Calisthenics workouts may have been around for a long time, but there’s good reason people still use this exercise method to get fit.
Practicing calisthenics—or rhythmic bodyweight exercises—requires no equipment, only a small space, and they help you improve muscular endurance or how long your muscles can work without fatigue, Raj Hathiramani, certified running coach at Mile High Run Club in New York City, tells Runner’s World. The benefit for cyclists in particular: calisthenics can help you ride longer, faster, and more efficiently, and even sidestep injury.
The Benefits of a Calisthenic Workout for Cyclists
This calisthenic workout focuses on strengthening big muscles pertinent for cycling, says Hathiramani. For example, exercises like overhead reach, and single-leg glute bridges will help improve your back and core stability, while sumo squats, side planks, and fire hydrants will strengthen your hips, glutes, and hamstrings.
Even better, this mix of moves will improve knee drive and hamstring activation to increase power through your entire pedal stroke. Hathiramani adds, this full-body calisthenics workout will help your upper and lower body work together more efficiently when you ride to maintain good form and conserve energy. Translation: You can ride longer with proper posture and efficient pedaling with the help of this workout.
How to use this list: Hathiramani demonstrates these moves so you can master proper form. Complete each exercise in this workout for the number of reps listed below, resting for 15 seconds in between each exercise. Perform 2 sets, with a 1 minute of rest in between each set. You won’t need any equipment but an exercise mat is an option.
Do this workout on its own on a cross-training day, or use it as a dynamic warmup for your next ride.
1. Overhead reach
Why it works: Not only does this move help stretch your upper and lower back muscles Hathiramani says, but it will also help you maintain stability as you ride.
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hands on hips. This is your starting position. Pivot on right foot and reach right arm up and overhead across body towards left side. Return to the starting position. Repeat with left arm reaching up. Continue alternating. Do 10 reps each side.
2. Sumo Squat
Why it works: This move will help strengthen your hip abductors and glutes to improve your mobility and stability.
How to do it: Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and toes turned out 45 degrees. With pelvis in a neutral position, send hips back and down, and bend at knees until thighs are parallel with the ground. Remember to keep knees and toes in line and chest lifted as you squat. Press through feet to stand back up. Repeat. Thu 10 reps.
3. Reverse lunge to knee drive
Why it works: This move will fire up your hamstrings and calves to help you increase speed and ride efficiently.
How to do it: Stand with feet together. Take a big step backward with right foot and lower into a lunge, both knees bending 90 degrees. Push through left foot to stand, driving right knee up—while maintaining a 90-degree angle—until thigh is parallel to the floor. Step back into a lung. Repeat. Thu 10 reps. Then switch sides and repeat for 10 reps.
4. Side Plank With Leg Lift
Why it works: Hathiramani says practicing this move can help you prevent injuries like IT band syndrome, because it helps strengthen your stabilizing muscles.
How to do it: Start lying on side with right forearm on the ground, forming a straight line from head to heels, feet, knees, and hips stacked. Raise left arm straight up and hold, then lift left leg up. Pause, then slowly lower it back down. Repeat. Thu 10 reps. Then switch sides and repeat for 10 reps.
Why it works: Practice this move to help you master hills. Hathiramani says this exercise will help you strengthen your glutes, which power your rides.
How to do it: Start on all fours with hands right under shoulders and knees right under hips. Engage core and lift left leg up and away from body, keeping knee bent 90 degrees. Lower leg back down. Repeat. Thu 10 reps. Then switch sides and repeat for 10 reps.
6. Single Leg Glute Bridge
Why it works: Strengthening your core, hips, and hamstrings can help prevent back pain and other injuries.
How to do it: Lie faceup with arms down by sides, palms facing down, knees bent, and feet planted. Lift left foot off the ground and straighten leg toward ceiling. This is your starting position. Engage glutes and drive left foot into the ground to lift hips up. Slowly lower back down to the starting position. Repeat. Thu 10 reps. Then switch sides and repeat for 10 reps.
7. A Skip
Why it works: Hathiramani says practicing this move will allow you to develop your knee drive to help increase speed. It also gets the heart rate up.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip width apart. With a skipping motion, raise left leg to hip-height while coming to the ball of right foot and pump left arm forward, right arm back. Keep shoulders and hips aligned. Drive left foot back down. Then, raise right leg to hip-height while coming to the ball of left foot and pump right arm forward, left arm back. Continue alternating. Do 10 reps each side.
8. Butt Kick
Why it works: This exercise activates the back of the legs to help increase you ride faster, Hathiramani says.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip width apart. Kick left heel up toward glute, while driving right arm forward, left arm back. Then, kick right heel up toward glute, while driving left arm forward, right arm back. Continue alternating. Do 10 reps each side.
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