Building strength and tone to help you cycle better

Nik Hart's picture

Building strength and tone to help you cycle better

As part of the Women's Festival of Cycling, we hosted a live workout on our social media channels led by personal trainer Iona Bruce. If you want to catch up or do the workout again, here's your chance

If you could speed up your progression while improving your confidence, co-ordination, agility, strength, power, speed, balance and flexibility all at the same time, helping crash-proof your body – why would you not?

This workout is built around compound and plyometric movements which simulate cycling and encourage individual muscles to work together and translate into what you need to ride your bike with confidence, strength and power.

The workout is split into two sections. The first is a pyramid of strength exercises, designed in a format to also work on your cardiovascular strength. The second section is focused on core exercises.

Give it a try and start building your strength…

Part 1: Strength and cardio

Perform 30 seconds of each exercise, then rest for 30 seconds. Work your way up one side of the pyramid, then back down the other! 

Exercises Time Repeat
1) Press-ups 30 seconds for each exercise Exercise 1, rest
2) Glute bridge raises Followed by 30 seconds rest Exercise 1, 2, rest
3) Plank walk-outs   Exercise 1, 2, 3, rest
4) Side lunges   Exercise 1, 2, 3, 4, rest
5) Squat jumps   Exercise 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, rest
    Exercise 2, 3, 4, 5, rest
    Exercise 3, 4, 5, rest
    Exercise 4, 5, rest
    Exercise 5, rest

Part 2: Core

This section section follows the same format as the first.

Exercises Time Repeat
1) Bicycle crunches 30 seconds for each exercise Exercise 1, rest
2) Oblique crunches (R) Followed by 30 seconds rest Exercise 1, 2, rest
3) Oblique crunches (L)   Exercise 1, 2, 3, rest
4) Plank sliders   Exercise 1, 2, 3, 4, rest
    Exercise 2, 3, 4, rest
    Exercise 3, 4, rest
    Exercise 4, rest

What are the benefits? Exercise breakdown

Iona explains in the video why these exercises are so beneficial to cyclists. But in her own words: "It's all very well doing a workout, working hard and getting a sweat on but we want to teach you why you're doing these exercises and the reasoning behind what we're teaching you." She explains why she has included each of these exercises in her workout. 

Press-ups

Either from your knees or your feet. Arguably one of the most important skills to work on for biking – among other things, this allows you to get down low over your bars and lets you stay in control of your bike. This means you can stay loose and navigate technical trails, jumps and drops.

Main muscles focused on: shoulders, triceps, chest and core.

Glute bridge

Important for glute activation, strengthening and all the good things that go with it! Really important when pedalling, climbing, descending and crash-resisting! Plus, having strong glutes helps to take the pressure away from your knees and lower back.

Main muscles focused on: glutes.

Plank walk-outs

Here we're working on shoulder and core strength and stability, focusing on getting the muscles to activate and working together as they should do. Want to make them harder? Keep your legs straight as you perform the exercise. 

Main muscles focused on: shoulders, triceps, chest and core.

Side lunges

A great leg exercise, so important for cyclists. Focus on rebounding for "pumping" and "snapping" and working on the side of our glutes/legs. Most people have one side fo their body which is stronger than the other so it's important to work side to side and use these muscles to address any imbalances, which could lead to injury if ignored. Remember, we use these muscles to corner, which is another reason to do plenty of side lunges!

Main muscles focused on: glutes and quads.

Squats/squat jumps 

Squatting – what we do on the bike all the time as we're bending our knees to stay over the centre of the bike. Building strength through squats will make climbing easier and ensure you can ride for longer. For the off-road riders, we need the rebound to be able to "pump" over hills and in corners and to "snap" into jumps and skills. If you want to make the exercise harder, add in the jump to make us more explosive and powerful.

Main muscles focused on: quads, hamstrings, and glutes. 

Core exercises

The core is so important when building up strength for cycling and should be a focus throughout your training. However, do be aware that you must focus on all of the muscles in your "core" as it's much more than just your "six-pack" muscles. These exercises will do just that.

Exercises in this workout (all dynamic to replicate the movement on our bike):

  • Bicycle crunches (oblique muscles, abdominal muscles and hips)
  • Oblique crunches (R) (oblique muscles)
  • Oblique crunches (L) (oblique muscles))
  • Cross single leg tuck ups (abdominal muscles and hips)

Watch the workout again

Iona Bruce: Off Bike Fitness

Iona Bruce is a sports-specific strength and conditioning coach, personal trainer, gin lover and baker of world-class brownies. She has been coaching for more than 12 years and works with mountain bikers of all levels and disciplines. Ranging from recreational level to world-renowned athletes and even a Guinness world record holder, she focuses on improving riders' fitness, strength, power and endurance off the bike – so they can be great on the bike!

Owning her own health and fitness company and holding a PGDip in sport performance coaching, a masters degree and first-class honours degree, Iona also runs qualifications teaching others to become gym instructors and personal trainers. 

Since retiring, Iona has jumped fully into the mountain-biking world, combining her two passions of biking and fitness to help riders achieve their riding goals and be the boss of their bike, body and mind. 

You can follow Iona on her on Instagram, check out her Facebook group, or book one of her online classes. If you want to get in touch to find out more about her cycling specific fitness and nutrition plans you can contact her through this form.

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