Editor’s Note: Coach Dan Kehlenbach, a long-time coach of cyclists and other endurance athletes, and a certified strength and conditioning specialist, has graciously agreed to put together a monthly series of workouts for RBR readers. This month’s workout features the same preparation exercises (Phases 1 & 2) before moving into the new Circuit workouts.
Building on last month’s workout, here are a few progressions. You’ll notice that the movements for Phases 1 and 2 are exactly the same. I encourage you to use the foam roll on a regular basis to help with recovery, and to do the movement preparation exercises throughout the week apart from your normal workout to work on your mobility, something that nearly all cyclists can benefit from.
Phase 1 – Foam Roll
Using a foam roller can help improve the overall quality of your muscle tissue and to prepare it for the demands of the workout. There’s no one consensus on what’s the best protocol, but many cyclists can benefit by addressing quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, calves and upper (thoracic spine area) back. Start with 8-10 fluid strokes for each muscle group.
Phase 2 – Movement Preparation
Here is where we start taking your muscles through a specific range of motion to work on your mobility and muscle activation. It will also help get your body get ready for the workout. Aim for 5-6 repetitions of each movement.
Lie on your back as shown with one leg bent and the other leg at your chest. With your toes up, concentrate on activating your glute by pushing through your heel and lifting your hips up.
From a push-up position, walk your feet towards your hands using small steps keeping your knees slightly flexed. When you can no longer maintain that slight knee flexion, pause for a 2-count then walk your hands out with small steps back to the starting position.
With your feet shoulder-width apart, reach down and grab your toes. If you can’t grab your toes, go as low as you feel comfortable with. Drop your hips into a sumo-style position, keeping your elbows inside your knees. Pause for a 2-count at the bottom, raise your hands over your head as best as you can, and stand back up.
Shoulder Wall Slide
Place your feet about one foot in front of a wall. Lean back and make sure your hips, upper back and head are in contact with the wall. Reach up as high as you can and slide your arms down the wall. As you slide your arms down, make sure your elbows and hands (along with your hips, upper back and head) stay in contact with the wall.
Stand with your feet approximately double shoulder-width apart. Shift your weight to one side and drop your hips down and back, keeping your knee over your toes and your weight over your bent leg. Pause for a 2-count, return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
From a push up position, bring one foot to the outside of your hand. Lift up your hand and drop your elbow towards your instep. Pause for a 2-count and return your hand and foot. Repeat on the other side.
CIRCUIT 1 – Static core exercise, dynamic core exercise, elastic (power-type) exercise
These exercises are performed in a circuit style fashion. After your cable holds, go right into the SB “Stir-the-Pot” then into the square drill. Start with 2 rounds and work your way up to 3 rounds.
Lateral Cable Hold
This is an excellent anti-rotation exercise. Stand to the side of a cable column holding a handle with your feet shoulder width apart as shown. Start by keeping the handle close to your body and maintain an upright posture. As you become stronger, you can gradually move the handle away from you and/or narrow your foot placement. Make sure to keep a slight bend in your hips and knees – it will help to do this exercise near a mirror so you can monitor your form. Work up to 30-second holds on each side.
SB “Stir the Pot”
This exercise made popular by Dr. Stuart McGill is a fantastic exercise to develop your core stability. Position yourself in a plank position, as shown, with your elbows on a stability ball and feet spread wide. Keeping your core braced and glutes tight, move your forearms in a small circle, keeping your body steady. To make this exercise more challenging, you can narrow your foot placement or make bigger circles. However, since this exercise challenges even the strongest of athletes, make sure you pay very close attention to your form when increasing the difficulty of this exercise. Aim for 8-12 circles in each direction.
With cones or water bottles, mark out a square (about 3-5 yards between cones). Starting at one corner, sprint to the cone in front of you, shuffle to the next cone, backpedal to the third cone and then shuffle back to the starting cone. Rest 1 minute and repeat 2-3 times.
CIRCUIT 2 – Upper body and lower body strength exercises
Like circuit 1, perform these exercises in a circuit-style fashion. Start with 2 rounds and work your way up to 3 rounds.
Standing Cable Press
Stand facing away from a cable column as shown with your feet shoulder width apart and your hips slightly bent. Press the handle straight out in front of you. Return to the starting position (don’t be afraid to limit your range-of-motion if you have any shoulder concerns). Aim for 8-12 repetitions each side.
SB Leg Curl
This is a great exercise for your glutes and hamstrings. Lie on the floor as shown with your feet on top of a stability ball and your hips up with your glutes engaged. Curl the ball inwards, brining your heels towards your butt. Make sure you keep your hips up and glutes engaged throughout the entire set. Aim for 8-12 repetitions.
Standing Cable Row
Stand in front of a cable column with your feet about shoulder width apart and hips slightly bent. Grab a handle and perform a standing row while keeping your body as still as possible. Avoid the temptation of leaning forward and back to lift more weight.
Aim for 8-12 repetitions.
Lunges can be very helpful to develop eccentric strength. When you lunge forward, the muscles of your hips, trunk and thigh have to decelerate and stop the motion of your body before pushing back to the starting position. This motion is referred to as an eccentric action, in which your muscles are lengthening while developing tension. Cycling has virtually no eccentric action, so the inclusion of this type of exercise can drastically improve your overall lower body strength. Hold a pair of dumbbells (or you can start with just your body weight) as shown and take a long step forward into a lunge, keeping your knee behind your toes and avoid having your knee collapse to the inside. Push back to the starting position and repeat with your other leg. Work up to 8-10 repetitions per leg.
Note: Many people find this exercise uncomfortable on the knees. If this happens to you, perform the split squat instead – there is far less shear force on the knees.
See my 5-part Dynamic Conditioning Monthly Series that includes exercise progressions/variations, workout logs, and complimentary consultations via phone, email, FaceTime or Skype.
Coach Dan Kehlenbach has been coaching cyclists and other endurance athletes since 1995 and is a certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and TRX Force instructor. He is the author, with Coach John Hughes, of Distance Cycling: Your complete guide to long-distance rides, published by Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL. In addition, he has written numerous eArticles available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Dan Kehlenbach, including his bestselling Dynamic Flexibility Training for Cyclists. Click to read Dan’s full bio (which contains his direct email address should you wish to contact him).