I’m working on creating a “Pilates for Athletes” workshop for fall. So many athletes today from Tiger Woods to David Beckham, and a few NFL players use Pilates to improve their performance. I just did an interview and video segment for Fusion Fitness Online yesterday (I’ll post a link to the video once it’s up on their site) and I focused mainly on how Pilates can help cyclists. I am currently training to complete my first century ride (100 miles) this year, and have found that both Yoga and Pilates have helped me to perform better and have more endurance on the bike.
Pilates is great for cyclists because it helps to improve core strength, posture, balance, and spinal flexibility. As any cyclist will tell you, the main problem with long rides is lower back pain. By strengthening the core, and the muscles of the lower back you can reduce lower back pain, allowing you to ride longer and with more power through your legs.
With the stronger core that Pilates will create for you, the push and pull of the legs through your pedal stroke becomes more efficient, there by increasing your endurance. Pilates will also increase flexibility in the back, hips and hamstrings, which will allow you to have an easier ride with more stability.
One of my favorite exercises to improve cycling power is the one pictured above: Single Leg Gluteal Lift. This move will strengthen abdominal muscles, the quads, glutes and hamstrings, while lengthening and strengthening the back. Start on the floor with a neutral spin, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift one leg up into the air 90 degrees from the hips. If you have super tight hip flexors or hamstrings, then have a slight bend in the knee of the leg in the air. Push down into the foot that is on the floor and lift the hips off of the floor, lengthening out the back. Hold for a breath or two, and then slowly release down one vertebrae at a time. Try to get full articulation of the spine as you come down, so release slowly to the floor. Do this about 5 – 10 times on each leg.
Keep an eye out here for the video to see what other exercises I recommend for cyclists.