Take Your Training Off the Bike: Why Isometrics Might Be The Secret Ingredient to Your Cycling Success

If you’ve landed on this article, chances are you frequent the cycle studio or spend a lot of your free time on a bike. Or, maybe this article caught your eye because you’re interested in picking up mountain biking or some other form of cycling as a hobby. In any case, we think it’s safe to assume you’re here because you want to step up your cycling game and we’re here to help you do just that. With National Bike to Work Day right around the corner (May 15th, to be exact), it got us thinking about all the ways isometrics can be beneficial to cyclists and we think they might just be the secret ingredient to your cycling success!

Before we dive in, let’s cover Isometrics 101, just in case you’re unfamiliar with the term. Isometric exercise involves contracting a muscle or muscle group and holding that contraction for an extended period of time. A plank or wall sit, for example, are extremely popular forms of isometric exercises. Isometrics are static movements and during them your muscles don’t lengthen and the surrounding joints around your muscles don’t move. They are an extremely powerful and effective form of exercise and they can be beneficial to almost anyone.

Isometrics + Cycling = A Match Made in Training Heaven
Now that we’ve covered the basics, we can get to the good stuff, and by that we mean all the reasons isometrics are useful to incorporate into a cyclist’s training regimen. Although isometric exercise is done completely off the bike, the results of this training method translate perfectly to your on-bike success. During isometrics, you can isolate and focus on building strength in the specific muscle groups used to propel your bike forward, like your quads, glutes and hamstrings. Increasing the endurance of these muscles can be especially beneficial when biking up a hill or through rough terrain. Without proper training of these leg muscles, it could result in muscle fatigue during your ride, ultimately making your time on the bike more of a struggle than it needs to be. Wall sits and glute bridges are perfect examples of isometric exercises that work these specific muscles. These types of exercises also work your stabilizer muscles, which are the muscles used to simply remain upright on a bike.

Another benefit of isometric exercise is that it can be used to treat and minimize injuries commonly related to cycling sports. Neck and back pain is extremely common simply due to the angle that your body rides at on a bike. In fact, this type of pain is reported by up to 60% of riders. Incorporating isometrics that strengthen the muscles associated with this pain into your training program can be crucial to avoiding these types of injuries altogether or causing further complications to existing injuries. Cervical isometrics focused on strengthening the neck and traps are great examples to start with.

Lastly, isometrics can also be used as a great warm up before a ride. A proper warm up is essential for minimizing risk of injury and increasing endurance in cyclists, yet it is often overlooked. Why? Maybe you’re pressed for time or just too eager to get on the bike that you decide to skip this step, but incorporating even a quick 5-minute isometric warm-up can contribute to a more successful ride on the bike. Isometrics are a great option because they are super intense, but for a short period of time, so they are an efficient way to warm-up your muscles so you can get to doing what you love most, biking. Plus, studies have also shown that warming up with isometrics results in muscles being able to endure more force until failure, which is crucial when it comes to an endurance based sport like cycling. 

How Activ5 Can Help
An overwhelming amount of evidence has proven that isometrics can be beneficial to cyclists and other athletes alike, and the Activ5 by Activbody is a device designed to facilitate this type of exercise in a way that is convenient, easy and fun. Paired with a smartphone app, the small and portable Activ5 device coaches you through quick isometric workouts that can be done virtually anywhere. That means whether you are on the trail, at the cycle studio or anywhere in between, the Activ5 will be there to help take your biking game to the next level.

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