Top Exercises to Help Cyclists Ride Faster
No matter your goals for cycling, strength training is an essential ingredient to help you ride faster. Whether you're building up your speed for an event or just looking to match pace with other cyclists on long rides, these exercises can help increase your power, strength, and therefore your speed on your bike.
Some of these exercises use resistance bands like the ones at Victorem to build your power while being kind to your joints. Resistance training helps slow the dwindling muscle and bone mass that naturally happens as we get older.
The more powerful, strong, and flexible you are, the faster your cycling and the better equipped you'll be to ride without injury.
Here are some top exercises to help any cyclist ride faster.
Lunges are deceptively simple to do, yet they are a powerful way of exercising your whole lower body. Lunges strengthen your hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips.
To perform lunges effectively:
- Stand up tall with feet hip-distance apart, and take a big step forward with your right foot so that the heel touches down first. Keep your back straight, your chest forward, and your shoulders back.
- Bend your left knee till it comes just above the floor but without touching. Your right thigh will ideally be parallel to the floor, with your right knee directly above your right foot. (You don't want your right foot to be further forward than your knee, as this could hurt your knee.)
- Now push up from the heel of your right foot to return to a standing position. Repeat with your other foot forward.
Work towards doing three sets of 10 reps each, resting 45 seconds between each set. For beginners: If you have trouble keeping your balance, you can hold onto a bench or chair with one hand.
Advanced variation: To make lunges more challenging, you can wrap a resistance band around your thighs.
2. Box jumps
Box jumps are ideal for performing bursts of speed, as they train the muscles you need for sprinting.
To perform box jumps effectively:
- Find a sturdy box, bench, or platform at a height that you feel comfortable using.
- Stand facing your box with your knees slightly bent, your torso leaning slightly forwards, and your feet hip-distance apart.
- Sink into a quarter squat position and then push off with both feet while raising your arms to jump up onto the box. You want to land with your feet flat, and your knees slightly bent.
Note: Check your landing position. If you land in a quarter squat position, you'll know your box is at the right height for you. If you land deeper than that, it means your box is too high, and you'll need to adjust.
Work up to three sets of six reps each, resting 90 seconds between each set.
Advanced variation: Wrap a resistance band around your thighs, above the knee.
3. Kettlebell swings
Kettlebell swings will help you strengthen your pedal stroke while working all of the muscles in your body at once. You'll also improve your endurance for those longer rides.
To perform kettlebell swings effectively:
- Choose an appropriate weight, and stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees slightly while keeping your shoulders back and looking forward.
- Hold the kettlebell in both hands so that it is resting between your legs. Remember to keep your pelvis tucked in so that your back is straight throughout the movement.
- Now swing the kettlebell up to the height of your chest, pausing at the top. You want to extend your hips as you do this while tightening your core and glute muscles. Imagine you are lifting from your thighs.
- Lower the kettlebell with control to bring it back to your starting position. Work up to three sets of 15 reps each, resting 90 seconds between sets.
4. Russian twists
Russian twists are brilliant for improving your core stability, your balance, and your overall posture. You will give your obliques a good workout, which is essential as these muscles are often overlooked.
To perform Russian twists effectively:
- Sit on a mat or the floor. Extend both legs with your knees slightly bent.
- Raise your feet off the ground while keeping your back straight and your core muscles engaged. Ideally, you should be leaning slightly backwards, with your shoulders back.
- Now twist your torso from one side to the other while squeezing your core muscles. Your elbows should be bent with your arms in front of you. You can clasp your hands if you wish.
- Be sure to keep your feet off the ground as you twist and exhale as you reach each side.
Advanced variation: Hold a kettlebell or other weight as you twist. Work up to three sets of 10 reps each, resting for 60 seconds in between each set.
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