Strengthen & stabilize those cycling muscles!
BY DRS. RYAN WIGNESS & TORBEN JENSEN
Cyclists share in common specific areas of weakness or instability, but there are simple exercises that can help strengthen and stabilize these areas to keep you comfortable, strong, and efficient for a great day on the bike. Below is Part 3, continued from the last issue of Endurance News.
HIPS, GLUTES, AND LOWER BACK
Most cyclists have an extremely difficult time engaging their gluteus maximus muscles at all. This is most likely because we concentrate on pushing through the quad and pulling through the hamstring in an attempt to create smooth circular pedal strokes. Unfortunately, not using the glute max muscle prevents us from using one of the strongest muscles in our body and our most powerful hip extensor muscle, thereby reducing our maximal power output significantly. Also, because the cyclist is always moving their body in the saggital plane (in a line parallel to the midline, forward and backward) and rarely laterally, we become unstable with lateral movements and open ourselves up to injuries of the lateral hip once we hop off of our bikes and start walking.
Performing these exercises will help improve respiration, stability, and endurance on the bike thereby increasing power, efficiency, and enjoyment for those awesome summer rides coming up. Have fun and ride fast!
To strengthen and activate the glutes in the lateral plane:
- Lay on your right side and elbow with right elbow placed beneath right shoulder with your weight on your right elbow, forearm, and open hand.
- Flex knees and hips slightly with head, hip, and shoulder lined up. Rest your left hand on your left thigh. Keep shoulders and hips perpendicular to the floor and not rolling forward or backward.
- Belly breathe and elongate your spine while you draw your right shoulder down and back toward your back right pocket (spine straight and relaxed).
- Press your right knee downward toward the floor; your right hip should lift from the floor. If possible, do not add support with your up-side leg, and lift your leg and knee slightly.
- Lift your hip until your body forms a straight line from your spine to a point between your ankles. Hold for 10 seconds and lower yourself to the floor. Repeat 10 times. (After you can easily perform 10 reps for 10 seconds, add movement with your arm like you are reaching forward and move your leg forward into flexion slowly. Repeat 10 times.)