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Indoor cycling workouts are inevitable for most cyclists living in cold weather climates. While some will brave the cold weather daily, vowing to never train indoors, others will seek the benefits indoor cycling brings. Indoor trainer or roller workouts are great, allowing you to execute a workout precisely. At the same time, training indoors can lead to several issues, such as overuse and underuse of certain sport-specific muscles. This can lead to tight areas and imbalances. Combining certain strength and flexibility exercises off the bike will help prevent these issues from arising and make the indoor training season a productive one.
While indoor cycling has its advantages, it is important to incorporate some outdoor riding, or other activities such as hiking or running, through the winter months. The drawbacks to training indoors include the lack of side to side movement, pedaling in a fixed position, and the lack of position shift when climbing a hill. When riding outside, you are pulling on the handlebars, engaging your core and shifting your hips with the turns and obstacles. These specific movements are hard to replicate indoors. So, a bike ride on a cold snowy day may not be as focused on specific training zones as an indoor trainer ride will be, but the benefits from the balance and shift in movement on the bike will outweigh the lack of focus on intensity.
The lack of upper body and core engagement also places more emphasis on your primary cycling muscles. Your Primary muscles used for cycling>prime movers for cycling include your quadriceps, hamstrings and glute muscles. The greater demand on the prime movers means you will work those muscles slightly harder indoors compared to the same effort outside. This commonly leads to tight hamstrings, quads, hips and hip flexors, which then leads to other issues such as tightness around the knees and lower back.
Each of the exercises below targets the imbalances that can occur from indoor cycling. These exercises can be added to any training program, as long as you are following proper repetitions and sets for your training focus, and ability.
Strength & Flexibility Exercises
There are many core exercises and stretches that are beneficial though the indoor season. Planks, crunches, leg lifts and any exercise that requires core stability will benefit you. When training indoors, keep focused on stretching the areas that feel overworked and strengthening the areas that are underused. This will help get you get through the winter season, achieving the best fitness possible.
This article originally appeared on Trainingpeaks.com
About the Author
Mike Schultz brings more than 10 years of racing and training experience from national endurance and ultra endurance events, mountain bike stage races, and 24 hour solo cycling events. Mike is the head coach and founder of Highland Training. He is certified with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Personal Trainer and as a USA Cycling Certified Coach. Follow Mike on Twitter @Highland_Mike.