Improve your cycling with circuit training

Intense exercises that will reap benefits on the bike

Body conditioning can improve your riding because it develops strength, endurance and flexibility.

Here are four quick exercises, tried and tested by the Cycling Plus magazine editorial team, that will produce results you'll really notice.

Lower body: single-leg squats and jumps

Lower body workouts aren't as important to your circuit training as those for other areas of your body, as you get plenty of lower body exercise when you're pedalling. If you want to improve your leg strength, try these two exercises.

Stand with one leg either side of a low bench and step up onto it and then off of it with alternate legs. Repeat this 20 times for three sets, with a minute’s break in between.

Then change the pace by rapidly jumping up onto the bench with both feet then jumping off again, with your feet landing one each side of the bench. Again, repeat 20 times for three sets.

You’ll soon notice a marked improvement in your leg strength.

Upper body: seated dips

Although your arms are not used as extensively as your lower body in cycling, good arm strength can be useful to pump the handlebar when climbing. Include seated dips in your training plan to help build up your arm strength, in particular the triceps.

Sit with your back to a bench and your hands flat on the edge of it behind you. Stretch your legs out in front of you. Hold your body up on your arms and then dip towards the floor, slowly, before pushing back up.

Repeat this 20 times, break for a minute and repeat.

Total body: burpees

Despite the comical name, the burpee is a great circuit training exercise because it works many muscle groups. By improving the strength and flexibility of your whole body you should feel stronger, less achy, more comfortable and be able to push yourself harder when cycling.

To do the burpee, begin in a squat position with your hands on the floor in front of you.

Kick your feet back to a push-up position, then bring them back to the squat position before leaping into the air and then coming back to the squat.

Do repetitions of 15, resting for a minute in-between.

Core and trunk: modified sit-ups

A strong core and trunk will not only help you to hold a strong position when cycling, but can help prevent injury from back strain.

For this exercise, sit on the end of a bench with your legs bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor, and your arms extended straight in front of you. Lean backwards, slowly, until your trunk is at about 45 degrees.

Perform sit-ups by steadily moving back up to an upright position while raising your arms straight above your head, and then returning to the 45 degree angle with your arms in front.

Try to do 50 of these before taking a rest.

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