Cycling is a fantastic way to develop cardiovascular ﬁtness and leg strength. But because of the ﬁxed position, largely linear motion, low upper body involvement and lack of impact, it can leave you deﬁcient in other vital areas of ﬁtness.
Off-the-bike conditioning can provide you with a ‘robustness’ insurance policy that’ll help keep you injury-free and on your bike.
Here are five basic workouts you can do at home.
Skipping is a great way to warm up, get some impact training and high intensity cardiovascular work, and develop muscular endurance in the calves and shoulders. Aim to keep your head up and stay light and springy on your toes.
Don’t ‘jump’ high over the rope, just elevate yourself enough to clear it and stay relaxed. It’ll take a bit of time to master the technique but stick with it because it’s a brilliant do-anywhere exercise.
Workout: 3 x 60 seconds with 30 seconds' recovery
2 Press-up with twist to side plank
This exercise takes the humble press-up to a new level, bringing in your trunk rotator and stabiliser muscles. Perform a regular press-up, concentrating on good depth (arms to at least 90 degrees) and a strong/straight body. After you come up, roll onto one hand, stack your feet and extend your other hand towards the ceiling.
Hold the side plank position for a count of two and then roll back down for the next press-up. The rolling motion combined with the press-up is excellent conditioning for those long, out-of-the-saddle climbs.
Workout: 2 x 10 reps each side with 30 seconds' recovery
3 Wrestler squat
So you're a cyclist and think you’ve got strong legs? We’ll see. Start in a kneeling position and then, one leg at a time, ‘step up’ into a squat position. Keep stepping up and down, never straightening the legs. This is an excellent movement for developing leg strength and endurance as well as being tough on your core.
Workout: 60 seconds continuous (change lead leg halfway through)
4 Military get-up
You may be familiar with the plank but this variant is much tougher. Start in a normal plank position with no arching of the back or sagging of the hips. Then simply come up into an end-of-press-up position. As well as strengthening your deep core muscles, it’s another hit for your shoulders and arms and relevant to out-of-the-saddle efforts.
Workout: 60 seconds continuous (change lead arm halfway through)
5 PSOAS/hamstring counter-stretch
Although this is a stretch, don’t think it as a soft ending to the routine - it’s a demanding position that’ll also work on your core stability and balance. Begin by kneeling on one knee and then straighten the other leg out in front of you. Ease into the stretch by sliding the heel of the straight leg further away from you.
Resist the temptation to open out your hips and actively twist towards the extended leg to prevent this. This really targets the hamstrings and the hip ﬂexors that are normally hideously tight in cyclists and often responsible for injuries and back pain.
Workout: 60 seconds each side