Pilates Helps Improve Cycling Performance

 

It’s that time of year when the competitive cycling season has come to an end and many athletes are already looking for ways they can get a head start on improving for next year.  That usually includes more time in the saddle, grueling interval workouts and cardio fitness testing.  The missing link in many athletes’ off-season program is core strength and stability training.  After many months of being hunched over their handlebars, cyclists often have tight lower backs and hamstrings, rounded shoulders, sore necks and weak abdominal.  

What does a strong Pilates core do for cyclists anyway?

Core strength will help transfer more power to the pedals by providing a solid platform for the lower body to push against. Core conditioning can improve strength, stability, agility, balance and flexibility for the muscles that control the trunk and spine.  A strong core can effectively transfer power to the extremities (arms and legs), improving performance as well as reducing the risk of injury.  

Pilates, a series of mind-body exercises, has been proven to be an excellent choice for core conditioning. Pilates exercises are dynamic movements and lifts intended to stretch, strengthen and balance the entire body.  Each movement in Pilates requires precise alignment of the torso, pelvis and shoulder girdle to enhance body awareness and condition efficient patterns of movement.  This will help many cyclists restore postural alignment, reposition the spine, open up the chest, ease and prevent back pain and relieve tension that often results from long periods of time spent in a mechanically unsound position.  Much like Yoga, Pilates also focuses on deep, thoracic breathing to help increase lung capacity and circulation.  

 
 


Pilates exercises that target the oblique and hips will reduce side-to-side movement when climbing and sprinting.  With increased strength and endurance of the transverse abdominal, your back will be more stable when bent over the handlebars.  As you develop more kinesthetic awareness and shoulder girdle strength and stability, bike handling skills and shock absorption will improve.  In addition, the gluteus muscles are important in stabilizing the pelvis and keeping your knees tracking properly, which can improve power output and reduce the risk of possible overuse injuries.  

When can I fit Pilates into my training schedule? 

Try taking a day off the bike for Pilates. It provides a great low-impact workout, isn’t overly exhausting, and has some great stretching built into the sessions. It only takes an hour.

Pilates can not only help you during the off-season, but certain exercises can keep you healthy and aligned during your competitive season giving you an added edge against your competition.  

 

 
Monique takes a breather while cycling her way to the top of the French Alps this summer.

Interested in attending a Pilates class tailored specifically to the needs of cyclists? For more information or to schedule an introductory session, please call Monique Jutila @ Fluid Motion Maui in Kihei  808-227-1113 or info@fluidmotionmaui.com.