Time on the turbo and out on the road will build your fitness and power, but if you want to see real improvement in your bike times, you need to look at working on the muscle groups used while cycling – off the bike.
Cycling is about more than just legs. Working on your core, hips, shoulders and upper body strength with cycling in mind will lead to better stability on the bike and greater efficiency through your pedal stroke.
The following exercises have been selected specifically to improve your bike times by working on muscle groups which don’t get the proper attention just from putting in the miles. They can be fitted into a session at the gym, but we’ve made sure they are all movements you can do at home with little, if any, equipment.
The Mountain Climber
Useful for strengthening your abdominals, deltoids and quadriceps. Building up your upper body, shoulders and hips will keep you nice and stable as you power through the saddle.
Start off in a push up position with your hands and feet shoulder width apart. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your wrists to maintain balance, then slowly bring one knee at a time up between your elbows.
Keep your core engaged as you move, and avoid lifting your hips up in the air, making sure they remain in line with your spine.
Once you are comfortable, you can start to speed up the movements and make them more dynamic.
The Renegade Row
Great for exercising your core, biceps and triceps to help you hold a good aerodynamic position on the drops or tri-bars for longer periods during a race.
Begin in the push up position with your shoulders over your wrists and feet a little wider than shoulder width apart. Move your hands together in front of you, then slowly pull one hand up towards your chest while engaging your core and glutes to maintain balance. Make sure your elbow comes nice and high before replacing your hand on the floor, and repeating on the opposite side.
Designed to work out your quads, hamstring, glutes and core to improve the strength of your drive through the middle of the pedal stroke.
You will need a small hand weight, kettlebell or medicine ball. Stand with your feet shoulder with your toes pointed slightly outwards. Engage your core to stabilise your pelvis, and with the weight held close to your chest, slowly bend your knees down to 90 degrees. Keep your head and chin up at all times to keep your back straight, and don’t let your knees come too far forward below your toes.
For strengthening your quads, hamstrings and glutes to improve knee drive through the top half of your pedal stroke.
Step into a lunge with your weight through the heel of your front foot. Keep your shoulders directly over your hips then engage your core. With your arms held up to your chest to maintain balance, slowly drop your back knee down and hold it one or two inches above the ground. After a few seconds, slowly lift yourself back up into the lunge position, and swap legs.
Integrated into your training, these simple movements can help build the core strength needed for good times on the cycling leg of your next Triathlon. For more strength and conditioning exercises, along with video demonstrations of all the exercises outlined above, visit the Yellow Jersey Cycle Insurance website.