Here are some great exercises for cyclists that will boost their game and enhance their performance in the saddle.
Cyclists are often guilty of putting resistance training on the back burner in favor of maximum saddle time. The good news is that you don’t need to go to a gym, buy new equipment, or even leave your living room to get the job done.
These exercises target all the muscles that support cyclists in the saddle, but they are muscles that cycling itself doesn’t strengthen. So by strengthening these muscles, you will ward off overuse injuries and set yourself up for a successful cycling season ahead.
These exercises are also great to do on the days when you don’t cycle or perhaps can’t cycle due to weather conditions or illness.
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Great Exercises For Cyclists
Perform the exercises below circuit-style, going from one move to the next with minimum rest between moves. Do 10 to 20 reps of each move (depending on your starting strength level). Try to perform the entire circuit 3 times and aim to perform the workout 2 to 3 days per week.
Exercise No. 1 – Superman
This move is designed to strengthen your glutes, lower back, and erector spinae muscles, which are the muscles that run along your spine and spend most of their time stretched out and flexed forward when you ride your bike.
Lie facing down on a mat, arms fully extended in front of you, palms down. Squeeze your glutes and simultaneously lift arms, legs, and chest off the floor. Hold for 2 seconds. Lower back to the starting position and repeat.
Make it easier: Start by lifting just one arm and leg at a time, alternating sides throughout the set.
You must protect your lower back from injury by trying to lift your belly off of the floor as you do these exercises.
Exercise No. 2 – Push Up
This move builds strength in your shoulders, chest, and triceps, which support you on the handlebars. It also improves your core strength and stability – both of which help you put more power in your pedals.
Start in a high plank position, shoulders over wrists, core, glutes, and legs engaged. Bend the elbows to lower chest to the floor. Elbows should point back at a 45-degree angle. Push back up to starting position, making sure to keep hips in line with the rest of the body. If you can’t push up without dipping hips or get chest to floor, drop to knees to build strength.
Make it harder: After you perform the push up, walk left hand and left foot over to the right so your hands and feet are next to each other. Then step right hand and foot back out so you’re in a wide plank position. Perform another push up and walk your right hand and foot back to the left. Repeat, alternating sides throughout the set.
Exercise No. 3 – Shoulder Bridge
This move strengthens your glutes, which are often neglected during cycling, and can help keep you stable in the saddle and eliminate back pain. It also strengthens your core and hips.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Keeping thighs parallel to each other, contract glutes and lift hips up toward the ceiling so your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Rest arms at your sides, palms down, or intensify the move by clasping your hands beneath you. Hold for a 3 seconds. Lower back to starting position and repeat.
Exercise No. 4 – Jump Squat
This move strengthens the prime movers in your pedal stroke, your quads, while also adding some impact to help build bone strength, which cycling alone doesn’t do.
Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out. Clasp hands in front of chest for balance. Send hips back and bend knees to squat down until your butt drops below knee level. As you rise back up, explode off the floor and jump. Land softly, immediately dropping into another squat. Repeat.
Make sure to keep your knees over your toes at all times.
Exercise No. 5 – Curtsy Squat
This move fires up your outer glutes, which are usually quite weak in cyclists. Strong outer glutes can improve your pedaling mechanics and also prevent knee pain.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, hands clasped at chest in front of you. Take a big step diagonally forward inwards with your right foot, crossing right leg in front of the left. Keeping your back straight, bend knees and lower hips toward floor until right leg is bent to about 90 degrees. Push back up to starting position. Repeat then switch legs.
Exercise No. 6 – Walking Lunges/Squats
Take a big step forward on your right leg so that your leg is a 90 degree angle behind your knee. Back knee should be close to the floor.
Now step forward onto your left leg and stay as low as you can.
Walk like this until you feel the burn in your legs.
If you want to improve your cycling with other forms of training, there are a lot of great books available that can help you strengthen your game.
Simply click on the book you are interested in to find out more. Here are some of my favorites.