Winter Conditioning for Cyclists

Winter Conditioning for Cyclists

Staying fit when temps drop

Let's be honest. There's not many of us slogging it out on the bike in certain conditions. That means that during the off-season, our cycling fitness tends to take a major hit. This winter, stay fit and ready for spring with conditioning exercises specifically targeted for cyclists.

Working out with an indoor trainer is an excellent way to stay in shape when the weather is not ideal. However, a few additional exercises can truly make a difference in your strength and conditioning. When discussing winter conditioning, there are two important components - cardio and strength training.

Cardio Training

Keeping up your cardio endurance is a must during the winter. Cardio endurance can be maintained by using an indoor trainer. However, there are many other creative ways to get in your cardio hours. Going for a run can help build bone density (which interestingly can be lowered by cycling) and is a great alternative to the trainer. Hiking or snowshoeing are two winter activities that can also get your cardio minutes in. Looking for a cardio exercise that uses similar large muscle groups as cycling? Try skate skiing this winter and get a workout that will directly translate to the bike.

Strength Training

In addition to getting in cardio workouts, it is important to add in strength training as well. Strength training will improve both your power output and your efficiency on the bike. If you're looking to be fit for spring cycling, try incorporating these three exercises after each of your cardio workouts.

Plank Rows

Plank rows require you to stabilize your core throughout in a way you wouldn’t while standing. A strong core will lead to much greater efficiency on the bike.

How to do plank rows: Begin in a high plank position with your wrists under your shoulders, your hands holding the handles of two dumbbells. Keeping a straight back and tight core, draw the right dumbbell up to your right ribs. Return the dumbbell to the ground, and repeat on the left side. Continue to alternate, performing 10 plank rows on each side.

Lateral Side Jumps

The muscles that move the body sideways can get neglected in cyclists. This neglect can cause weak hip flexors that in turn lead to your knees not tracking correctly. Avoid these issues by strengthening these muscles with lateral side jumps.

How to do lateral side jumps: Start in a standing position with your feet close together, toes pointed forward. Squat slightly and push through your heels to jump about two feet sideways. Land softly and sink back into a squat, then jump back to the opposite side. Continue alternating for 30 to 60 seconds.

Squat Thrusters

This explosive movement engages not only your entire core, but your lower body as well. Because this exercise uses so many large muscles, doing fast reps demands a ton of oxygen and pushes your anaerobic ability. Consequently, it will help you gain more wattage on the bike.

How to do squat thrusters: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, then place palms on the floor and jump with your feet straight back. Jump your feet back up to your palms, then drive through heels to return to stand. Repeat for 30-60 seconds.


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