you rise back up, explode off the floor and jump. Land softly, immediately dropping into another squat. Repeat.
5. Curtsy Lunge
This move fires up your outer glutes, which are notoriously weak in cyclists. Strong outer glutes can improve your pedaling mechanics and prevent knee pain.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands clasped at chest in front of you. Take a big step diagonally forward with right foot, crossing right leg in front of the left. Keeping your back straight, bend knees and lower hips toward floor until right leg is bent to about 90 degrees. Push back up to starting position. Repeat then switch legs.
All GIFs by: Julia Hembree Smith