Biking is definitely all the rave nowadays. With the prospect of a long holiday vacation fast approaching, friends and families may even be planning their long awaited bike tour. Along with the preparations also comes the training to ensure endurance and zero injury. With this in mind, it is only fitting to learn what muscles used in biking and how to train them to improve performance.
So, what specific muscles are usually utilized when biking? Do trainings only concentrate on your quads and hamstrings? Or do you need to also include the arm and core muscles?
Your primary muscles will definitely be doing a lot of dirty work for the planned ride. These muscles are aptly called movers as they work to help in increasing your speed levels. The primary muscles for biking are those tiny fiber located just right at the hips and legs. Aptly called “pistons”, they move the legs at about 100 reps per minute. As the knee and hips extend to press for a downward pedal, the gluteus and quad muscles as well as the hamstrings and calf muscles must work together to deliver strong pedal revolutions.
To build strength in those pistons, one needs to focus on the quads and hamstrings. Do 5 to 6 sets of 8 to 12 reps of the following exercises—squats, single leg deadlifts, and heel raises. Be reminded that standing bike workouts will target the hamstrings while seated efforts usually focus on the quads. Do space out force effort to prevent pinched muscles and injury.
To build speed and efficiency, focus on fast cadence and seated efforts. Workouts that target the rectus femoris and the hip flexion should be foremost on your list. Plyometric workouts are perfect for this. Lance Armstrong engages in plyometrics. Think about squat jumps, jump to box, lateral jump to box, split squat jumps, tuck jumps, lateral box push-offs, bounding, bounding with rings, lateral hurdle jumps, zigzag hops, and many more.
Core training is a must for biking, too. No matter how astounding those calves and quads but when the core muscles are lacking, without a doubt the results could be disturbing. The muscles on your abs and lower back hold the crucial foundation of all your movements particularly the pedal stroke. A solid core somehow delivers a more focused upper-body movement. This is quite significant as it allows you to focus delivery of energy into that pedal stroke.
To build your core strength, it is important to also focus on workouts that nurtures those sinewy fibers. Think: boxer ball crunch, power bridge, hip extension, plank and transverse plank, scissors kick, catapult, and boat pose. Do this in conjunction with your upper and lower body strength training for a complete result.
What Drives You?
It is important to understand that riding on a bike technically allows you to make use of your overall muscles in the body—from the neck to the shoulder, arm, back, core, and legs. While you may train to focus on both core and pedal power, it is also imperative to add strength training for the upper torso to ensure not straining your shoulders, arms and back. Add a healthy balanced diet with focus on energy-giving foods to finely tune all your bases in preparation for the big ride ahead. Don’t forget to stretch before and after a workout, too, to prevent injury.