Why Cyclists should consider Pilates as part of their training.

Why Cyclists should consider Pilates as part of their training.

If you want to be a ‘better’ cyclist you just put in ‘more miles’ right? Although to a certain extent yes, there are significant benefits to come from ‘off bike’ training such as Pilates.

Having a strong core can make it easier for you to climb and move around the bike. But many of us neglect our core muscles in favour of a few extra hours on the bike. A strong core can help revolutionise your cycling technique, whether you prefer skinny or fat tyre antics.

Pilates for cyclists

So, what is Pilates?
Pilates focuses on the ‘inner core’ of our bodies, developing strength from the innermost structures and works outwards. Rather than working our bodies through muscle isolation, Pilates focuses on posture, strength, mobility and flexibility from head to toe. Moving the body in complete flowing movements, not isolated parts.

Why is Pilates good for cyclists?
Besides the recognised benefits of taking time out to focus on you, in a calming and relaxing environment, it can actually improve your cycling form, efficiency and power. But how I hear you say?

Pilates:

  • Develops a strong core and back for stable upper body.
  • Builds cycling specific strength and muscle control.
  • Increases flexibility and helps relieve tightness in cycling specific muscles.
  • Reduces pain and discomfort from long stints in the saddle by building strength and stability in your muscles.
  • Breath work helps to speed up recovery time as well as building focus and mental stillness needed for tackling trail features.
  • Helps prevent and avoid injuries by creating an all-round more functional moving pattern.
  • Increases balance by working on muscle control, this transfers to the bike, when you’re moving around the bike.

pilates for cyclists

What some cyclists I work with have to say:

As a cyclist I fall foul of not stretching, but with Pilates it gives my body a wakeup call, stretching to relieve tension, working on my core, but also giving that hour to unwind mentally. Try it!”  – Matt

Since doing Pilates, my posture on my bike has been much improved. I feel more stable and have less pressure on my hands. My breathing is more controlled and I’m very aware of my shoulders – I consciously try to keep them relaxed and down which relieves tension in my neck and through my arms, which in turn makes cycling more comfortable. ” – Karen

How often should you do it?
There’s not really a set rule to the regularity with which you should do Pilates. If you only have one hour a week, you will feel the benefits. Spend time working with a good instructor, try and get yourself into a small group, not a class of 30! Although you will still gain benefits from being in a bigger group, in a smaller group the instructor can give more hands on correction and support to you as a client helping you make the greatest gains. Most instructors will also help you with exercises you can do at home on your own as well. The stretches in a Pilates class especially can be done after any ride including hamstring and hip flexor stretch both excellent for cyclists!

 

What will a first Pilates session typically look and feel like?
The first thing to note about Pilates is there is a lot of information; don’t panic if you come away from your first session with brain fog that is normal. Pilates is about controlled movement patterns so expect to spend time finding and engaging your core muscles. Each movement should flow and you may feel the breathing and coordination seems a little strange, don’t worry after a few classes it will become clear. You should leave feeling relaxed, energised and like you have used muscles you never knew existed!

Pilates for cyclists

If you would like more information on my Pilates classes or to book a bespoke session for your cycling club please send me an email.

Pilates Workout – Donkey Kicks with ball

Pilates Workout – Donkey Kicks with ball

Here is my latest video on how to do Donkey Kicks with the fitball. These are a great glute workout, remember to keep an eye on your alignment and form to get the most out of your workout.


1. Start on your hands and knees with your knees under hips in a box position.
Place the ball in the back of your knee.

2. With your spine in neutral, pull your belly button tight towards your spine. Imagine you have a tray of drinks on your back, keep it steady. Eye line down and keep a long neck.

3. Slowly press your thigh back, working leg is bent parallel into a donkey kick. Drive heel up towards the ceiling, hold for two seconds then lower the knee.
Perform 8-10 Reps.

4. This time take the leg out to the side raising it only as high as to maintain level hips. Perform 8-10 Reps.

5. Next take the leg across behind the supporting leg, try to maintain a steady back drawing your belly button to spine and even weight in both hands.
Perform 8-10 Reps.

6. Release and stretch into a child’s pose and reset for the second side.

Thanks for watching.

Pilates Balance Workout

Pilates Balance Workout

Over the next few weeks I will share with you some of my favourite Pilates workouts to increase strength, flexibility and balance.

Balance is a fundamental skill everyone should practise. It’s something we take for granted, but as we get older balance and muscle strength can help to stop us from having falls. When you balance on one leg you use your core and small muscles in your feet to keep upright. Find a spot on the wall in front of you which keeps you in alignment. Draw your belly button to your spine and feel the length through your spine, use your toes to grip the ground. In this video I have added in some upper body work with the ball, as you increase the range of movement think about squeezing your core to remain still. Each time you open your arms imagine squashing a walnut between your shoulder blades to activate your upper back muscles. As you improve increase the range of movement and then reps. To make it harder try standing on a block, to make it easier decrease the range of movement and height of the leg. I hope you enjoy this little video. Subscribe to keep updated with more Pilates workouts.

Posterior Shoulder Strength Exercise from our friends at Seventy9 Sports Therapy

Posterior Shoulder Strength Exercise from our friends at Seventy9 Sports Therapy

The structures of the posterior shoulder play a vital role in stabilising the ball and socket joint (glenohumeral joint) of the shoulder.  When they are dysfunctional, they are unable to generate appropriate  compressive force to the joint, leaving a feeling of disconnection in the shoulder girdle.  This is particularly important in overhead athletes such as throwers and swimmers.
This exercise targets all of the structures in the posterior shoulder with the long lever position creating an additional load challenge.
Externally rotate from the shoulder (the elbow/forearm will subsequently rotate), before horizontally extending the shoulder joint, driving the movement by squeezing the shoulder blade (scapula) backwards into retraction.  The movement should be smooth and controlled, yet with enough resistance to be a challenge.

‘seventy9 Sports Therapy is a private sports injury clinic in Farnham, Surrey, specialising in the treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries across the entire activity spectrum.  We pride ourselves on the delivery of a high-performance service, regardless of your physical or sporting abilities.  Our skilled and experienced therapists use best evidence-based practice to restore full fitness and function across the spectrum of sport, exercise and occupationally related injuries, treating you as an individual and building bespoke exercise programmes to fit your lifestyle and schedule.  Our therapists are all members of The Society of Sports Therapists.’

Why should you load your hip flexors? We talk to Ian from seventy9 Sports Therapy to find out more!

Everyone understands that loading the glutes is important for hip & back health, as well as sports performance.

But do you load your hip flexors? Muscles in the body work as pairs (agonists & antagonists), with one accelerating a movement whilst the opposing muscle acts as a brake. Glutes are hip extensors, therefore the opposing muscle to the hip flexors (during hip flexion/extension).

Hip flexors get a bit of a bum deal – the thinking being that they’re a structure that is always tight & creating pain. However, improving their ability to produce force often improves this tight feeling as they handle daily activities without reaction. Additionally there are performance benefits to hip flexor strengthening for all athletes. These include a snappier first step, improved recovery mechanics in all runners which positively impacts run economy, & improved out of the saddle pedalling (including sprinting) for cyclists.

This bridge position with miniband hip flexor march is a great way of getting hip flexor load whilst bracing the trunk & recruiting the posterior chain on the opposite side, mimicking the muscle recruitment patterns seen during running.’

 
 
‘seventy9 Sports Therapy is a private sports injury clinic in Farnham, Surrey, specialising in the treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal injuries across the entire activity spectrum.  We pride ourselves on the delivery of a high-performance service, regardless of your physical or sporting abilities.  Our skilled and experienced therapists use best evidence-based practice to restore full fitness and function across the spectrum of sport, exercise and occupationally related injuries, treating you as an individual and building bespoke exercise programmes to fit your lifestyle and schedule.  Our therapists are all members of The Society of Sports Therapists.’
Winter Fartleck Training

Winter Fartleck Training

Fartlek is Swedish for “speed play,” and that is what this training session is all about! Fartlek is unstructured and alternates moderate-to-hard efforts over a period of time.

During the winter months it’s good to mix up your training on the bike to keep you energised and excited about layering up and pedalling on.

I hope you enjoy my video!