Here at Hygporium, we love cycling! We only dream about our next cycling session and when the weather is great, the roads are empty and there are no stops like traffic light or crossing, that for us is an indication for a good time.
If you have not been active on your bike, getting back onto cycling could be quite hard (like any sport really, it’s hard to get back on the saddle … literally!). So, we’re here to get your cycling fitness up to scratch. If however, you're already cycling regularly, we think that you will still get value out of this article.
Firstly, check your level of fitness and do level of exercise that is suitable for your level. If you don’t cycle regularly, don’t expect to be able to cycle for 100 miles straight out of the bat. We need to first condition our body to adapt to increasing strain and pressure from strenuous cycling. (The beauty about cycling though is that it imposes less strain on our joints unlike the impacts of running, which can exert up to 10 times the force when your foot lands on the ground). So we should slowly build up our cycling fitness.
Because cyclists predominantly use their leg muscles and cores, here are some exercises that you can do to strengthen some of these muscles group to get you to be cycling fit.1. Bulgarian Split Squat – 4 Sets, 6-8 reps on each side
Put one foot (leg up) towards the back on top of a bench, then with the other foot firmly planted on the ground, perform a downward descent / squat, keeping your posture vertically straight and your weight on the heel. The leg with the foot on the bench will also lower down with the knee almost touching the floor, then get back up.
PRO TIP – Hold a dumbbell to increase the weight and resistance for your muscle
2. Step up – 3 sets, 6 – 8 reps on each side
Find a bench or a box, put your leading foot up on this bench. Lean forward, keeping your chest straight then drive off the ground, ensuring that you place your weight on the heel and the middle of your leading foot. Once on top, return the following foot back onto the ground slowly and find your footing on the floor. The slower, the more balance you’ll develop.
PRO TIP – Start with a small height step and then work your way up to a higher step, and add extra weight to increase resistance.
3. Dumbbell Row – 3 sets, 6 – 8 reps on each side
Take a parallel stance with the bench, hinge forward, knees bent slightly, put your chest up (so that your spine is straight – or also called a neutral spine position, we don’t want a curved back). Then maintaining this position, pick up the dumbbell with your hand towards the side of your hip and then lower it back down.
(Credit: optimum therapy)
4. Inverted Row Bar – 4 sets, 6 – 8 reps each
Take a solid bar and place between 2 objects (like a bench or seats), lie down on the floor between the 2 objects and bring your chest in line with the bar. Hold onto the bar, shoulder widths apart with reverse grip (your palm facing towards you). Pull yourself towards the bar upwards, locking your shoulder muscle on the way up, and lower yourself down slowly.
PRO TIP – If you can’t lift yourself, try to position the bar somewhere higher first and do an inclined pull. For example, doing it against a fence or a railing in a park, then slowly work your way towards the inverted row bar.
Keeping your chest up and straight, lunge towards the front with your leading foot, until your leading leg’s knee is 90 degrees bent, whilst the following leg’s is also bent (with knee almost touching the floor). Pull your following leg up back towards a standing position and follow onto the next step with same pattern as before (lunging until the front leg is 90 degrees bent).
PRO TIP – Hold some dumbbells or kettle bells for more resistance
These exercises are compound exercises, and we think they are great because not only does it condition and strengthen your muscles, but performed correctly they will also improve your balance and stability. Do this exercise with increasing resistance by using extra weights. If you don’t have access to a gym or dumbbells, you can use books, or sacks of rice, or bottle of water. Be creative and find something that can be used as that extra weight or extra resistance. Your cycling fitness will improve in no time and it will also help in reducing injury as your muscle is now conditioned.