To become a better cyclists you don’t have to spend more time on your bike. For a change of pace, consider going to the gym, or working out at home, with the four best exercises for cycling.
You don’t need any weights or resistance to do these exercises, but they help. A set of adjustable dumbbells up to 25 lbs each, with a bench included, is less than $320 at Flybird Fitness.
Always pay attention to your limits when exercising, especially if you use weights for added resistance. Serious injuries can occur if you use improper form, or strain your body by using too much resistance and pushing too hard.
If you’ve never done lunges make sure you start without added resistance. I did my first lunge at age 28 when I was in peak physical form. I could barely get out of bed the next day. Those of you who know what lunges feel like the next day, feel free to add resistance by carrying a dumbbell.
Avoid dumbbell weights more than one quarter of your body weight. For example, a 150 lbs cyclist will use a maximum weight of roughly 35 lbs. By sticking to this rule you decrease your risk of injury. When one quarter of your body weight no longer feels like a challenge, simply increase the number of reps.
Lunges work the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. All extremely important muscles for cyclists looking to improve power output.
2. Leg Lifts
The name implies this exercise is working the legs, and that’s true, but more importantly is the core strength improvement you get from doing leg lifts. This is a great exercise to work the lower and upper abs, hamstrings, quadriceps, hip flexors, and lower back muscles.
You need strong legs to ride a bike, but don’t underestimate how important core strength is. Core strength is the key to efficiency when cycling. A strong core allows your upper body to maintain a solid structure taking the energy that would otherwise cause you to sway side-to-side and transfers it to your pedals.
To add resistance, and increase the core muscles affected by the workout, hold your hands raised with dumbbells, or complete this workout from a bench and use a velcro strap to hang a dumbbell from your feet.
3. Leg Extensions
Without access to a leg extension machine this is the most difficult exercise to complete at home while maintaining good form. The easiest way is to start by sitting up high. If you’re using a bench you will need to get about 4-6 inches higher. From there you should be able to hold a dumbbell between your feet. If you don’t have dumbbells, use a resistance band.
Leg extensions are an isolation exercise to work your quadriceps. It also strengthens the patellar ligament. Think of leg extensions as an injury prevention exercise, while also strengthening your most important cycling muscle.
Many bodybuilders will argue squats over leg extensions for quadricep growth, but studies like this Squat vs. Leg Extensions have determined leg extensions are the superior exercise cyclists should focus on.
4. Dumbbell Rowboat
Finally, the dumbbell rowboat. Again, this exercise does not require resistance with a dumbbell. You may be able to work one side at a time with a resistance band, or simply increase your number of repetitions.
This is another exercise that works your core, but also adds in a little upper body. Cyclists train their upper body to create counterforce, which again is the process of stopping side to side motion and transferring that energy to your pedals.
While this is listed as the final exercise in this four best exercises for cycling list, it is equally as important as exercises one, two and three.
If you enjoyed the best exercises for cycling, consider reading mistakes to avoid when biking.