The sport of cycling can be as challenging as the rider wants it to be. Meeting that challenge means developing power in the prime lower-body movers, particularly the quads and glutes, while creating balanced strength in the supporting muscles. It demands rock-solid core muscles for your legs to push against, which will also help transfer power from your arms as you pull the handlebar.
Dara Marks-Marino, NASM-CPT, a USA Cycling–certified Level 3 coach, USA Triathlon–certified Level 1 coach, and owner of The Mindful Athlete in Flagstaff, Ariz., created this routine to address those needs. This is an Optimum Performance Training™ (OPT™) mixed-phase program that alternates upper- and lower-body exercises. Modify each exercise to your client’s needs and abilities. (For example, for clients in OPT Phase One, stabilize and hold the landing of the lunge jumps for three to five seconds and reduce repetitions.) Complete the circuit two or three times, with minimal rest between exercises. Include a warm-up and cool-down to address problem areas such as the hip flexors, hamstrings, IT bands, and chest.
“Clients can incorporate these exercises into their regular routine as they see fit,” says Marks-Marino. Active triathletes, for example, might perform the moves once a week; others might perform the moves two or three times a week, with a day or two for recovery between workouts.
1 Quadruped Knee Circles
A. Start in a quadruped position, hands directly beneath shoulders, knees beneath hips.
B. Engage your core, lift left knee off the floor, and make large circles with your left knee, keeping back and hips level.
Do 15 reps, then change directions; repeat with other leg.
2 BOSU Plank with Knee In
A. Place BOSU flat-side down. Put both hands on dome, shoulder-width apart. Extend body into plank position.
B. Engage core and bring right knee forward to right elbow. Repeat 5 times.
C. Bring right knee forward and across body, to left elbow. Repeat 5 times.
D. Bring right knee forward and to the outside of right elbow. Repeat 5 times.
Repeat the set with left leg.
3 Step-Ups with Leg Extension
A. Use a 12- to 14-inch step (similar to the distance from one pedal to the other). Hold dumbbells in each hand and place right foot on the step.
B. Press into right foot and extend right leg, stepping up while extending left leg to the rear and engaging the glutes. Return to starting position.
Do 15 reps with each leg.
4 Lunge Jumps
A. Start in a stationary lunge position with right leg in front.
B. After lowering to the bottom of the lunge, explosively jump up, switching the lead leg in midair. Land and immediately repeat. One rep is completed after right leg is again the lead leg.
Do 10 reps.
5 Flies on Ball
A .Begin in supine position, with stability ball under upper back. Rest head gently back, and engage glutes; come to a tabletop position. Holding medium-weight dumbbells, extend your arms directly above your chest.
B. Open arms out to sides, then return to start position, maintaining slight bend at elbows.
Do 15 reps.
6 Romanian Deadlift
A. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold dumbbells or a barbell, arms extended.
B. Hinge forward at the hips, keeping back perfectly flat, and lower weight toward floor. Engage glutes and return to standing position.
Do 15 reps.
See how to do a Romanian Deadlift with Dumbbells here.
7 Alternating Triceps Extension with Single-Leg Balance
A. Hold the double-handle attachments on a cable set to waist-high position; balance on one foot. Keep elbows close to sides, with a 90-degree bend at the elbow.
B. Straighten one arm. While returning that arm to a 90-degree bend, straighten the other arm.
Do 10 reps; switch balance leg halfway through.
8 Curtsy Lunges
A .Hold a dumbbell in each hand. Balance on left foot.
B. Bend left leg until thigh is parallel to the floor; reach right foot behind and across body as though doing a deep curtsy. Return to “A” position.
Do 15 reps with each leg.
9 Lawn Mowers
A. Set a cable pulley to the lowest height setting. Stand with left leg forward, right leg behind, both knees slightly bent and hips facing the pulley. Hold the pulley handle in right hand, arm extended toward pulley.
B. Engage core and pull back and up, finishing the movement with elbow high and to the back, hand near right shoulder. While pulling, pivot on back (right) foot.
Do 15 reps on each side.
The sport of cycling, though low-impact, can be as challenging as the rider wants it to be. NASM’s OPT™ model can help cyclists build balanced full-body strength. For more on cycling check out this blog on helping clients enjoy cycling.