There’s nothing better than feeling your fitness peak at just the right moment. Whether you’re a pro flying over a mountain pass or just a bike enthusiast, it makes all your hard work in the gym and on the road worthwhile. We all know that you need to ride on your bike to get better and faster, but you also need to train and fine-tune your whole body, including mental exercises to achieve peak performance. Follow these simple tips and get moving in the right direction.
Strengthen your Neck
While cycling, your neck muscles are constantly extended and it can be quite draining during long rides. A strong neck will help maintain proper spinal alignment and prevent injuries down the line. Try doing some Floor Bridges. Perform this fundamental exercise by lying on the floor on your back, keeping your feet together as you lift your hips and shoulders off the ground. Slowly extend your neck backwards, while keeping your back flat. Make sure your arms are crossed as you look upwards and behind you.
Upper Body Fitness
Make sure to strengthen your pectoral or chest muscles. The chest muscles play a key role in stability, power and steering control when you are sprinting on your bike. Try performing Stability Ball Push-ups. To start this exercise, assume a standard push-up position with your feet on the ground and compress the sides of the stability ball inward so your hands don’t slip down. Keep your back as flat as possible while performing this push-up. For added difficulty, rest your feet on top of a bench or try using only one foot.
Don’t forget to train your abdominal muscles to help establish your core strength, stability and power which are essential to your peak performance and overall health. You need a strong core to deliver sustained power when riding your bike on a climb, enabling you to handle the torque of your legs and minimize unwanted movement. Try performing stability ball pikes. Start by getting into a push-up position with your shins on top of a stability ball. Keep your back and legs straight as you roll the ball towards your head. Form a V-shape at the peak and slowly roll back into starting position.
Mental Focus Training
Cycling can require tremendous mental toughness, especially if you don’t ride with a team. Practice these simple mental training techniques to ensure peak performance. Try using affirmations or self-talk. Motivate yourself during a tough race or ride with, “I can do this or I can tough it out.” Don’t let negative thoughts creep in and stay calm when you get bumped or when you fall under pressure. Also, try using visual motor behavior rehearsal. Visualize yourself cycling; focus on enhancing your technique and analyzing and mentally correcting your errors. Then, while training, try to practice your corrected behavior.
- “ Cycling Anatomy”; Shannon Sovndal ; 2009
- · “Mental Training for Peak Performance”; Steven Ungerleider ; 2005