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Journal > A cyclist’s guide to stretching & core exercises

A cyclist’s guide to stretching & core exercises

March 18th, 2020 - Staff Writer

Building a strong core and increasing your flexibility will have a dramatic affect on your life, on and off the bike. Not only will it make you a better, fitter athlete, but when you’re spending hours in the saddle it will make you a more comfortable one, too. So once we realised that we had a leading personal trainer and fitness instructor in the gang, we asked her to come up with this guide to core work and stretching, just for you. Read it and make a few minutes time each day to practice a little. You will not regret it. 

This selection of core exercises and stretches can be done by anyone, without any special equipment, in just a few minutes. With the exercises, we’re aiming for one to two minutes on each one and for stretching, it’s important to do both sides and to hold each stretch for 30 – 60 seconds. You can do them before or after your ride, and if you stick to a routine of practicing four to six times a week, it won’t be long before you see the benefits.

Core Strength

Neutral spine plank with scapular presses

Start on your hands and knees, with your hips over your knees and your shoulders over your wrists. Maintain a neutral spine – the natural curves of the lower back and neck – and keep abdominals contracted. Then, while keeping your arms straight, draw your shoulder blades towards one-another, then spread them apart.

Forearm plank

Stack shoulders over elbows, with forearms parallel and your feet hip-width apart. Reach the crown of your head away, draw the front ribs in, with abdominals contracted and legs straight. Now, hold this for 30 – 60 seconds or alternate by bending knees. Beginners can start with their knees on the floor and hold for time.

Side plank

From a forearm plank, roll over onto one arm and put your higher leg in front of the bottom leg. Stack your top shoulder over your bottom shoulder and elbow. Tuck the pelvis, with your abdominals and glutes contracted. Then, lift and lower your hips two inches for one to two minutes, then repeat other side. 

Super man

Lay face down, with your arms extended overhead and legs parallel. Draw the navel/abdominals in and up. Now, lift your arms and legs off the floor and lower to start – keeping abdominals engaged throughout.

Sky Diver

From the superman – abdominals engaged, legs and arms raised, feet flexed – curl your heels together and draw your elbows towards the waist. Then return to superman and repeat.

Plank with oblique knees

Start in the plank position. Now, draw the right knee towards the right elbow, immediately repeating on your left side. 

Stretch

Kneeling low lunge

This one targets glutes, quadriceps and hip flexors. Place one knee directly over the ankle, with the back knee slightly behind your hip. Then, draw the abdominals in and tilt your pelvis under while gently pressing the front knee forward. Add a side bend for extra credit. 

Modified pigeon

This is great for glutes, hips and back. Start with both legs bent, one leg forward, shin perpendicular and feet flexed. Then gently lean forward, resting on the hands or forearms. There’s also the option to rotate your torso towards the front knee, reaching your arms/chest across and down.

Seated single-leg hamstring stretch

Begin seated, with the stretching leg extended and knee slightly bent. The other knee should be bent, with the sole of your foot on the inner thigh. Keeping your chest lifted, hinge forward, holding for one to two breaths before straightening the leg towards the floor and holding for another couple of breaths. Repeat. This stretch really helps hamstrings and glutes.

Lying Figure Four Stretch

Lying on your back, place your ankle on the opposite leg at the base of your quadriceps, keeping your feet flexed. Gently draw both knees towards your chest, keeping the open knee pressing out and away.

Chair Series

Standing Hip Flexor Stretch

This targets quadriceps and hip flexors. Facing a chair, place the right foot on top and the back knee slightly behind your hip. Keeping your abdominals engaged, tuck your pelvis under and bend your bottom knee towards the floor. Now, raise your left arm overhead and bend laterally.

Modified Down Dog

 Place your hands on the chair slightly wider than your shoulders, feet under your hips and hip-width apart. Then gently press your chest down, bending one knee and then the other. This will work on lats, back, hamstrings and glutes.

Standing Hamstring Stretch

For your hamstrings and glutes. Place one foot on the chair and your hands on your supporting thigh. Keeping the pelvis square and the spine extended (chest open), gently hinge forward from the hips. 

Standing Adductor Stretch

Standing to the side of the chair, with both feet facing straight and parallel, keeping your pelvis tucked and legs straight, raise the outside arm overhead and bend laterally towards the chair. Targets inner thighs, lats and obliques.

Seated Figure Four Stretch

Place your ankle on the opposite leg at the base of your quadriceps. With your foot flexed and spine extended, hinge forward to increase the stretch in the outer hip/glute complex. To deepen this stretch, place your hand on the outer knee and gently press down. Targets glutes, hips and lower back.

Shanti Tilling

Shanti has two decades of experience training indoors and outside. She also has an excellent reputation for her work with corporate clients and as the onsite fitness instructor for two major film studios. She is an outdoor fitness junkie who has cycled, hiked, run, surfed, paddled, and scuba-dived all over the world. That love for adventurous travel brought her to inGamba, in search of the ultimate cycling experience.

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