Integrated Training for Improved Cycling Performance - Part 2

The previous article looked at postural issues and possible muscles imbalances involved with cycling. Now that we have an understanding of the imbalances that arise from a prolonged cycling position, we can develop an effective program for correcting those postural distortions.

The first part of the program is stretching the muscles that were identified as tight in the previous article (calves, quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, pectorals, trapezius, and neck flexors). Stretching returns muscles to their proper length-tension relationship. As stated in the previous article, tight muscles alter joint positions which in turn affect the opposing muscles ability to function properly. Each stretch should be held at least 20-30 seconds.

The next component is five minutes of light cardiovascular activity to increase blood flow to the active muscles and increase the efficiency of the kinetic chain. Treadmill or elliptical are great choices.

Core stabilization training is next. Stabilization training involves improving the ability of the transverse abdominis, internal obliques and the pelvic floor muscles too effectively stabilize the spine and pelvis during cycling. Stabilization exercises involve little to no movement through the lower back, hips, and pelvis. Exercises include a progression of teaching the lower abdominals and pelvic floor muscles to stabilize the spine correctly. Exercises include abdominal bracing (aka "drawing-in" maneuver), bridges, the DOG (quadruped) series of exercises, and planks. These exercises should be performed with 12-20 reps with a slow controlled movement.

Balance is a requirement during any type of riding, (endurance, tempo, sprints, climbing, etc) and involves a series of coordinated actions involving the muscular, nervous, and skeletal systems (aka , the kinetic chain). Balance training is designed to improve the body's kinetic chain efficiency. Performing simple exercises like balancing on one leg force the muscles surrounding the hip, knee, and ankle to stabilize their respective joints. As you become more balanced, you can gradually add slow controlled movements like single leg reaches and/or single leg squats.

The strength training portion of the program is designed to improve dynamic joint stabilization by performing exercises that are slow and controlled with higher repetitions. The strength exercises are performed using stability balls, dumbbells, and incorporating balance. Each exercise should be performed with 2-3 sets, 12-20 reps and can be performed in a circuit fashion. The speed should be 4-2-2, meaning, 4 seconds down, 2 seconds hold, 2 seconds up. This slow speed allows the muscles to stabilize the joints and increases force production and force reduction. Exercises focus on the major muscles of body (chest, back, shoulders, legs).

Dave Radin, CSCS, NASM-CPT, is a personal trainer with Precision Fitness. Precision Fitness is located in the Lake Norman area. Check out their website at http://www.lakenormanfitness.com. You can contact Dave at 704-662-8664, or by email at [email protected].

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