Cycling and Pilates

Leg strength will only get you so far on longer rides. Cycling’s tripod position, in which the saddle, pedals and handlebar support your weight, relies on core strength, but doesn’t build it. Although a cyclist’s legs provide the most tangible source of power, the abs and lowerback are the vital foundation from which all movement, including the peda lstroke, stems.

Cyclists tend to have highly-developed legs, but frequently without the same sort of muscular conditioning of the upper body. That problem becomes particularly pronounced when fatigue sets in.

As the fitness industry has evolved, professionals in the field have learned how important it is to effectively strengthen core musculature. If your center is strong and flexible, all types of movement are easier to perform. It’s clear that this concept applies well to improved performance in any type of sport or exercise.

Although cycling doesn’t use all of the body’s muscles, it does require overall strength, flexibility and balance. Pilates is a great complement to the Spinning program because it works the body as a whole and fosters postural alignment throughout a variety of motions. On the bike, this translates to more efficient performance. Think about the common postural faults of cyclists: rounded shoulders and increased thoracic kyphosis, forward head posture, tight calves, hip flexors, hamstrings, IT band and low back muscles, less strength in the upper torso and abdomen core weakness.

Because it promotes proper body mechanics and postural awareness, Pilates can help correct these faults. To keep you riding on the road to success, Pilates also helps prevent common injuries and discomfort—such as pain in the knees, feet, back, neck and arms—that can all too easily sidetrack or squelch a training program.

Benefits specifically related to cyclists include:

  • Greater effectiveness of the pedal stroke
  • Increased upper body strength
  • Prevention of lower back pain
  • Improved balance
  • More efficient recovery of leg muscles
  • Better endurance through focused breathing
  • Correction of muscle imbalances

We are a cycling family at Mind to Motion. Cycling is one of the easiest and most fun ways to exercise. It is also considered a base training exercise, which means it does endurance and aerobic exercise at the same time. Most of us know how to cycle and once you’ve learned, you never forget. All you need is a bike, a half an hour here and there, and a bit of confidence.

Contrary to popular conceptions, biking is not an exercise that solely involves the legs. Cycling uses body strength in a holistic way since every single part of the body is utilized. With this being said, it makes perfect sense that Pilates and cycling is a perfect marriage.

Pictured below from top to bottom: Karen Salvador, Thumper, and Karen Baker and Karen Salvador riding El Tour de Tucson 2011

 

Karen Salvador, Thumper, Karen Baker and Julie Fuller (not pictured) are currently training for Tour of the Tucson Mountains on April 28, 2012.