The trainer that I work with is a wealth of information. I love to pick her brain and absorb all of her knowledge beyond just our weekly workouts. Lately we have been talking about cycling and how proper form is extremely important. Activating the appropriate muscle groups and stretching is an integral component of any exercise regimen and the same holds true for any cycle/spin class.
Over the past few months, we have been incorporating different exercises into my workouts to strengthen the local stabilization system (typically referred to as “the core”). These commonly overlooked muscle groups are important building blocks as you cycle/spin. They support the larger muscles like your quads and hamstrings and allow more efficient and effective movement. The exercises that target those inner muscles will improve your pedal stroke and overall cycling strength.
So what are these key “inner” muscles?
- Transverse abdominis, internal obliques (Core)
- Hip flexors and pelvic floor
- Lower to middle back (multifidus muscle)
Here are some good exercises to strengthen the above mentioned:
CORE & HIPS
- Supermans– There are many variations. When performing these, ensure you are not hyperextending your lower back. The belly button should be pulled towards your spine (no arching) and your body should form a straight line. This a great exercise for core and back but it also works many other muscles in your arms and legs such as shoulders, quads and hamstrings. I call this exercise a strength and flexibility gem!
- Bridge– this is your hips and glutes best friend! These movements hit your entire pelvic area and core. You can use the exercise ring ( nayoya is great), free weights (place them on the corners of your hips) or you can use just body weight. Movements should be slow and controlled and you always squeeze on top. Concentrating on the movement and muscle used is a must for the bridge exercises.
- Isolated side plank, standard plank
- Abductor & Adductor movements – you can do these on the floor or standing, with or without resistance bands; These exercises not only target your inner and outer thigh muscles but they will contour and shape you glutes as well!
- Anything where you squeeze the shoulder blades together – rows, low rows;
As I said earlier, PROPER FORM while spinning/cycling is the key in order to be able to engage/activate the right muscle groups. Few key pointers to keep in mind:
- Engage your core throughout your ride
- Keep your chest up and shoulders down/relaxed
- Pedal with feet parallel to the floor. Push through the heel downward and maintain the parallel position during the upward pull.
Lastly, let’s talk about STRETCHING. When we spin, our body is not in a natural position for an extended period of time so there are certain muscles groups we need to stretch out (quads, hams) and certain ones we need to adjust back to its natural state (open chest and back) after we spin.
Few problems most of us encounter as we spin:
- Tight hip flexors (area in front of the body where your legs are connected to the torso)
- Tight hamstrings, quads & gluten
- Tight calves
- Shoulders rolling forward/slouching
There are many stretching techniques you can do but here are some of my favorites:
- Pigeon pose – hips, glutes, hip flexors
- Straddle – hamstrings
- Standing quadriceps stretch
- Anything that opens up chest – TRX or doorway stretch is great!
If you implement some of the strength exercises as described above, if you mind your form and if you stretch, you will develop more cycling strength and gain pedaling efficiency. And yes your output will soar as well!
Our body is a complex system but it is also very intelligently put together. If you take care of your body, your body will perform for you 100%. Be present and in tune while you workout. Be mindful of your movements. Concentrate. Your body will thank you thru giving you results!
Until Next Time,