What kind of strength and conditioning exercises do you need for cycling? Cycling is basically about repeated force production, one leg at a time. But actually, it’s not just legs, you also need a strong core for handling your bike, climbing and overall endurance. Therefore, if you are looking for best strength exercises for cyclists, it’s great. Let’s make strength training be a part of your weekly training regimen. These 10 must-do exercises will get you started and help you a lot.
Starting by sitting on the edge of a sturdy chair or bench. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on either side of your hips. Slide your hips off the chair, legs bent or extended out in front of you (the straighter your legs, the harder it is). Straighten your arms while maintaining a micro-bend in elbows—don’t lock them out. Bend your elbows and lower hips toward the floor until your arms are bent 90 degrees. Press through palms to straighten your arms, return to start, and repeat.
Your triceps help prop you up on your handlebars. They can get pretty sore on long rides unless you take steps to keep them strong. However, keep doing it because this is one of best strength exercises for cyclists.
Push-Up to Renegade Row
Start in a high plank position with wrists under shoulders, hands on two dumbbells. Position your feet shoulder-width apart (the further apart they are, the easier the move). Bend elbows to perform a push-up. Then, keeping your back straight and hips level, pull the right dumbbell up to right ribs. Return dumbbell back to floor. Pull left dumbbell up to left ribs. Return dumbbell back to floor. That’s one rep. Continue to repeat.
This exercise helps you to build core and upper back strength, which helps you maintain good posture on and off the bike. This move also improves your ability to transfer the power you generate from pulling on your bars into your legs to push the pedals, especially when climbing hills.
Start standing with your arms at your sides. Squat down, placing hands on floor, shoulder-width apart. Jump legs back into high plank position as you drop chest and hips to floor at the same time. Push back up to a high plank, then jump legs back in toward hands in a deep squat position. Extend legs and jump, raising arms overhead. Repeat.
This is one of best strength exercises for cyclists because can move to strengthen nearly every muscle, get the benefits of a little impact, and get your heart rate up when time is tight.
Lie facedown on mat, arms extended out straight overhead, legs straight and feet about hip-width apart. Engage your glutes and back to slowly lift your feet, chest, and hands about six inches off the floor. Lift right arm and left leg higher. Then lift left arm and right leg higher. Continue to alternate.
This exercise targets your entire back to counteract the stretching and weakening effect of all the time cyclists spend sitting in hunched forward position (whether over your handlebars, steering wheel, keyboard, or phone).
Start sitting on the floor with knees bent, heels on floor, holding a dumbbell in both hands at chest, shoulders relaxed. With a straight back, lean back from the hips until you feel your abs engage. Keeping heels on the floor and arms close to body, twist from the waist to the left. Twist back to the center. Then twist to the right. Return to the starting position to complete one rep. Continue alternating sides.
This exercise is one of best strength exercises for cyclists because it strengthens your obliques (side torso), which are the muscles that rotate your trunk, or in the case of cycling, minimize that rotation as your legs pedal up and down. When they’re weak, you are susceptible to too much twisting, which can cause aches and fatigue as well as wasted watts.
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out a little. Clasp hands together in front of chest. Send hips back and bend knees to squat down until your butt drops below knee level. Press through heels and straighten legs to return to starting position. Repeat.
Impact helps build bones. Research on people with mild knee osteoarthritis shows that impact moves like air squats also can protect your knees by thickening the cartilage and making them stronger.
Side Step-Up With Leg Lift
Hold dumbbells at your sides (or put your hands on hips if performing this exercise without weight). Stand to the left of a box or step. Place left foot on step and press through heel and straighten left leg to lift your body up while lifting the right leg up to the side as high as comfortably possible. Return to the starting position. Complete one set and then switch sides.
Working one leg at a time develops balanced strength (most of us have one side that is stronger). This move also targets your outer glutes so you’re more stable in the saddle and less prone to side-to-side rocking, which can cause back and knee pain.
Start standing with dumbbells at your sides. Keeping your eyes forward, chest lifted, and back flat, hinge at the hips and lower the weights toward the floor as you rotate palms to face you, allowing your knees to bend slightly. Keep the weight close to shins and lower until your torso is almost parallel to the floor. Contracting your glutes, push hips forward to return to the starting position. Repeat.
It works your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and lower back for powerful pedaling in and out of the saddle.
Lateral Lunge With Overhead Press
Stand with feet hip-width apart, dumbbells racked at shoulders. Lunge left by taking a big step to the left and sending hips back and bending left knee. Press back to the starting position, then press the weights overhead. Repeat lunging to the right. Continue to alternate.
This exercise covers two motions many cyclists miss: lateral (side to side) and overhead motion, both of which you need for general life function.
Planks are one of the simplest exercises in the book and one of the most effective at increasing core strength. Planks can be done anywhere and can be used year round. Planks target your shoulders, abdomen, and lower back. Lifting one leg can add a degree of difficulty to each set and further target the lower back. Start with hold times of 30-60 seconds per round and progress to 60-90 second hold times as you go through off-season training.
Using these 10 best strength exercises for cyclists above will help you build the type of strength you can use when you are on the bike. They require little in the way of equipment, and some can be done at home with no equipment. Taking the time to build strength in your shoulders, core and legs will help you ride longer and stronger all year.