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Even the most avid spin cyclist should unclip from the pedals once in a while. Too much time in the saddle can overwork the hips, thighs and buttocks, leaving them tight. Meanwhile, the muscles in the upper body and core are barely challenged. Adding in different types of workouts can prevent injury and improve your overall fitness.
From yoga to weight training, try these cross-training moves for a better, more balanced workout regimen.
Spin class is fast-paced and high intensity. That’s great for sizzling calories, but over time all of that churning and burning can leave your body feeling beat up. New York City SoulCycle instructor Emily Turner likes to balance out her client’s cycling schedules with twice-weekly yoga sessions to stretch out muscles and firm up the core.
Turner says all cyclists can benefit from doing the Pigeon Pose to open up the hip flexors and stretch out the lower back. To do it, kneel on mat, then slide your bent right leg forward and your straight left leg backward. Take a deep breath, press your hands into the floor and stretch the torso up tall. Hold for five deep breaths. Repeat twice each side.
Cycling does a fine job of building stamina and muscular endurance, but for serious toning and sculpting, you need to hit the weights. Turner says studio cyclers should aim to do at least one full-body strength training routine every week to help prevent overuse injuries of the knees, hips and lower back. If you’re super-focused, you can knock out a full-body strength workout in 10 minutes or less.
Turner’s go-to strength training move is the Plank, which hits many muscle groups all at once, especially the core muscles of the abs and lower back. It does a great job of building both strength and stability, which makes every aspect of the ride better, notes Turner. To do a basic Plank, get into push-up position, lower your forearms to the floor and balance on them and the underside of your toes with your entire spine straight. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat twice.
Because you’re in a prolonged tucked position when you ride, cycling doesn’t do your posture any favors. The perfect antidote? Pilates, says Christine Bullock, fitness and nutrition expert. Taking a Pilates mat class a few times a month can help lengthen and strengthen the body while also increasing power and stamina, Bullock explains.
Pilates Shoulder Bridge
If you have time for only one Pilates move before a pedal-pumping workout, Bullock recommends making it the Pilates Shoulder Bridge. Lie on your back on a mat with your arms at your sides, knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Gently peel your spine up off the floor as high as you can and hold it there as you squeeze your buttocks muscles and press your shoulder blades into the mat. Hold a moment and slowly roll through the spine to lower back down. Keep breathing. Repeat eight times.
Barre workouts mimic what dancers do to achieve tall, effortless posture. For cyclists, barre is a good way to give a spine a break from spending so much time hunched over the handlebars. Barre work is a combination of isometric squeezes and small movements through a large range of motion. Fitness expert and Barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln says this will help cyclists balance out muscles that have become tight or weak from too much of a good spin.
The Rocking Horse opens the front body and strengthens the back body, which Lincoln says is important for cyclists who tend to have weak back and buttocks muscles and tight chest and hip flexor muscles. Stand tall facing a chair arm’s length away. Lightly rest your palms on the back of the chair. Straddle legs about a stride-length apart, right leg back. Bend both knees until right thigh is nearly perpendicular to floor and left thigh is parallel to it. Lean your torso forward, keeping your weight in your left heel. Lift the right foot up and your left arm up (as if you were reaching for an object on a high shelf), as you propel your body forward and up, keeping your torso at the same angle and focusing on full extension of your entire body. Lower to start. Smoothly and rhythmically, repeat 30 times to each side.
If you haven’t tried it already, TRX is suspension training done with a strap that allows you to exercise from a variety of different angles. It’s the ultimate complimentary training for cyclists, according to top New York City trainer Jordi Ciambrone, because it allows you to target muscles from virtually any angle. You can zero in on overused cycling muscles such as the core, hip flexors and thighs to work them precisely as needed. Many gyms and cycling studios have TRX system, and they’re also available for home use.
Single Leg TRX Lunge
Place your right toe in the TRX foot strap, and step your left leg about a stride’s length away from the strap. With hands on your hips, bend the left knee and allow the back leg to lengthen out behind you. Stand back up. Do 8 to 12 reps each leg. When you’re ready for more, inch your front leg a few inches further away from the strap to create more resistance.
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