Stretching, strengthening as well as cycling

Cyclists (along with runners) have a tendency to exercise only performing their particular sport. By this I mean that they often don’t include other exercise forms into their programme to work on particular parameters of fitness.

Often neglected are flexibility/range of movement (supplety) and strength/power.
Stretching is often left out as it is seen as boring or it may be that stretching is hard for some people (which is precisely why they should do it). However to have normal length tissues is very important for adequate force transmission through the limbs and for alignment of various structures, most importantly for cycling the patella.
The areas to stretch particularly are the iliotibial band (ITB) and the hip flexors (iliacus and rectus femoris). These should be stretched at least after each training session. Stretches to maintain or change length should be held statically for 30-40 seconds.See Fig 1 for the ITB stretch and Fig 2 for the hip flexors stretch.

Strengthening is often left out as people say, ‘Surely cycling keeps me strong?’Certainly a certain amount of strength will be developed and maintained by cycling. However certain muscles will benefit more than others. And as the bike is used to generate a mechanical advantage, cycling can generate less strength than supposed. The Olympic cyclers didn’t get their bulging legs and buttocks from just cycling; there was a lot of gym work that developed them.
Two main areas to strengthen are the hamstrings and the gluteus maximus. For serious cyclers two sessions a week of strength training is recommended. To generate strength, low numbers of repetitions are recommended (6-8) over 4 to 5 sets. See Fig 3 for the hamstrings strengthening and Fig 4 for the gluteus maximus strengthening.

This is just a starting point regarding stretching and strengthening but should go a long way to keeping you strong, long, pedalling hard and injury free.
For more information on how we can help you, please call us on 02074805976.
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