Many of our personal training clients are avid cyclists. When developing their customized programs in the spring, we like to address weaknesses that can be limiters in the summer and fall (so they don’t become bigger issues!). Now is the time to lay important groundwork for the season to come.
Performance improvement and injury prevention combine to form the pillars of an early season strength program, and here are some tips on how to address both.
1) Performance improvement
Strength training helps to improve overall performance on the bike through loaded patterns that mimic the range of motion when you ride. Sets can focus on endurance (lighter weight / higher reps), strength (higher weight / lower reps) or power (more explosive movements / plyometrics ). The most beneficial movements revolve around squats, step-ups, lunges and deadlifts.
Cycling demands strong hip and knee extension so foundational leg workouts transfer great to improved strength on the bike. We often incorporate high box step-ups to get hips firing at “12 o’clock” in the stroke rather than using a smaller box and firing lower in the pedal stroke. In general big leg and hip moves (squats, lunges, deadlifts) work great.
Most cyclists have a dominant leg and struggle to balance power and strength between both legs. Incorporating single leg squats and deadlifts as well as adding lunges can really help create more balanced strength.
2) Injury prevention
The most important part of strength and conditioning work is injury prevention. These are the moves that don’t always seem like they relate directly to cycling, and you may look awkward when performing them, but they achieve results.
Cyclists tend to lack good lateral stability, are tight along the anterior chain (front side of body), are weak along the posterior chain (back side of body), and are poor extenders in the thoracic spine from being over the handlebars all the time. All are easy(ish) to correct and should get a lot of attention when you’re spending less time on the bike in the winter and spring.
Hip stabilizers keep the knee tracking properly. This reduces risk of overuse injury and helps to maintain efficient pedal strokes. Band exercises are great to work on stabilizers. Monster walks and clams are classic exercises and can be done with very little space and equipment.
Bands are also great for building back strength with exercises the facilitate mobility in the thoracic spine (mid back) and strengthen the upper back and shoulders. Shoulder separators, posterior flies and one-arm rows with bands or cables all help to address postural issues that creep up to cyclists over time.
Traditional bodyweight exercises like low planks on your elbows, high planks on straight arms and side planks help to address many of the elements we’ve mentioned with zero equipment, minimal space and a pretty low time investment.
These exercises will build core strength, which is so important for a healthier ride.
Taping two lacrosse-style balls together and working on mini-crunches with the balls placed at various points along the thoracic spine may be the single best activity you make all day. This movement promotes extension in the thoracic spine and can help tremendously to counter the negative effects of riding positions on the back and shoulders.
Cyclist specific stretches and foam rolling
Hips flexor stretches and foam rolling work go a long way towards countering all the flexion cyclists do at the hips. These stretches and foam roll techniques are easy to implement daily, especially after long periods in the saddle.
Hip flexors are often ignored because they are not the big “action” muscle groups, but they play a huge role in longevity, comfort and performance!
3 Therapeutic Exercise Made Simple
A regular routine of dedicated strength training may just take your riding to a whole new level!
To make this all very simple, we’ve put together a guide with a series of key exercise, stretching and foam rolling techniques. You only need to perform these exercises one or two times per week for 20 minutes or less. In that short period of time, you can achieve most of the suggestions from this article.
One session with our personal trainers can help dial in all the flexibility and mobility movements and get you well set up for success.
View the Guide >
Hyatt Training is a Portland personal training gym that offers one-on-one personal training and coaching programs for busy people like you. We blend art and science to create programs that are applicable to life and sport. We bring together strength and conditioning, cardiovascular health, yoga and nutrition to deliver a comprehensive lifetime health and wellness strategies.
Perhaps summer is already on your mind, and maybe biking, too.
Here are some things to be thinking about as you plan out your summer of riding in Oregon.
GET SUMMER BIKE READY!
- How are you feeling on your bike? A bike fit, which can run you around $200, is a very wise investment if you’re not feeling quite right on your bike. Aches, pains, strains – these can all be alleviated with a professional bike fit. The fitter will spend a few hours with you – thoroughly analyzing your exact body and making detailed recommendations.
- How’s the bike riding? Head in to your local bike shop well before planning a big ride. You want plenty of time to get the word done well and test out your ride.
- What are you going to do this summer? If you’ve never participated in a supported distance ride, like Reach the Beach (one way, one day), Portland Century (one day loop) or Century Ride of the Centuries (multi-day) this should be your summer to do it. Supported rides offer an opportunity to hang with your friends, relax in the saddle, explore a gorgeous region and sometimes support a cause without having to worry about a thing. Think of it as a mini-vacation; the organizers take care of all the pesky details for you.
- Stretch those legs. Nothing serious, but ensure you’re getting out to remind your legs what it is to go the distance – before you’re out on that first long ride.
- How are your accessories? Look for sales (Bike Gallery is having one right now) and ensure your lights, lock, rack, carrying device and other accessories are in good working order so you can simply enjoy the ride this summer.
- Plan a fun day of riding. Maybe shopping all around town, a bar crawl, a visit to a friend across town, dinner far away, or just a cruise to Sauvie Island with friends. Get out there for a full day bike adventure that’s lighthearted and will help you fall in love with your town (and your bike) all over again.
- Psych your posse. Ensure you’ve got your riding buddies ready for the summer. Next time you’re having beers, bring up the topic of summer riding. You might find that one of your friends needs some assistance getting a bike, repairing a bike, finding appropriate routes or just being motivated to ride. Start that conversation now so you’ll have a posse by summer.
- Join a club. If your friends are riding enough to satisfy your craving for two wheels, consider joining a club. Clubs are a fantastic way to have an instant crew of people to ride with every single week (sometimes every day) – just add bike.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO? HOW ARE YOU PREPARING?
What are you doing to get ready for summer, and what are your big (or small!) riding plans? Share your stories below in the comments.
COAST HILLS CLASSIC | May 7 – Newport
It’s muddy, soupy and sloppy – just the way you like it.
The Coast Hills Classic mt. bike race is a spring tradition. With a lush wooded course and surprising sweeping ocean views, this race is the perfect way to kick off the season.
It might be raining, but in true Oregon fashion there is always a sea of broad smiles at the lively finish line festival for this beloved race.
MORE INFO >
Life gets busy. Work is hectic. The calendar is full. But you know that life is best when you’re on your bike. That’s why you need WEEKENDER – two days that will make your whole summer July 7-9.
If only there were more weekends in the calendar… oh those joyous days on on bikes…. That’s how those of us in the Bike Tribe think. Whether you like it or not (come on, we know you love it!), you’re in the club. And what an awesome club it is. Imagine yourself surrounded by these likeminded souls for an entire weekend – it’s going to be amazing.
WEEKENDER is an all inclusive weekend that’s packed with fun. Indulge yourself with daily riding, all meals included, a beer garden, nighttime activities and plenty of fun for everyone. Bring along your entire family, your boyfriend, cousin, coworker and auntie – everyone’s going to love this one.
For two precious days, leave behind the cares of the world and settle into the campus of Linfield Collage, where you can camp or crash in the dorms, pass notes, gossip with your friends, kick back on the grassy quad, and stay up late. Keg stands not included.
During the day, WEEKENDER is all about wine country exploration with short, medium or long routes that snake through this gorgeous region with a stop at the famous Spruce Goose.
Rally your friends and get ready to make this the summer you remember for how awesome it was on your bike.
Long, medium and short routes every day
Staged out of Linfield college
Organized by the experts at Cycle Oregon (so you know it’s going to be good)
Onsite camping or dorm rooms
ROUTES + INFO >
Day One – Day Two
(click for larger versions)
The 15th Annual Filmed by Bike film festival features the world’s best bike movies May 5-7 at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland. After the Portland festival is over, Filmed by Bike On Tour brings the best of the fest to cities around the world.
A Jam Packed Weekend of Fun!
- Base Camp Street Party on opening night
- main stage of outdoor entertainment
- free Vibram Sole Factor cobbler service
- coffee from Nossa Familia
- free bike parking and complimentary BIKETOWN rides plus a special pop-up BIKETOWN bike share station at the festival
- Chris King Precision Components factory tour + chef-hosted reception
- Filmmaker Bike Ride
- Awards Ceremony
+ much more!
To get you excited for the festival, we’re sharing some of the festival’s best movies from over the years.
For the past 27 years, participants from avid cyclists to asthma sufferers have ridden the American Lung Association’s Reach the Beach in honor or memory of those whose lives have been touched by lung disease, COPD and asthma. With a goal to raise $750,000 for lung disease research, patient education and advocacy, more than 3,000 riders will pedal Oregon’s scenic backroads on Saturday, May 20, enjoying fresh air, great scenery and camaraderie on their way from Portland to the Oregon Coast along four different cycling routes.
Professional racer Chris Horner will be joining cyclists on the 104-mile route this year. Horner, who lives in Bend, Oregon is a Vuelta a España Champion, seven time Tour de France competitor, 2012 US Olympian, and Giro d’Italia competitor.
We sat down with Chris to learn more about his racing career and his personal involvement with the American Lung Association to help end the lung disease epidemic.
Q: Why are you excited to ride this year’s Reach the Beach?
A: It is great to have the chance to do a large fundraising event in Oregon. I love living in Oregon and supporting local events whenever I can, and Reach the Beach is an event I have heard of many times – great course, fantastic people, and it showcases some our great Oregon scenery. Also, having personally struggled with lung issues, I enjoy being able to help contribute to an organization that helps others in a similar situation.
Q: What is your connection to lung disease?
A: I was diagnosed with asthma in 2009 – and it opened my eyes to how much my lungs and my asthma affected my life. More recently, I got sick during the 2014 Tour de France with a lung infection that just wouldn’t go away. I have spent most of the past three years dealing with chronic infection and inflammation in my lungs, and it has completely changed my life. Even today, I’m not sure if I will be able to get my lungs back to full function, and if that’s the case, my racing career will be over.
Q: This year the event has an important goal of raising $750,000. What will the funds be used for?
A: The American Lung Association is a non-profit, voluntary public health organization that leads the country in improving health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The funds will be used to defeat lung cancer; improve the air we breathe; reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases.
Q: As a professional racer, how has lung disease impacted your racing career?
A: The lung infection I have been struggling with for almost three years has completely changed my career. I went from racing for a top European pro team, to not being sure if I will ever be able to race again. Trying to race through the issues has been a struggle, and if the issues can’t be solved, I will be done racing.
Q: How about your personal life?
A: When you are a professional athlete, your health and physical condition can be all consuming, because it not only allows you to do what you love, but it is also how you support your family. So my lung issues have been a major focus for our entire family for the past three years – never ending doctor visits and complicated treatments. I have been coughing for so long that our two year old would cough whenever I did to “be like daddy”. It always stops me to think that I got sick before he was even born and now have been sick his entire life.
Q: I bet there are many people who start to get serious about their riding and develop dreams of perhaps one day becoming a pro racer. What’s your favorite aspect of being a professional in the sport?
A: I love riding my bike, and I love racing. The ability to travel all over the world and compete at the top level still amazes me. Pushing yourself to the limit against the best in the world, and sometimes coming out on top, is a fantastic experience. I also really love the long training days, when it is just me and my bike out for 6 or 7 hours.
Q: You’ve had an impressive racing career. What would you say has been your most challenging race?
A: The 2013 Vuelta a Espana – the Tour of Spain – was by far the most challenging. I was coming back from being off the bike for months – and having had knee surgery to deal with an injury – and felt like it was a battle just to get to the start of the race in Spain. During the race, I had so many small struggles along the way, and to have it all come together in the end was amazing. My race easily could have fallen apart with a small crash or mechanical at the wrong time over the three weeks, so it was really stressful. Also, there would so many issues to battle during the race – internal team battles over leadership, illness, bad weather, nagging injuries, etc. – at the time it seemed almost impossible that I would be able to overcome all of the issues and win in the end. And to have it all come down to the last mountain top finish, with only a few seconds between us all, I think that represented what the race felt like for me over the entire three weeks – and the months before.
Q: You live in such a beautiful region of Oregon. Can you share your favorite Central Oregon ride?
A: McKenzie loop – start in Bend, ride around past the ODOT station past Sisters, then loop around and come back over McKenzie Pass. Long beautiful ride and a great excuse to stop at the Sister’s Donut shop on the way home!
Thanks Chris! We agree, McKenzie Pass is one of the most special rides in Oregon!
Look for Chris out there on this year’s Reach the Beach, an annual Oregon tradition.
REACH THE BEACH
Saturday, May 20
Portland > Pacific City
Routes: 104, 80, 55 or 26 miles
Finish line party in Pacific City
Return transportation available
ROUTES + DETAILS >