3 Off-Bike Exercises All Cyclists Should Do

Peter Glassford
by Peter Glassford
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3 Off-Bike Exercises All Cyclists Should Do

If you decided it’s time to get better at riding a bike, the next step is to start practicing. But sometimes it’s hard to get out often enough as work, a social life, travel and weather conspire against our best efforts. The good news is: it is possible to get better at riding a bike without riding one because certain movement skills can transfer to your bike skills, especially if you are visualizing your riding skills as you perform them.

Here are three off-bike movements that will help you bust through bike skill plateaus:


The move: Slowly raise a single arm or leg, or both at the same time, then do this faster, alternating back and forth. This concept of pushing into our right hand while also putting our weight into our left foot is very similar to what we have to do dynamically as we pedal standing up or while cornering. We need to find balance, or tension, by applying pressure through our limbs.

Try It: Alternate 10–20 plank opposites with a smooth, regular breathing pattern. If you can’t breathe smoothly, do shoulder touches while holding a plank or assuming a table-top (quadruped) position and trying the opposites from this position. Visualize going through left hand and right hand corners as you alternate through your opposites or just after you finish them, while you recover.


The move: The hip-hinge is seemingly very easy. It is our deadlift or kettlebell swing in the gym, it is reaching down to pick something up using our hips. Working on this athletic, hips-back position off the bike will help you assume an athletic position on the bike and also develop power quickly by opening your hip, as in the kettlebell swing, to execute moves like the bunny-hop.

Try It: To practice the motion, stand about six inches from a wall, with your back to the wall. Reach your hips back then stand back up by ‘popping’ your hips forward. You can incorporate your arms to mimic a kettlebell swing motion by reaching your hands and your hips back to the wall behind you then reversing the motion to open your hips quickly and stand up, which should cause your arms to swing forward. Progress this carefully to a kettlebell swing or a deadlift as your hip-hinge becomes more consistent and strong.


The move: The lunge or split squat are a very common movements in the gym but relate nicely to our offset position on our pedals and also to the alternating hip extension and flexion our legs go through as we pedal. Just like pedaling, we have one leg that is straight while the other is bent up towards our stomach. Getting used to being in this split stance will help you get used to the balance and also help you build strength and mobility required to be great at riding your bike.

Try It: In the office or while watching TV use a lunge stretch to develop your range of motion. Simply get down onto one knee, and press in and out of the end point of your range of motion. Pad your back knee to avoid any knee soreness. During your core or strength routines you can do lunges by stepping forward or back into a split stance alternately or for a few reps on each leg. Add weight as you like as well.


Incorporate these three exercises into your day, perhaps for 10 minutes as your breakfast cooks or as part of a regular core routine and think about how the motion relates to situations on the bike. This visualization will help you connect the feeling and movement patterns to your cycling next time you ride.


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About the Author

Peter Glassford
Peter Glassford

Peter is a cycling coach and registered kinesiologist from Ontario, Canada. He travels frequently to work with athletes at races, camps and clinics. He also races mountain bikes for Trek Canada and pursues adventure in all types of movement. Follow @peterglassford on Twitter, or check out his online and in-person coaching at www.smartathlete.ca.


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