This Chest and Abs Workout Builds Strength for Long Days in the Saddle

The long days of summer are upon us: crush your core for all-day strength on the bike with these workouts.


By Danielle Zickl |

While it may not seem super obvious, we need to build muscle in our upper bodies – chest, arms and core – not just our your legs to ride strong, efficiently, and fast.

Noam Tamir, C.S.C.S., CEO and founder of TS Fitness in New York City, created a chest and core workout of two circuits to build chest, shoulder, back, and core stability, all of which are necessary to successfully hold your position on the bike for long periods of time and drive your legs forward on the pedals.

“The exercises will develop the upper body and help cyclists maintain that bent-over position,” Tamir says.

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These exercises also lengthen the muscles of the chest, which opens your chest up to counteract that hunched-over position, and work your back muscles. This is important for your posture since only firing your chest can lead to too much internal rotation of your shoulders, potentially leading to injury.

How to do it: The workout is split into two circuits. Each circuit is comprised of three rounds with a 30-second rest between each set. The amount of reps differ for each exercise—see the descriptions below for the exact amount of reps you should perform per move. While this workout uses dumbbells and resistance bands, you’ll also find ways to modify it below.


Circuit 1:


Alternating Dumbbell Floor Press

Grab two weights and lie face up on floor, knees bent, and feet planted. With palms facing away, press the weights straight up over your chest. Bend left elbow to lower weight to chest, then straighten arm to press it up to return to starting position. Repeat on right side. Continue alternating. Perform 12 total reps.

Make it easier: Shoulder Tap into Push-Up

Start in high plank position, shoulders over wrists. With core and glutes engaged the entire time, lift left hand up and tap right shoulder. Return to starting position. Then bring right hand up and tap left shoulder. Then perform 1 push-up. Perform 12 total reps.


Rotational High Plank With Dumbbell

Start in high plank position, shoulders over wrists, dumbbell in left hand. With core and glutes engaged, lift left arm up toward ceiling, rotating from the waist, creating a straight line from heels to head. Bring left arm back down to ground to return back to starting position. Perform 10 reps, then switch sides for another 10 reps.

Make it easier: Rotational High Plank With Body Weight

Follow the directions above, without using a dumbbell.


Hollow-Body Hold WithDumbbell Fly

Start by lying on the floor with your legs extended and your arms (a dumbbell in each hand, holding them with a neutral grip with palms facing each other) reaching straight up at chest level, weights close to touching. Lift your head, shoulders, and legs off the floor by pushing your lower back into the ground. Brace thighs, glutes, and core. Slowly open the arms, keeping a slight bend in the elbows, as you lower weight out to each side. Once wrists are in line with the chest return to the starting position. Perform 1o total reps.

Make it easier: Wide-Grip Push-Up

Start in a high plank position with hands wider than shoulders, and body in a straight line. Bend elbows out to sides and lower chest to floor (or as far as you can). Keep abs tight and body in one line; don’t let your hips dip. Hold for 1 second, then push back up. Perform 10 total reps.


Circuit 2:


Banded Close-Grip Push-Up

Hold a resistance band with both hands in front you, and bring it overhead and behind you so that it runs across your back, just below your shoulders, with your elbows bent. Start in a high plank position with hands closer than shoulder-width apart, and body in a straight line. Bend elbows out to sides and lower chest to floor (or as far as you can). Keep abs tight and body in one line; don’t let your hips dip. Hold for 1 second, then push back up. Perform 10 total reps.

Make it easier: Close-Grip Push-Up

Follow the directions above, without using a resistance band.


Jackknife With Resistance Band

Lie face up on the floor with legs straight, arms extended straight overhead, holding a resistance band taut. Engage core to lift head, neck, and shoulders off the floor as you draw right hand and left foot toward the ceiling to meet (you may only be able to tap your shin). Lower each arm and each leg, and as you return to starting position, keep core engaged so that hands and feet do not touch the ground. Then immediately draw left hand and right foot toward the ceiling to meet. Perform 15 total reps.

Make it easier: Jackknife

Follow the directions above, without using a resistance band.


Incline Dumbbell Press

Grasp two dumbbells with a pronated grip (palms facing forward) and lie faceup on an incline bench angled between 45 and 60 degrees with your feet placed firmly on the floor. Press the dumbbells in unison to a level over your eyes or slightly higher, with your elbows fully extended. Then bend elbows to lower dumbbells to chest, then extend them to eye level again. Perform 10 total reps.

Make it easier: Decline Push-Up With Feet Elevated

Start in a high plank position with feet on the edge of a chair or bench, shoulders over wrists, core, glutes, and legs engaged. bend elbows to lower chest to the floor. Your elbows should point back at a 45-degree angle. Keeping core engaged and hips in line with the rest of your body, push back up to return to starting position. Perform 10 total reps.

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