When was the last time you put your arms above your head or squatted down lower than a chair (or your bike seat)? Have you crawled lately or thrown something? Would hanging or crawling make your shoulder scream with pain, or is going swimming something that makes you nervous? Chances are, if you’re a cyclist, you probably focus on riding your bike, and these once natural movements of climbing, crawling, balancing, carrying and jumping aren’t in your repertoire.
These playful and seemingly simple activities are essentially what primal workouts are. These workouts often take place in outdoor or more natural settings and are a great way to mix up your workouts, build functional strength and mobility and stay engaged for the long term.
LIFT AND CARRY HEAVY THINGS
Deadlifts, squats and farmers carries are not proprietary to primal workouts, but most endurance athletes benefit from lifting heavy things and carrying heavy things around. It’s something we can do to preserve muscle mass.
You might have done bear crawls in your local gym. For cyclists, this crawling motion — lifting opposite limbs alternately — is in many ways similar to the cycling motion, especially when you’re out of the saddle for climbs or sprints. Many cyclists who struggle to stand and pedal explosively, or for extended durations, benefit from using crawling to work on their ability to breathe while stabilizing their body over moving limbs. Those who struggle with back, hip, knee or wrist pain generally find great improvements from gradually progressing their capacity for crawling. Look for crawling classes a local gyms and studios near you.
It is hard to avoid crashing in cycling, but it is possible to reduce the severity of a crash. The FMS (Functional Movement Screen) is a popular system that aims to help catch potential injuries before they happen and offers movements to help improve resilience to injury. This system incorporates primitive patterns that include rolling over and crawling-type motions. Tumbling, rolling and spending time on the ground provides strength, mobility and familiarity will helps you absorb and react to being on the ground after a mistake on the bike.
STRETCH AND MOVE
So many cyclists say they want (or should) stretch more. Adopting a movement practice (yoga, strength training, etc.) that is enjoyable can often help balance the time on the bike both physically and mentally. For many of us, strength training is a great way to work on a range of motion, maintain strength/muscle mass and help avoid injury. Primal workout moves offer palatable ways to incorporate range of motion with some active movement, especially for those athletes for whom strength and yoga do not resonate.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Whether you already have an off-bike movement practice like yoga or strength training or you’re looking to augment your cycling with something new, primal workouts are worth considering. It’s a great way to get strength and mobility training through fun and dynamic workouts. By working toward daily inclusion of these functional moves, you’ll start to notice more range of motion and a more varied menu of movements and activities that’ll ultimately translate to being a better cyclist.