With New Year’s resolutions in full swing, people have been back in the gym tackling their fitness goals. If you’re out of practice or simply looking for a way to spice up your fitness routine, consider exploring a blend of cycling and lifting. A combination of the two yields balance and results, as well as adding variety to your workouts.
Cycling is a great way to increase cardiovascular fitness and lose weight with low impact to the joints. Cycling also improves muscular endurance through continually exerting force over an extended period of time. This rhythmic repetition not only improves endurance, but releases endorphins that lower stress levels. An indoor cycling class can be particularly good for stress relief, creating an environment that drives performance while allowing you to turn off your mind and enjoy the ride.
Lifting is a perfect complement to cycling and can bring a well-rounded balance to your overall fitness. Here are a few high-value exercises to round out your workouts that will prove perfect companions for cycling:
The Why: Strengthens your quads through a full range of motion to make you stronger on hills while encouraging upper back extension to counteract the flex position that you are in on the bike.
The How: Start with the barbell across the front of your shoulders, fingers under the bar and keeping elbows up. Keeping your chest up and core braced, drop down into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
How Often? 2 to 4 sets of 5 to 8 reps, one to two times per week before cycling.
The Why: Stronger hamstrings and glutes help to balance out the work done on the bike and keep your knees pain free.
The How: From a standing position push your butt back while keeping your chest up and legs mostly straight until your hands are at about mid-shin, then squeeze your glutes to return to the starting position. Barbells, kettlebells, or dumbbells are all great options to load this exercise.
How Often? 2 to 4 sets of 5 to 10 reps, one to two times per week before cycling.
The Why: To strengthen the upper back and help get you out of the rounded over, internally rotated position that is common among cyclists.
The How: Using a cable machine with a rope attachment or bands, start in a standing position with arms forward. Drive your elbows back so that your arms end up in a field goal signal position and repeat. You should feel this mostly in your upper back and on the backside of your shoulders.
How Often? 2 to 4 set of 8 to 20 reps, one to three times per week.
The Why: To loosen up your hip flexors, which are commonly tight in cyclists.
The How: Prop the shin of the leg that you are stretching up against the couch, knee on the ground, toe pointed towards the ceiling. Opposite leg should be forward in a lunge position, squeezing your glutes to stabilize the lower back. Hang out in this position for at least a minute, increasing the stretch as tolerated.
How Often? One to three minutes per side, two to six days per week after exercise.
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by Ryan Jore, Trainer, Granite Health & Fitness