Strength & Flexibility for Cyclists
Powerhouses, Poses, & Posture
66“I did Pilates three times a week…and started riding on the road and lifting weights. I am still riding off road on the mountain bike, as well as my new Colnago cross bike.” Levi Leipheimer on his injury rehab by improving alignment, muscle strength, and “horrible” posture
A powerhouse time trialist like Levi takes a multidisciplinary approach to total body conditioning. It’s his fulltime focus as one of the world’s best pros. Many cyclists use Pilates and other forms of functional strength training 67“to restore postural alignment, shift the spine back into position, open up the chest, ease and prevent back pain and relieve the tension caused by sitting for long periods in a mechanically unsound position.”
It’s true our noble chariots are hard on the body’s biomechanics. Cycling practitioners of the Pilates method, which emphasizes core strength from one’s “powerhouse” musculature, suggest reversing this through 68“exercises specifically for cyclists because of their emphasis on balanced overall strength and flexibility as well as their ability to help develop underused muscles.”
For functional strength to meet cycling’s sustained intensity, 69yoga is also an incredible counterbalance for core strength, flexibility and relaxation. We must work our cycling bodies in tandem with at least one of these 70functional and flexible practices; beginning in the off-season is best.
Prayer for Strength & Flexibility Conditioning
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest…for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” 71Hebrews 12:11-12
We are thankful for conditioning experts and anatomical options. We confess the same diligence we put into our legs is sometimes lacking for our lumbar. We pray for increased body strength and flexibility.
Ponder Is there any twinge, pain or tightness I’m ignoring? Affirm I can strengthen my cycling from the core. Watch how increased strength improves climbing and/or sprinting, and how greater flexibility improves aerodynamic considerations.
66“Levi Leipheimer Interview: Living up to Potential,” by Chris Henry 2002, www.cyclingnews.com
67“Cycling,” section on www.pilates-central.co.uk
The Pilates Method or Contrology was formulated by Joseph Pilates. Pilates called the core all the muscles between the elbows and knees and the spine’s primary stabilizer, transversus abdominus, the “powerhouse.” Most athletes must be taught to properly use this muscle by drawing in rather than protruding the stomach during core work. Known to be 50 years ahead of his time for proclaiming the benefits of functional strength conditioning, he authored Return to Life through Contrology (published by Pilates & Miller) in 1945. Friends who practiced with pure Joe knew of his incredible health and fitness well into his 80’s.
69Cycling-specific yoga or yoga for endurance athletes has developed in many studios in recent years, and a wide variety of media exists for your research. It’s my belief that all cyclists should practice key yoga poses to stretch quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, and neck and strengthen glutes, mid-back, and triceps.
71The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society