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Life in Motion

Cyclists: Avoid this Common Mistake

Sports & Exercise

Many of us are anxious for the spring when the temperature will rise, snow will melt, and we can get back in the saddle. One mistake many cyclists make is not taking advantage of the time off the bike during the winter months to stay in shape. A comprehensive off-season strength and conditioning program has been proven to not only reduce the risk for overuse injury, but elevate cyclists’ overall performance on the bike and provide a competitive edge.

Instructors at the Cycling Performance Improvement Program recommend the following exercises to get you ready for cycling season.

Core Strengthening

Strengthening your core (lower back muscles, waist and abs) will improve balance and stability, help with form and increase your endurance. Try planks for a great core exercise.


  • Lie on your stomach with your forearms on the floor and your elbows directly below your shoulders.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and lift your hips off the floor.
  • Squeeze your gluteal muscles and lift your knees off the floor.
  • Push yourself up onto your elbows or with arms extended straight.
  • Keep your back straight and don’t let your hips drop or hinge up. Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Slowly return to the start position and rest 30 seconds. Repeat.
  • If you cannot hold this position, bring your knees back to the floor and hold with just your hips lifted.

Upper Body Strengthening

Many people are surprised to learn the importance of strengthening your upper body, which can tire easily from holding the handle bars for an extended period, for optimal cycling performance. Try the Y, T, I series for a great upper back and shoulder exercise.

  • Start by laying chest down on a stability ball in a plank position and with your arms hanging down in front of you.
  • Y– raise your arms overhead slightly wider than should width ( think of the touch down motion or the YMCA dance)
  • T– squeeze your shoulder blades back while pulling your arms back to shoulder height so that your body and arms form a T
  • I-retract your shoulder blades and move your arms backward towards your hips; keeping them close to your body.
  • Repeat 10 times each.

Lower Body Strengthening

Your lower body is what propels you forward when cycling, so getting your quadriceps, hips, and hamstrings in shape is essential. Try a backward lunge to strengthen your lower body and trunk.

  • Start standing with your feet together.
  • Take a step backward with your right foot landing on the ball of your foot.
  • Bend both knees to lower yourself down, but do not let your back knee touch the ground. Your back heel should remain off the ground and your lead foot stays flat.  Your trunk should remain upright.
  • Hold for a count of 2, and then push off your right foot to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times with each leg.

If you have any health concerns, always talk to your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine. To learn more about the cycling performance improvement program, click here or email

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