If you are looking to do some body work now to improve your cycling performance later you should consider doing an exercise known as a squat. Your legs are used heavily on a bike to spin the pedals and propel the bike and strengthening them will make a big difference in how fast and long you can ride. A squat is a body weight exercise that requires no gym visit or special equipment and can be done anytime and anywhere with as many repetitions as you want.
Why Do a Squat
Squats help us to perform and improve everyday basic movements, such as sitting, standing, lifting, running, walking, jumping, and cycling. Having strong muscles reduces the risk of injury and falls, improves endurance, and burns calories which aids in losing or maintaining weight and enhancing athletic performance. They are low impact, making them safe to do for all ages and fitness levels. As we get older, movement and strength will help us with our mobility and flexibility and allow us to continue to do the things we love.
Squats are a compound exercise which means that they work more than one muscle group at a time making the small investment of time to perform them have big results. They use the body’s largest muscles which makes the fat burning particularly efficient. Squats help to strengthen the bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons surrounding the hips, knees, ankles, thighs, gluts, obliques, quadriceps, and core. They are a strength exercise, but doing multiple repetitions can raise your heart rate and increase your metabolism which will benefit your heart and, along with a healthy diet, help maintain or lose weight. Squats strengthen your muscles allowing you to take some weight off your knees and ankles to reduce the likelihood of injury and can they improve your posture.
How to Do a Squat
There are many variations of the squat exercise for the legs where you position them in a narrow stance, medium stance, wide stance, single leg, or split. Arms can be left as your side, rested on your thighs, extended in front, or raised overhead with or without weights. Adopting the correct form is important so that you do not introduce any injuries. If you are just starting out, practice a basic squat as follows before moving onto more challenging versions:
Once you’ve mastered the basic back squat there are some modifications you can make to exercise different muscles or just add variety to your routine. Some of these require additional equipment.
Recovery from Squats
If you experience soreness and fatigue after doing a squat training session on multiple days in a row making it difficult to do the exercises the next day there are some things you can do to speed up recovery:
Squats are one of the most effective ways to improve your performance on the bike. Whether your plan includes 10, 50, or 100 squats every day will depend on your goals and the fitness level you’re starting from. If you are just getting back on the bike after an absence, talk to your doctor before you get started. If you are uncomfortable not knowing if your form is correct or not sure how many repetitions to do, work with a fitness trainer who can help you with these or watch some videos and check your form in a mirror.
Earth Rider Blog about Cycling
Sharon Kaminecki and others comment on adventures in bicycling and other stories