Top Stretching & Strength Exercises for Cyclists

As most of you cyclists are about to embark on your winter training, I thought I’d give you a ‘heads Up’ on what we would prioritise for you guys in terms of mobilisations, flexibility and strength training exercises. You might think that you’d need to strengthen the muscles you use while cycling to improve when, in reality the opposite is true. To get the most out of a muscle its antagonist (opposing muscles) must be strong. So, in the case of the cyclists (and most endurance sports) the quadriceps and hip flexors are dominant and the poor posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) get overlooked. Until now that is…

  • Self Myofascial Release Work on the ITB, Quads and Calves

    Foam Rolling has been one of the biggest finds in the industry over the past 10 years and as I say to all clients; given the choice between this and stretching I’d choose foam rolling. It’s that good! Simply roll as shown below between the hip and knee and hold for 10 seconds on the tight spots. Don’t overdo things – you’re better off performing regularly. If your of a ‘light’ build forget the foam roll and get a PVC pipe – you’ll love it… Honest!
  • Stretching Hip Flexors, Quadriceps and Calves

    While your poor old hamstrings waste away and don’t contribute your hip flexors and quadriceps are the busiest, most overused muscles on the bike. Vladimir Janda (well known expert on postural dysfunction) states that 90% of all postural problems start with tight hip flexors. By calming these guys down you’ll give the opposing muscle (the glutes) a chance to fire. When it does, it can seriously up your power output. After all, it’s the largest skeletal muscle in the body. The quads and calves are also victims of overuse and need stretching. Perform the below:

  • Glute Contractions and Supine Hip Extensions

    Lie down on your front and squeeze your butt cheeks together. Got it? Many of you wont and instead you’ll be squeezing your quads and abs. Relax these and try again but only squeeze your butt to 30%. Repeat as many times as it takes, once gained, turn over onto your back, bend your legs, and repeat. Once again don’t grip those other muscles. Tap your butt with your finger tips to tell your brain what you want to work!! Once this butt is working we can progress into the supine hip extension.

  • Stiff Leg single Leg Deadlift

    One of my favourites exercises as it does so much. You can judge fatigue, wake up the central nervous system, improve balance and teach people to hip-hinge / bend / teach abdominal bracing and get the posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings) firing! It’s quite common for cyclists of all levels to struggle with this exercise as they’re simply not used to spending time on one leg!

  • Lower Abdominal Work / Foam roll marching

    The lower back should be a stable part of the body while the hips should be mobile. As we’ve discussed above and in previous blogs on this subject this isn’t often the case. We need to strengthen the lower abdominals to stabilise the lower back. Here is a great exercise to get you going starting with another great use of the foam roll.


4 thoughts on “Top Stretching & Strength Exercises for Cyclists

  1. Les Haines via Facebook

    Really good this…im the worlds worst!!

    1. Ady

      Cheers Les – good to hear from you. I don’t think you’re the worst as I’ve seen you do a few stretches!

  2. Jim Pettipher

    Well that explains a lot Ady! Switching from bike to rowing boat & struggling to get “the catch” i.e. the point when a rower is most compressed, blade goes into the water, glutes fire followed by leg drive. Might just have to give this a go… So when are you opening your Ross centre?!

    1. Ady

      Hi Jim,
      Thanks for the comments and yes the exercises listed would help. You could also do with adding ‘Stiff Leg Deadlifts’ to the exercises in the article. No plans of a Ross centre just yet but my Rotherwas base is easily accessible for you guys! Lets get a workshop planned for the rowing club!

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