Question: How come the backs of my upper arms are sore for several days after a long bike ride? — Timothy W.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Your triceps muscles get sore because they are not used to supporting your body weight on the handlebar for long periods.
To eliminate this nuisance, first check your riding position. An overly long reach to the handlebar tends to stress and fatigue the triceps. (A reach that’s too short, on the other hand, would cause soreness in the trapezius muscle between your shoulder and neck.)
Then add some specific triceps conditioning to your resistance training routine. A good exercise that requires no equipment is pushups done with your hands the same distance apart as when you hold the handlebar.
Triceps extensions are great for isolating these muscles. Extensions can be done on the lat machine at a gym, or at home with a barbell or dumbbell.
Using a barbell, hold a light weight overhead with your upper arms against your ears, bend your elbows to lower the weight behind your head, then straighten your arms. (If using a dumbbell, do the same thing with one arm at a time.) Do 15 to 25 repetitions.
During rides, change hand position frequently to distribute the strain. Switch from the tops to the brake levers to the hooks and drops — and back again.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred's full bio.