Strength training is probably the only thing that has been convincingly proven to work for injury prevention in sports. And not only that – building strength in your legs carries over to cycling performance too. That’s why it should be implemented in your cross-training plan regularly. Ideally, you should have at least two sessions of strength training a week. Check out our previous article if you need tips for exercises and guidelines on how to do them.
Mobility and flexibility
The next best thing for injury prevention after strength is mobility and flexibility. Eliminating mobility limitations and keeping your body flexible will do wonders for both your cycling performance and how you feel overall. That’s where Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi come in. They help you loosen up tight muscles, especially after a lot of sitting in front of the computer or TV and on the bike. Plus, they teach you better breathing patterns, which is a useful bonus for any athlete. If you don’t have experience with any of the abovementioned styles of exercise, try our photo guide for the three most important stretches for cyclists instead.
You can improve your cycling power even without equipment – as long as there are stairs near you. Stair climbing is very similar to cycling. You use the same muscle groups as on a bike and you apply power one leg at a time. You can even do mini-intervals of 30 seconds full on and 15 seconds of rest, depending on the length of the stairs available to you. If you have no stairs near you, don’t worry, you can do squat jumps instead. You start out in a squat and then jump up, trying to get as high as possible, and then land back in the squat. You can develop explosive power for sprints doing this exercise but keep in mind that it’s high impact, especially on your knees, so build up intensity and duration gradually.
Doing cardio at home might sound weird or virtually impossible to many cyclists. But there are a few exercises that can do the trick if you need them to. One of the most reliable ways to get your heart racing are burpees. You don’t need any equipment, just a little bit of space and you will be sweating in no time. If you’re unsure how to do a proper burpee, check out this CrossFit video guide.
If you want something less intense or something to alternate between burpee segments, try jump rope. It is a very popular cross-training exercise for many different athletes and it might even turn out to be fun because it will remind you of being a kid and jumping rope for fun with your friends. Just a simple piece of rope will be all the equipment you need.
If those exercises still don’t sound fun, there’s one last option to get some cardio indoors – dancing. It’s easy, just put on some music and dance. There are no rules here, anything that gets your heart pumping exercises your cardiovascular system. Whether you want to invite other family members to join in or lock yourself alone is your call.