As a female cyclist, it’s important always to remember to keep your strength up at all times. Why would this be so important? Well, you must remember that to be a top-notch cyclist, you need to have a proper amount of strength in your body. Especially as a mountain biker, you will be enduring a lot of rough terrains, going up and down steep hills. It’s so important that you keep your strength up, but how genuinely? What kind of exercises should I do as a female cyclist that will keep my power up? Excellent question and below, we are going to be going over ten of the top strength training exercises that will build your strength up as a female cyclist.
The Front Plank
The front plank is a great workout when you are trying to build optimal strength as a female cyclist because it tends to work all the core muscles in your body at once. Why do front planks help when it comes to riding a bicycle? I’m glad you asked that because what front planks do is build the strength and muscular endurance you will need to ride powerfully in drops or in aero position.
Keep in mind that front planks will tighten all the muscles in which are needed to endure rough, fast riding because all the core muscles have been stretched. How does one perform a front plank? To complete a front plank, you must first lie prone (on your stomach) on an exercise mat or floor with your elbows close to your sides and directly under your shoulders, palms down and hands facing forward.
Contract your quadriceps to extend your legs and dorsiflex your ankles (pull toes towards your shins). Contract your core and abdominal muscles to stiffen your torso. The next thing you will need to do is slowly lift your entire body off the floor or mat, maintaining a stiff chest and legs. Avoid any arching (sagging) in your low back, hiking (upwards) in your hips or bending in the knees.
Avoid shrugging your shoulder and keep your shoulders positioned directly over your elbows with your palms facing down. Continue to breathe while holding this position for a specified time (5+ seconds). The last step you will need to do is while you’re maintaining a stiff torso and extended knees, gently lower your body back towards the mat or floor before relaxing.
This is another fantastic exercise to help you build maximum strength, so cycling will not wear you out so quickly. This type of training will help you to make the muscle for climbing and sprinting, and we all know that you do quite a lot of that during mountain biking and overall, regular cycling. Keep in mind that a lot of people will add dumbbells in with their squats for added durability and overall strength.
To correctly perform a half squat, one must first hold the dumbbells out even with their shoulders. This can most definitely seem like a challenge, so I would start out by using the one or three-pound dumbbell for the half squat. Now, what you will need to do next is squat downwards, and unlike a regular squat you are only going to go mid-way down and then lift the weight back up, and that’s it! That’s all there is to it when it comes to performing a half squat! Seems simple, doesn’t it?
Single Leg Hip-Bridge
This is one of the top core exercises when it comes to strength training and keeping a great and healthy body! How will a single leg hip-bridge help when it comes to riding a bicycle? Well, by performing this exercise, it will help to improve strength, speed, and overall endurance on the bike and that’s precisely what you will need out there cycling with other people and not only that but to make yourself a better cyclist in general.
To perform the single leg hip-bridge, you must first start out by laying face up on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms at your side with your palms down. You will then need to lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders form a straight line. Squeeze those glutes hard and keep your abdominal muscles drawn in, so you don’t overextend your back during the exercise. Lastly, you will need to hold your bridged position for a couple of seconds before easing back down.
Lunges with Bicep Curl
This fantastic strength training exercise will develop and strengthen the quads, glutes, deltoids, as well the biceps. Keep in mind that this particular use will help when you need to stand up and accelerate on your bicycle. To make your bike go faster and with more vigor, you are going to need to be skilled at building up the quads, glutes, deltoids, and the biceps.
This exercise will do that for you, but how does one learn the skill of the lunges with bicep curl? Well, first, you will need to stand tall with your feet hip distance apart. Take a significant step forward with one foot and lower your body toward the floor. Both legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle at the bottom of the lunge. Then, you will bring your weights in towards your shoulders to complete the bicep curl, then push off the front foot and return to the start. The last step you will need to do is to merely repeat on the other side.
This is a fantastic workout, not just for cyclists, but for anyone wanting to build up their abdominal muscles! What does this exercise do? Well, the boat pose will help you to grow stronger ab muscles and keep your lower back healthy. How does the boat pose help with cycling? This exercise helps by allowing you to be more comfortable and experience less pain in forwarding cycling positions! Doesn’t that sound amazing? It’s just not getting out and jumping on a bike, but you must adequately prepare your body to be a successful bicycle rider.
To do the boat pose, you must first begin seated with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hands resting beside your hips. Draw your awareness inward and focus on your breath. Allow your inhalations and exhalations to be smooth, calm, and even. You will then need to lean back slightly and lift your feet, bringing your shins parallel to the floor. Draw in your lower back, lift your chest, and lengthen the front of your torso. Then, extend your arms forward, in line with your shoulders with your palms facing each other.
Take care not to let your lower back sag or chest collapse. You will then need to lengthen the front of your torso from your pubic bone to the top of your sternum. The lower belly (the area below your navel) should be firm and somewhat flat, but not hard or thick. With an exhalation, straighten your legs to a 45-degree angle from the ground, bringing your body into a “V” shape.
Keep your breath smooth, steady, and smooth.
Focus your awareness within. Soften your eyes and your face. Gaze at your toes. Spread your shoulder blades wide and reach out through your fingers, actively engaging your hands. Stay in the pose for five breaths, gradually working up to one minute. To release the pose, exhale as you lower your legs and hands to the floor.
Single Leg Reach
This exercise will work the hips, core, and proprioception and keep in mind that the hip and core strength will ultimately improve your balance on the bike. This is necessary when it comes to developing your balance and overall bike handling. We all know that when cycling, balance is one of the top elements that we, as female cyclists need to be highly skilled at. Having great balance could be a matter of life and death.
To perform a single leg reach, one must stand with all your weight in your left foot, abdominal muscles engaged, and chest lifted. Reach your torso forward as you lift your right leg behind you. Reach your arms overhead for balance as your body and leg come parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a moment, and reach through your right heel to engage the back of the right leg. Moving in one piece, lower your right leg toward the floor as you return to standing upright, resting the right foot lightly on the ground. This completes one rep. Do 15 reps before switching sides.
Single Arm Row
This workout will help you to strengthen your back, shoulders, as well the hips. This exercise is to be completed with a lightweight dumbbell. What a lot of people fail to realize is that the scapular region is a common area of fatigue amongst road cyclists due to the hunched position on the bicycle itself. Keep in mind that strengthening these muscles will prevent injury, as well helping you to ride longer without that awful discomfort.
How does one perform a single arm row? Well, you must first choose a flat bench and place a dumbbell on each side of it. Place the right leg on top of the end of the court, bend your torso forward from the waist until your upper body is parallel to the floor, and place your right hand on the other end of the bench for support. Use the left side to pick up the dumbbell on the floor and hold the weight while keeping your lower back straight. The palm should be facing your torso.
This will be your starting position. Pull the resistance straight up to the side of your chest, keeping your upper arm close to your team and keeping the torso stationary. Breathe out as you perform this step. Tip: Focus on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. Also, make sure that the force is shown with the back muscles and not the arms. Finally, the upper torso should persist stationary, and only the arms should move.
The forearms should do no other work except for holding the dumbbell; therefore, do not try to pull the dumbbell up using the forearms. Lower the resistance straight down to the starting position. Breathe in as you perform this step. Repeat the movement for the specified amount of repetitions. You will then need to switch sides and repeat with the other arm.
This type of exercise is also completed with a lightweight dumbbell. What this workout will do is strengthen are the quads and the glutes. Make sure that you also have a stepping pad/block in front of you, so you will have something to step up on as the workout is in progression. There isn’t much to know when it comes to a necessary step up, remember that. All that you need to do is have a lightweight dumbbell in your hand, keep it level with your hips and just step up on your exercise block. This type of workout will help you to endure long rides on your bike, especially having your quads and glutes strengthened.
This fantastic exercise helps to strengthen the traps, lats, and the rhomboids. How will this help when it comes to bike riding? Well, keep in mind that the kneeling pulldowns will strengthen muscles which will help prevent fatigue in your neck, shoulders, and the back along the ride. To successfully perform this exercise, you must first position yourself on your knees in front of an adjustable cable machine with a lat pulldown bar placed at the high setting. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width, overhand grip, your arms fully extended. Then, without moving your torso, pull the bar down until it encounters your chest. Pause, then slowly return to the starting position.
TRX Exercise Ball Hamstring Curl
This type of exercise will help to work your lower back and your hamstrings, which is highly needed as a cyclist. Keep in mind that your hamstrings will work with your hips while pedaling. What a lot of female cyclists do not take into consideration is the fact that proper quadriceps and hamstring strength ratios are quite vital in avoiding lower extremity injuries, as well refining the upstroke during the pedaling motion.
To correctly perform one of these curls, you must first find an exercise ball often used in Pilates. It doesn’t matter which size you use. Choose one that you’re comfortable with, but you will get a more significant contraction with a more massive ball. Those are the oversized, light, rubber balls. With your back on the floor, roll the ball up under your feet. You want your feet to be in the top center of the ball. Put your full weight between your feet (on the ball) and your shoulder blades.
Use your arms to stabilize yourself. This will be your starting position. Bend your knees, pulling the ball as close as you can to your bottom. This will contract the hamstring. Hold for a brief pause and then push the ball back out to your starting position. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.