There are various exercises that can help you keep your cycling body strong and svelte. One of the best is Pilates – which is often overlooked. While yoga and strength training are awesome for cyclists, Pilates can give you a great stretching routine while lengthening and strengthening your lean muscles. Since Pilates focuses of your core muscles, cyclists of all ages and fitness levels can use these exercises to help improve their bodies – and in return their cycling stamina.
Your Core Is The Core
Your core strength is important for many things: Your stature, your spinal health, your diaphragm health, your breathing – and your toned abs. Without a strong core, your body is not at its optimal level, and neither is your cycling routine. Pilates exercises are targeted to develop strength in the deep intrinsic muscles of the abdomen and spine, taking pressure off the superficial muscles and promoting more balanced and efficient use. This kind of inner strength training, along with Pilates’ focus on alignment and torso stability will support you as a cyclist through those long rides.
The key to Pilates is that each movement requires proper alignment of the pelvis, which in turn requires subtle torso movements that help strengthen the core body muscles important to cycling: transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, external and internal oblique and erector spinae. Have you noticed the body language of a tired cyclist? The chest drops so that the neck has to bend unnaturally to hold the head up, and all the weight falls into the front of the arms, the deltoids, biceps and forearms. Pilates can help you avoid looking like a tired cyclist – even if you are. Now, proper alignment doesn’t happen overnight. It may take months of Pilates classes (or at-home DVD sessions) to get proper alignment and your breathing techniques down – but it is well worth it to your health and your cycling routine.
Self Awareness Booster
Pilates can help you boost your self awareness. You are focusing on your posture, your breathing, and your overall feeling. This is something that we do not do enough of in our busy world, so taking the time to actually experience it can be eye-opening. You can learn if you are rushing through your breathes, if you are slouching, or if you are generally unphased by everything going on in your body. Even if you are in tune with your body, becoming more self aware can help you with cycling, as well: You can learn to correct what you need to correct, body-wise, and this can allow you to cycle longer, and faster.