So you bought yourself a bike and now you are an ardent cyclist. You feel better physically and mentally. You are in better shape and your endurance has increased substantially. You feel stronger, have begun to save on gas money and you have even begun to sleep better.
To begin with, congratulations on your new lifestyle. Not only are you improving your own health, but are also going to make a positive difference to the environment. We need more people like you!
If you’ve been at it for a while, you soon realize that your routine ride to and from work is just not cutting it anymore, you’ve hit a plateau. Don’t worry! We’re going to point you in the right direction so you feel challenged again.
While cycling is a great compound exercise that works multiple muscles, it is still not exactly a full body workout. Yes! Your core, abs, obliques, glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and hip flexors (not to mention your heart muscles) all become stronger as a result of regular cycling, but other muscles in your back, arms, chest and shoulders, which are very important for functional strength and overall fitness, are underutilized while cycling.
Therefore, it would be a stellar idea to incorporate some strength training (at least a couple of days of the week) in the weight room to maximize your results and keep you looking like a lean, mean fighting machine! Here are some compound exercises that should not be overlooked at any cost.
- Deadlift: There aren’t many exercises that can compare to the good old deadlift, the king of mass builders! The archaic act of gripping onto a loaded barbell and picking it up off the floor works out your entire body like you will not believe. Make sure to keep good form throughout, go as heavy as you can without compromising form. Be sure to get your stance and posture right before the actual lift and then try to lower the weight in a slow and controlled manner. Repeat until your set is complete. Remember – quality over quantity! Maintain good form and avoid injuries.
- Squats: widely regarded as one of the best exercises in the fitness industry, the squat is crucial for building muscle, improving stability and increasing functional strength. Like the dead lift, the most important thing while performing squats (front squat or back squat, weighted or non-weighted) is to maintain impressive form and controlled pace throughout the exercise. There is a lot of information and videos out there on how to perform the perfect squat, in fact, there is an information overload.
- Pull ups & push-ups: bodyweight exercises like the classic pull-ups and push-ups should not be ignored at any cost. They are compound exercises that work out the entire upper body and core. To make them more effective and challenging, do your pull-ups from dead hangs and consider using push-up bars to give you more range of motion. With body weight exercises, the rule of thumb is simple – do as many as you can and then some (with good form).
- Lunges: Lunges are a marvelous balance exercise which works out the entire lower body and core. It will help make you an even better, faster, and stronger cyclist since it focuses on muscles that you will use the most while cycling.
- Rows: Long hours of cycling mean that you remain in a hunched over position for more time than your body prefers. The rounded upper back, the forward falling head position, and shoulders pulled closely together – that means serious underutilization of your back muscles. So, it is especially important for cyclists to incorporate some strength training that isolates the back muscles. Achieve this by taking up some rowing sessions, which are perfect for developing and toning muscles of the chest, between the shoulder blades, and neck. There are several types of rows and we recommend you incorporate all of them. Variety is the spice of life. Remember to keep your back flat since you are bent over to perform rows to avoid undue stress and injury to the lower back. Keep your form clean and control the motion. Uncontrolled and momentum assisted rows are bad for you and are known to cause abdominal/inguinal hernia in men.
- Stretching: The forward hunch is best countered by stretching the muscles on the front of your neck including sternocleidomastoid along with the pectoralis major and minor. Rowing ensures that your rhomboid muscles remain strong, developed, and toned which helps to counteract rounded shoulders and upper back.
Additionally, please ensure to properly stretch and warm-up before performing these exercises. Going right into heavy lifts with a cold, un-stretched body is a terrible idea and puts you at a real risk of sustaining disabling injuries. Make sure to stretch your whole body and emphasize your legs, back, pecs, and even the neck muscles.
Written by Benjamin Roussey for bodono.
Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA. He has two master’s degrees and served four years in the US Navy. His bachelor’s degree is from CSUS (1999) where he was on a baseball pitching scholarship. He has an MBA in Global Management from the Univ. of Phoenix (2006) where he attributes his writing prowess. He has worked everywhere from small businesses to large corporations, and also for public agencies. He has lived in Korea and Saudi Arabia where he was an ESL instructor. He misses Saudi food and living in Korea. Benjamin has a tremendous work ethic and is quite focused. Now he writes professionally for several clients that covers one sector of our economy to another. Currently he lives in the Phoenix area after living in Cabo San Lucas, MX for 3 years. He enjoys sports, movies, reading, and current events when he is not working online: www.infinista.com.