Flexibility is important for cyclists . It improves posture, increases the range of motion in the joints and is vital for avoiding injuries. This workout includes three stretches that focus on areas that tighten during cycling.

As conditioning coach Mark Simpson sees it, stretching is “body maintenance: if areas of the body are tight, rigid and inflexible, this can result in lost training time. There’s a performance aspect as well: it’s like the difference between a door that has oiled hinges and one that grinds to and fro. The more freely you move, the more power you can put out.”

Breathe gently while stretching and try to relax, even though there will be muscle tension. Only stretch the muscle/muscles to the point of mild tension, not pain, otherwise you risk harmful over-stretching. Note: Warm muscles stretch more easily – 5 to 10 minutes of light aerobic activity is advisable before you stretch.

Flexibility: Russian twist

Muscles worked: This exercises the oblique muscles and abdominals

Do this with a medicine ball or other weight between 3–10kg. Sit on the ground with your feet on the floor. Rotate the hips to either side, alternating left and right with a fluid, controlled movement without stopping in the middle.

Caution: Anyone with a back problem shouldn’t do this exercise as it involves rotating the spine. If in doubt, ask your doctor.

Recommended routine: 10 reps per side. As you progress, try the same routine with your feet lifted off the floor.

Flexibility: Hamstring stretch

Muscles worked: Hamstrings (back of thigh)

This is a key stretch, because in cyclists the hamstrings have a tendency to tighten due to the pedalling action and the riding position a cyclist adopts. Rest one bent knee on a mat, with the other leg extended straight and locked in front of you – the idea is that you lean forward and so stretch the back of the leg, but most people can get a stretch in the basic position.

Recommended routine: Hold for 20–40 seconds, then repeat on the other side. Try three sets on each side.

Flexibility: Hip flexor stretch

Muscles worked: Adductors (the muscles at the hip joint which are tightened by cycling and can cause back problems).

Adopt position as shown, back knee cushioned with a mat. Try to keep a tall natural posture without slouching. Push the right hip forward to stretch the flexor muscle.

Recommended routine: Hold for 20–40 seconds, then repeat on left side. Try three sets per side.

Flexibility: Indian knot stretch

Muscles worked: This is a stretch for the gluteals, and the whole lower body (the lower back, gluteals and adductors).

Achieve the position as shown, maintaining a tall, flat back. Keeping these areas flexible should reduce the chance of developing back problems.

Recommended routine: Hold for 20–40 seconds and repeat three times. Rest for 15–30 seconds between reps.

Core stability

“The core, or trunk area, is key for posture, because on a bike so much time is spent bent over and, over time, injuries related to posture can appear in cyclists,” says Mark.

“Working on the core also makes riding more efficient, because you reduce instability on the bike and, more significantly, it can assist in the transfer of power through the kinetic chain that runs from the hands, holding the bars, to the pedals.

Core work can also help in getting into an aerodynamic position and holding it: you reduce the back’s tendency to over-arch, which in turn can help make a cyclist more aerodynamic and more powerful.”

Core stability: Swiss ball plank

Muscles worked: Good all-round trunk conditioning exercise.

Lean on the ball as shown, keep the back flat or maintain its natural curve, with the legs straight. Try to breathe naturally while bracing the stomach muscles to keep the position on the ball. To make it harder, bring the knees alternately to the ball as if pedalling. Movement should be continuous and controlled.

Recommended routine: Hold for 30 seconds to one minute. Rest for half the time you work, and repeat three times.

Core stability: Swiss ball bridge

Muscles worked: Abdominals, core and shoulders.

Start as shown with the arms extended, back flat, legs fully extended and the balls of the feet on the Swiss ball. Balance comfortably on the ball, then use the ball to bring the knees forward to the chest. This should be done in the same controlled manner as in the above exercise.

Caution: Make sure there is a mat below the knees and do not do perform this exercise on a hard surface.

Recommended routine: Three sets of 10-20 reps. Rest for 30 seconds in between.

Core stability: Swiss ball superman

Muscles worked: Entire rear kinetic chain: back, hamstrings, gluteals and rear shoulders.

Start with the ball under the stomach/chest area and the whole body extended, then alternate raising the arm and leg on opposite sides (eg right arm and left leg) while maintaining balance . Until you’re confident with balance, you can keep the inactive hand on the ground.

Caution: Make sure the area around the ball is clear of hazards in case you roll off sideways.

Recommended routine: Three sets of 20-30 reps. Rest for 30 seconds in between.

Leg strength

These strength exercises aim to improve the ability of the quads, hamstrings and gluteals to put more power through the pedals.

Leg strength: Single-leg box squat

Muscles worked: Gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps.

Stand with one foot flat on the floor, the other extended in front of you. Maintain a tall posture and gradually move downwards, bending the knee so there is brief contact with the box, then come back up again. The downward movement is controlled, the upwards movement is quick.

Recommended routine: 10 reps on each leg, repeated three times.

Leg strength: Dumbbell lunge

Muscles worked: Gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings.

For some people, merely doing this without the dumbbell will be sufficient, but it can be done with a weight of between 1-20kg depending on your strength (it’s a good idea to get advice on this from a qualified gym instructor).

Start standing straight, step forwards and down into the lunge position as shown. Movement should be controlled. Keep a flat back and do not allow the front knee to go beyond the end of the toes. Don’t allow the back knee to touch the ground and keep your hip, knee and ankle aligned, facing forwards.

Caution: Do not try if you have any kind of knee problem. If in doubt get clearance from your doctor. Again, wear appropriate footwear (not socks) to prevent slipping on the floor.

Recommended routine: Three sets of 10 reps on each leg.

About our model

Jamie Staff has been cycling since he was nine years old. He is a triple world champion on the track and was BMX world champion in 1996. He won a gold medal in the team sprint at the Beijing Olympics.

Source: Read Full Article