06 Apr Home Workouts For Cyclist During The Covid-19 Pandemic
Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, many of us who are considered nonessential personnel have been advised, or even mandated, to shelter in place at home. If you live somewhere that has been locked down to the point that you don’t even feel comfortable taking a bike ride, you may be concerned with losing fitness. You may feel as if you’re going to watch with dismay as your hard-earned muscles atrophy before your very eyes. It’s also no secret that those of us in quarantine might be stress-eating all the quarantine snacks we can find, further affecting our fitness levels.
But have no fear! Even if you can’t get out and cycle off all those snacks, we’ve collected the best workouts to keep your cycling muscles fit, even if you can’t leave home.
What Muscles Do Cyclists Use?
Every sport and activity has its own set of primary muscles. If you’re a casual cyclist, you may not have considered which muscles you use most when you ride. In order to keep your body cycling fit, we need to target those muscles you utilize most while pedaling. So what exactly are the “cycling muscles?”
Primary Muscle Breakdown For Cyclists
For a cyclist, the primary muscles are located in the hips and legs. They are responsible for producing power and speed when pedaling your bike. For a road cyclist sitting in the saddle, you are exerting the most power when the pedals are between the 12 and 5 o’clock position. Your primary movements are knee and hip extension as well as hip flexion. Your “pedal power” starts with the glutes and quadriceps, and is then joined by the hamstrings and calves once you reach the 3 o’clock position (about a quarter turn through the revolution of the pedal). Your hamstrings and calves pull the pedal backward from the front of the stroke, and your quadriceps pull the pedal back up to the top.
In addition to these leg muscles, it’s also important to have a strong core. Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles is vital to any sport or physical activity, as well as to your overall endurance and health.
Focusing On Muscle Groups To Retain Cycling Fitness
When it comes to strengthening your muscles (or retaining strength) for riding a bike, there is no one muscle group listed above that plays a more important role than the others. Productive strength training sessions will incorporate activities that incorporate all of these muscles.
Strength Training To Stay Cycling Fit
One of the best and easiest ways to keep your cycling muscles primed and ready is strength training. Strength training involves using weights (or the weight of your body) to build and maintain muscles as well as burn calories. Here are several exercises you can do at home that will help you target those important cycling muscles. Most of these exercises can be done with or without weights, and with virtually no other equipment required.
Exercises To Target the Legs and Glutes
Many exercises target leg and glute muscles simultaneously. Here are simple ones that can be done in the comfort of your own home.
Lunges are a great and easy way to build strength. Begin standing erect with both feet together. Step forward with one leg, keeping your back straight and bending your front knee to 90 degrees. Your back leg you should keep straight. Return to a standing position and repeat with the other leg. Lunges target your glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings, providing an excellent all-around leg workout.
To target different muscle groups, try lunging to the side instead of forward.
Lunges with a bicep curl: If you have a small set of hand weights (or 2 similarly-sized soup cans), you can incorporate an arm workout into your lunges. Begin standing erect with a dumbbell in each hand. Perform a normal lunge. While in a lunge position, perform a bicep curl with both arms simultaneously. Repeat with the other leg. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
A step up is exactly what it sounds like: repeatedly stepping up and down off of something. You can purchase a step up block specifically made for exercising, but you can also use a stair, box, stool, or any other box-shaped object about 6 inches high. Step-ups are incredibly simple: step up with one leg and then raise your trailing leg onto the platform. Step down with the trailing leg leg first. Repeat on the other side. To increase the difficulty of this exercise, you can increase your speed, the height of the step, or hold weight. Dumbbells are easy to hold but you could do this exercise holding a sack of flour if you wanted to.
For an even more challenging step-up, step up with your lead foot as above. Bring your trailing leg up onto the step. Then, instead of stepping down with your trailing foot foot, stop before the toes of your trailing foot touch the ground. Hold that position for a second or two. Then bring the trailing foot back up onto the step. Repeat this 10 times or so, then switch to the other leg. This exercise is more difficult because it keeps your lead leg under tension for the duration of your repetitions. Step-ups target your glutes and quads.
Squats are often done with the help of weights and a barbell, but they don’t have to be. To perform a squat, begin by standing straight with your feet at shoulder width. Slowly lower your butt towards the ground while keeping your back straight. The lower you can bend the better. Slowly return to a standing position. To ensure proper form, try squatting in front of a mirror.
To make the squat more difficult, hold weight. If you don’t have dumbbells or a kettlebell, use something heavy you can easily hold, even a toddler or a calm dog will do the trick! Squats focus on the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core muscles.
Exercises To Target Your Core
Having a strong core isn’t just important for cycling, but for overall health.
There are many variations of plank exercises, but most target your abdominal muscles as well as your upper and lower back. The most common is a front plank. To properly do a front plank, lie on your stomach on the floor. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders with your forearms and hands on the floor. Next, lift your hips off the floor, making sure to keep your back straight and abdominals flexed. Rest your weight on your elbows, forearms, and toes. Try to complete two sets of 40 to 60 seconds.
Lie down on the floor with your legs bent. Lift your hips and one foot off of the floor. From your shoulders to your knee should be one flat plane. As you lift your hips into the air, concentrate on flexing your glute muscles. Keep the toes on the lifted leg pointed straight up. Keep the leg lifted for 2 seconds, then lower. Repeat on the other side. Try 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps on each leg.
Start in a sitting position with your knees bent in front of you and your feet flat on the ground. Keeping your legs straight, lift and extend your legs out in front of you. Lean your upper body back so that your body is now forming a “V” (or boat) shape. Stretch your arms out straight in front of you and tighten your abdominal muscles. Make sure to keep your back straight, not rounded. Hold this position for 10 seconds, then repeat 4 more times.
If you have a stationary bike at home, they are a great way to stay in cycling shape during the pandemic. A fantastic way to retain endurance and fitness while stuck at home is to use interval workouts. The following is a great interval workout:
For this workout, the intensities are classified as follows:
Easy: the equivalent of a flat road. Use a slight base resistance and a pace you could maintain all day long. You can carry on a full conversation.
Moderate: this intensity will feel more like work but is still very maintainable. You may notice your breathing gets a bit heavier. You could talk, but maybe not in full sentences. Use enough resistance that you feel like you’re climbing a small incline.
Hard: we’re working now. Your breathing should be heavy and you might be able to say a word or two, but you’re too busy at the moment. Your resistance should be medium to heavy now.All-Out: at this level, you’re giving everything you have. Use the heaviest resistance you can handle while still being able to pedal.
A Note On Pelotons
Pelotons are stationary bikes with an internet connection. They enable their users to connect to and participate in spinning classes. These classes are provided on a live stream basis for the price of a monthly subscription. There is a touchscreen through which the user can view classes. Users must have the peloton machine as well as special cleats that lock into the pedals.
Staying Fit While Quarantined At Home
While we may be quarantined in our homes now, it won’t be that way forever. Keep your cycling muscles fighting fit so you’re ready to hit the streets (or trails) as soon as we’re safely able to leave our homes. Stay fit, stay healthy, stay sane.