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Essential Strength Exercises for Cyclists

Cycling is an endurance sport and many people shy away from strength training in exchange for more time in the saddle. However, there is endless research to support that an extra hour or two in the saddle may not be as good use of your time as two or three, 30-45 minute gym sessions per week.

During the pedal stroke the main power production comes from the gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. With most power produced in the down phase of the stroke. Strength work should therefore be focused on increasing the maximum strength and power capacity of these muscles.

Here are three of the essential exercises for all cyclist to get you stronger, to be more efficient and faster on the bike.

Single leg squat

This is a great exercise for activating leg muscles in a similar way to the cycling stroke. All the key cycling muscles are activated with this exercise. You should focus on keeping a straight alignment of your foot, knee and hip and keep your weight back on your heel so your knee remains behind your toes. This posture is to ensure a high activation of the gluteal muscles with this exercise.

With the squat movement if your weight shifts forwards onto the ball of your feet or your toes you will get greater activation in your quads and a lot of force going through your knee. If you have a good bike fit you will see that your knee stays behind your toes when you a powering your pedal down. On the bike, due to the highly repetitive nature of cycling, if your knee is too far forward, this increased pressure on the knee can increase your risk of knee pain and injury.

Single leg straight leg dead lift

Another great exercise which targets all of the relevant muscles for cycling, especially the hamstrings and the gluteal muscles. Unlike the squat movement this exercise lengthens the hamstrings which are commonly tight in cyclists and can therefore be just as effective at encouraging lengthening of the hamstring muscles as strengthening.

Key focus should be on keeping a straight alignment between foot, knee and hip. Also to keep a small bend in the knee to prevent straining the structures at the back of the knee.

Heel raises

The humble heel raise is a under utilised exercise. The foot pedal interface is through the ball of our foot, therefore we are always using the calf, at very least to stabilise the foot to prevent the heel dropping. Heel raises done with a bent and straight knee are effective to strengthen both the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles which form the calf complex.

For a more efficient and powerful pedal stroke the calf muscle will activate for the downstroke, logically. But it also works powerfully at the bottom of the pedal stoke and helps to prevent the ‘dead zone’, typically seen at the end of the push before the opposite leg takes over.

Plank row

Don’t forget your core! Without a strong core your strong and powerful legs will be unable to show their potential as the power will be lost trying to stay upright and still on top of the bike.

A plank row puts you in a similar position as on the bike in terms of your upper body. You can therefore strengthen your chest while alternating a lift of a dumbbell with each arm. This action engages your core in a similar diagonal pattern as on the bike when you powerfully push down on the pedal with one leg.

 

For more advice get in touch with the Flawless Physio team here.

Feel good. Move well. Be better!

 

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Very knowledgeable physio Team! Was in London on a business meeting and ended up visiting James for some urgent treatment on my lower back. Delighted with the service. James put me at ease straight away. His treatment was paramount in getting me through what was a hectic weekend. Could not recommend enough. Will definitely be back when in London again!
Funky Inflatable Co.
Funky Inflatable Co.
17:29 11 Sep 18
Went to "Flawless Physio" two weeks ago for back pain that I'd been carrying for months. Three sessions later, it's all gone! The staff was very pleasant, professional and gave me a series of simple exercises to do at home. I definitely recommend them. I'll be back, hopefully not too soon ;)
Charles Muzard
Charles Muzard
13:04 24 Sep 18
I was recommended to see James by my consultant following surgery to my ankle. He was extremely professional and knowledgable. He motivated me throughout the process and I have now returned to long distance running thanks to his help. I would recommend his services to anyone
David Burns
David Burns
19:32 08 Sep 18
Awesome team. I ended up having to seek out treatment when my back went into spasm (on going problem) whilst down visiting friends. I saw James and he was very professional and through with his treatment. More importantly he gave me a better understanding about what was going on and how to manage my injury in the future. Highly recommended!
James Tatham
James Tatham
08:03 20 Sep 18
I received treatment from Vicky for a very stiff and painful neck, possibly brought on by tension. I felt confident that my therapist was knowledgeable. The service was very friendly and professional and I felt good progress from the first session already. Vicky recommended some exercises and explained how to do them with very clear diagrams and instructions. I would highly recommend Vicky
Tiziana Guffanti
Tiziana Guffanti
17:23 29 Aug 18
I would highly recommend Flawless Physio. Excellent knowledge/treatment and also brilliant customer care - following up and giving advice. Tailored rehab to suit the type and level of sport as well as lifestyle. My wife & I have been treated by both James & Victoria and they have both been great. Will continue to use for any future injury & rehab.
Joe Gomes
Joe Gomes
19:11 30 Mar 19
I saw Victoria for my dodgy shoulder, and she was brilliant. Very professional And knowledgeable, she really took time to explain what was going on and to treat it. She followed up with me to check I was getting on well with the exercises. She is also really accommodating with timings for appointments. I couldn't recommend more highly, thank you Victoria!
Fiona Hall
Fiona Hall
08:35 27 Mar 19
First class. Had 4 or 5 appointments with Victoria that were always late in the evening, although you wouldn't know it. She took her time, whether that be on soft tissue work, explaining how to do an exercise, or the purpose behind it. A genuine person that wants to help and she clearly knows her stuff.
Jamie Moles
Jamie Moles
21:14 20 Jan 19
Went to flawless physio and vic was great! Training for a marathon and she was very understanding and helpful. Living in the Twickenham area so was in great location! Her specialist knowledge in knee injuries was able to get me back running in two weeks 🏃🏼‍♀️
Ruth Herlihy
Ruth Herlihy
23:44 25 Jan 19
I injured my leg (ITB) training for the Berlin Marathon and then made it far worse it by trying to run it. Victoria has been essential in my recovery, helping me understand how to strengthen the right muscle groups and get back to running. I have been very impressed by the depth of knowledge and insight. This weekend I will run the Cancer Research 10km. Thank you!
Paul Carpenter
Paul Carpenter
17:02 28 Jan 19
Really impressed with the service provided at Flawless Physio. Vicky was knowledgeable, professional and her invaluable treatment and advice got me to the start of this year’s marathon when I’d had to stop running with 8weeks to go. Without the advice and care I received at Flawless Physio, at best I’d have limped my way round the course and at worst, not been able to take part at all. Definitely recommend!
Katy Gomes
Katy Gomes
11:03 30 May 19
James helped resolve a hamstring injury that had troubled me for the best part of a year. I'll certainly use Flawless Physio for any future issues. Highly recommended.
Sandeep C
Sandeep C
18:02 30 Apr 19