You may recall what it feels like to get back on the bike at the beginning of every season. And, for me at least, it’s surprise how much it hurts! All that I remember is how long and hard I could ride last fall. Now my seat, wrists, elbows, shoulders, neck, hips and quads are either 1) burning 2) are sore 3) tight, or 4) achy.
Here’s a quick and easy strength training/ stretch workout geared specifically to help you go from sitting on the couch to sitting on that tiny bike seat as painlessly as possible. You’ll get stronger faster, so you can enjoy those good rides again.
These are a few exercises that will build the power and endurance you are looking to gain on the bike, and they are each followed by a stretch that will keep your body loose and feeling good.
First up is a simple pushup, but we’ll be doing close-grip, so you hands are at or within shoulder width apart. This will focus on more on your triceps so your shoulder and arms won’t get tired on the bike. Keep your head up and your body straight. This is a great go-to move that also builds quality core strength. Do one set of as many reps as you can with perfect form, making sure you use picture-perfect form.
Balance Ball Upper-Body Stretch
After that, grab a stability ball or a bench – anything you can lean back on. Simply extend your arms overhead and allow gravity to pull downward, stretching your chest, neck, and torso. Hold this for at least 40 seconds or more, until you feel your muscles loosening up and relaxing. This is great for your posture, too, as a good stretch for the bike.
Drop Step Steam Engine
Now we want to build the lower body leg power with a reverse lunge. But not just quads, we need strong hips, so that’s why I like this move.
Step back into a nice low lunge. Upon coming back up, focus on using your gluten to drive your hips up and forward. At the top, keep your leg swinging and give it a twist and a crunch at the top for some extra core and hip flexor attention. This movement at the top will help with your full-circle pedaling and give you move torque on the back half of the pedal stroke.
Alternate legs and go until you get a nice burn going on.
Lunge Stretch with Quads
On your last rep, keep it down and the bottom and move into a deep lunge stretch. Then reach back to grab your foot for an extra quad stretch. I love this combo stretch for the hips because it will keep your lower back healthy and strong. Hold this for at least 40 seconds or more, until you feel your muscles loosening up and relaxing.
Hip Bridge with Toe Touch
Muscle balance and core stability is crucial for cyclist, and here’s a good one that hits both of those. Lie on your back with knees bent and heels planted on the ground. Driving your weight off your feet, squeeze your buns to lift and press your hips to the sky. At the top, feel it in your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back before slowly lowering it down.
This is another great move for cyclists to gain core strength as well as to keep your hips and lower back strong. Tying in the hamstrings is another good one for full-circle pedaling and muscle balance in your hips and lower legs.
Start with both feet, and as you progress, try sets with one leg at a time. For the advanced, use one leg and add an extra reach to the opposite toe to tie in a cross-crunch for your core.
One of my all-time favorite stretches, especially for the bike, is what I call the seal stretch. You will simple start in a pushup/plank position and let your hips and thighs rest on the ground as you arch your body up and back. This elongates your stomach muscles all the way down into your hip flexors. This stretch exercise for the bike feels great and counteracts the forward bend you maintain in aero position.
Hold this for at least 40 seconds or more, until you feel your muscles loosening up and relaxing.