An Interval Workout for Cyclists That Is Not on the Bike
Whether you’re in quarantine or you don’t have access to a gym, building and maintaining strength for biking can be done at home with little to no equipment. We had Origin Team Member, Jessica, Personal Trainer and Cyclist, create a home workout you can do in under an hour with little to no equipment.
While road cycling uses mostly legs, you still need a strong upper body and core for stabilization. Mountain biking tends to use all muscles by having to maneuver around obstacles on the trail so it’s imperative to have a strong upper body and core as well as strong legs.
For cyclists, repeated movements (like pedaling) can cause overly tight muscles and lead to more pain. Take this opportunity at home to work on mobility, durability, and strength so when you can get back on trails, you’ll be able to ride longer.
Why we included these exercises for cyclists at home
This home workout for cyclists takes into account the major muscles used during cycling and which tend to be neglected. For example, an excellent exercise for cyclists at home is a side lung. We included this because cyclists and mountain bikers only perform forward movements. Lateral movements, like a side lunge, work your gluteus minimus and gluteus medius that aren’t used as much as the gluteus maximus during the pedal stroke.
There are a variety of exercises with twists included and that’s due to the body not going through the transverse plane of motion on a bike. Incorporating different ranges of motions reduces your risk of injury and you are more likely to achieve your biking goal. Also, having a strong core keeps you stable on the bike. In other words, having a strong core prevents you from rotating too much during pedal strokes which can cause fatigue.
Additionally, there are several upper body workouts we’ve included for bikers to stay stable up and upright on the bike. Your upper body holds you up while you’re cycling or navigating the terrain. When they’re strong, they won’t fatigue as fast.
Finally, there are a few mobility and stretching exercises included because these are by far the most neglected in cyclists. Mobility is your range of motion at each joint. If your mobility is hindered your performance on the mountain or road bike will be limited. If you have tight muscles, they can pull on other muscles or bones which can cause pain as well as limited movement.
How to use this home workout
Take 5:00 to warm-up before performing the main cycling workout.
In the main workout, you’ll perform each move for one minute before moving on to the next exercise. Feel free to rest if needed during the 1:00 interval. To make this workout easier, rest between each movement. To make it strenuous, do not rest.
There are twelve exercises divided into four lower body, four upper body, and four core movements totalling twelve minutes. If you’re a beginner, stick to one or two rounds (12-24 minutes). If you’re more advanced, try three to four rounds (36-48 minutes).
As a cool down, we’ve included six stretches that focus on muscles that tend to be tight on cyclists. Take 5-10 breaths per stretch. This workout should take less than an hour to complete.
- Pull-up bar or broomstick and two sturdy chairs
- Dumbbells or soup cans/water bottles/dumbbell alternative
- Foam Roller
Forward Leg Swing (10 for each leg):
Stand next to a wall or sturdy object. Swing your leg forward and backward like a pendulum making sure to stand tall and engage your core. You can watch a video here.
Walls Angels (10-15 reps):
Stand with your back against the wall. Raise your arms so your elbows are level with your shoulders and bent at 90° and your pinky fingers are touching the wall. Press your arms toward the ceiling, maintaining contact with the wall. When you’ve reached as far as comfortable, bend your arms until they reach your rib cage. Contract your back muscles and return to the starting position. For a demonstration, click here.
Arm circles (20 in both directions):
Extend arms at shoulder height and begin to trace an imaginary circle with your hands. Start with smaller circles moving forward and gradually create bigger circles. Then do the same in the reverse direction. Demonstration here.
T-spine rotation (10 for each arm)
Lay on the floor on your right side with your knees stacked and bent at 90°. Reach your arms out to the right and rest the right arm on the floor. Take your left arm and rotate to the left until your hand touches the floor. Return to the starting position. After 10 repetitions, switch sides. Here’s a video.
The Workout (1:00 each exercise)
Star on your hands and knees with knees under your hips and hands under your shoulders. Reach the opposite arm and leg straight out and hold for 2 seconds. Then switch arm/leg. To make this harder, come off of your knees and hold a plank position instead. Here’s a demonstration of this move.
Stand with feet hip-distance apart and step directly to the left with your left foot so you’re in a wide-legged stance. Shift your hips back as if you were sitting into a chair and bend the left knee for a squat, keeping the right leg straight. Make sure to keep your knee in line with your toes pointing forward. Press back up with your left foot and return to the starting position. Repeat on the right side. For an example, click here.
Pull-up (with bar or set a broom on top of two sturdy chairs)
Grab the bar above you, palms facing away, and thumbs wrapped underneath the bar. Engage your car, squeeze the bar with your hands, and pull yourself up trying to bring your elbows down to your waist. As soon as your chin passes the bar start to descend back to the starting position. Here’s a checklist for a proper pull-up.
If you’re unable to do pull-ups or do not have a pull-up bar, there’s an alternative: a (strong) broomstick on top of two sturdy chairs. To set this up, get two objects that are the same height. Set them far enough apart so your hands rest against the edge as you do your inverted row. Llay your broomstick across the top and make sure the broomstick won’t slide around. For this and other pull-up alternatives at home, check out this video.
Side Plank Rotation
Lay on one side with your feet stacked on top of each other and your elbow underneath your shoulder. Raise your hips off the floor so your body is in one straight line. Lift your top arm straight up and lower it toward the front. Drop it between the supporting arm and your side for the twist. Return to start. Do :30 seconds each side. Here’s a demonstration.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift left leg up and back, keeping your hips level with the floor and brace your core. Reach your hands forward. Use your right leg to return to starting position. Alternate legs for the full rep. To make this harder, you can hold a weight (or heavy object) in one or both hands. For a demonstration, click here.
Push-Up to Renegade Row
Start in a plank position with hands underneath your shoulders and legs extended resting on toes. If you have sturdy weights, start with your hands on top of them. Conduct a push-up and then immediately lift the left weight (or another weighted object) keeping your elbow pointed toward the ceiling and return to starting position. Repeat on the right side. Continue for 1:00. Watch a video here.
Lay on your back and bend knees to your heels are as close to your glutes as possible. Push your hips off the ground as high as you can and squeeze glutes at the top. Make sure your back is flat when you raise off the ground. To make this harder, you can raise one foot off the ground and straighten your leg. Here’s a video demonstrating this move.
Walking Lunge with a Twist
This is a great complementary exercise to cycling since it works the same muscles used during the pedal stroke while also strengthening your core. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and take a big step forward with your right foot. Bend your right knee and sink your hips toward the ground. Keep your chest lifted, extend your arms forward, and twist to the right. Twist your arms back to the forward position and bring your left foot to meet your right. Repeat this on the left side. If you lack space to walk you can do this in place. Simply push the front foot back to meet the back foot. Click here to watch an example.
Sit at the edge of a seat and roll your shoulders back and down. Bring your hands to the edge of the seat and step your feet forward. Beginners can bend their knees and those who are more advanced can straighten their legs. Bend your elbows and lower your hips toward the floor. Make sure you don’t sink into your shoulders. To avoid this, keep your neck long and depress your shoulder blades down. Push into the palms of your hands to straighten your arms. To see a demonstration, click here.
Planks with Shoulder Taps
Get in a plank position with hands directly under shoulders and legs extended straight out behind you hip-width apart. Touch the right shoulder with your left hand and return the left hand back to starting plank position. Then repeat with the right hand touching the left shoulder. Click here to see a video.
Stand on one leg with toes pointing forward. Raise the non-supporting foot off the floor. Lower to a squat position, keeping the knee on supporting leg in line with toes. Switch to the other leg. To make this harder, squat deeper but maintaining proper form. Here’s a tutorial on regressing and progressing the single-leg squat.
Stand with feet hip-width apart and hands gripping weights (or weighted object) at shoulder level with arms bent at 90°. Press dumbbells overhead (should be able to see elbows out of the corners of your eyes) and return to starting position. Check out this video to learn how to do the move.
Complete 1-3 rounds total depending on experience (12-36 minutes)
Stretching and Mobility (hold for 5-10 breaths):
Find a doorway and put arms at both sides of the door, keeping elbows at shoulder-level. Step forward with one foot and lean forward. You can also use the corner of a room and do the same stretch. Here’s a video that demonstrates this stretch.
Hip Stretch/Pigeon Pose
Start in a tabletop position with hands directly beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips. Bring your left knee toward your left hand and bring your left ankle toward your right hand. Slide your right leg back to bring your hips to the floor. Keep your hips squared and facing forward. If your hips aren’t open, your heel will be closer to your body. For a tutorial, watch this video.
Wall Quad Stretch
Start in a tabletop position and bring your left knee against the wall and point your toe toward the ceiling. Bring the right leg around to a lunge position. Then lift up your chest and drive the hip back to stretch the left quad. If you can’t fully lift your torso, bring your left knee away from the wall until you can raise your chest up. For an example, click here.
Thoracic Spine Foam Roll:
Lay on a foam roller perpendicular to the middle of your back. Lift your hips and roll up to foam roll your middle and upper back. Here’s a video.
Glute Muscle Release with Lacrosse Ball
Place a lacrosse ball on the ground and sit on it at an angle. Take your right leg and cross it over your left knee, and make a small circular motion. Hold on any tight spots until you feel your muscle relax. Repeat on the other side. For a demonstration, click here.
We strongly recommend that you consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. You should be in good physical condition and be able to participate in the exercise.