Don’t let winter wreck your biking routine. Use the cold weather to build a foundation instead. A stretch of less-than-ideal biking weather is the perfect time to dial down your cardiovascular training and concentrate on strengthening your muscles. A little strength training in the off-season will keep you on top of your game come springtime.
Don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place. About.com asked Performance Physical Therapy's Tim King, DPT, OCS, CSCS, ART, doctor of physical therapy, orthopedic clinical specialist, certified strength and conditioning specialist, active release technique certified, to share five exercises—specifically for cyclists—that will help build stronger muscles and increase cycling performance.
1. Walking Lunge With Medicine Ball Rotation
Start with your feet together, holding the ball in front of you with your elbows extended and palms facing each other. Keeping your back straight, head up and both hands in front of you, step forward, bending your front knee to a 90-degree angle and lowering to the ground until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Make sure your back knee drops straight down behind you. As you lower down, simultaneously bring the medicine ball across your body to the side of your forward leg, then return to central and step forward. Repeat on the other side.
2. Exercise Ball Hamstring Curl
Start by lying on your back, with your knees extended, heels resting on an exercise ball. Raise your hips so that only your shoulders are touching the ground. You may place your hands on either side of your hips to help stabilize. Slowly bend your knees, bringing the exercise ball close to you, until your knees are fully bent. Hold for two seconds, then slowly extend your knees, moving the ball away from you. To increase the difficulty, hold one leg in the air and perform a single leg hamstring curl.
3. Front Plank With Hip Extension
Start by lying face down on the ground with your forearms resting flat on the ground, shoulder width apart, elbows directly beneath your shoulders, feet on your tiptoes. Slowly raise your entire torso and hips off the ground, establishing a straight horizontal position so that only your forearms and toes touch the ground. Maintain a straight spine and avoid arching your lower back or rounding your upper back. Maintaining this position, keep one leg straight and raise that foot off the ground and hold for five to 10 seconds. Place the foot down, then raise the other leg and hold for five to 10 seconds. Place the foot down, lower your body to the ground, rest, then repeat.
4. Core Squat With Medicine Ball
Start with feet shoulder width apart, holding a medicine ball at your chest with both hands. Squat down to the ground, maintaining a neutral spine, until your thighs are parallel to ground, keeping your knees over your toes and chest upright. As you squat down, extend your elbows as you hold the medicine ball, keeping it at chest level. Hold at bottom position for three to five seconds. As you stand back up, bring the medicine ball back to your chest then repeat.
5. Pushup To Rotation
Start by lying flat on the ground in a pushup position, hands slightly wider than shoulder width and feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Maintain your spine in a neutral position. Push your body up off the ground. Once your elbows are fully extended, rotate your hips and trunk, lifting one arm in a smooth arc toward the ceiling, ultimately pointing your hand straight up to the ceiling. Your feet will be split apart, weight on the edges of your shoes; torso and hips remain straight. Hold for three seconds, lower your hand back so you are back in a pushup position and repeat.