Cycling is a low impact yet powerful workout that has tons of health benefits. From melting down the fat to healthy heart rate, cycling is the best workout for all. Now, if you are a regular cyclist, you would know it's not the legs but your hips that give power to the pedal stroke. In fact, hips are the base for good pedalling and that's why for good mobility and injury free body, every cyclist must indulge in hip strengthening exercises. Cyclists need to have a stronger leg and hip muscles so that they can stay fit and have the desired endurance. Glutes muscles more commonly called as the hip muscles are an important part which needs to be strengthened to have proper mobility and no injury in the body of the cyclist.
Hip Strengthening Exercises for Cyclists
If your Glutes are not functioning properly, the hip extension muscles – hamstrings and lumbar extensors do the job. These are more commonly called the hip extension muscles. If you don’t work on these muscles, after cycling you will notice lower back pain, hip pain and some knee pain as well. There are some effective hip strengthening exercises which increase your hip muscle strength and core strength and build your endurance. When these exercises are done regularly, they will strengthen the hip muscles of the cyclists and help them exercise longer without pain.
1. Single Leg Hip Lift
Lie down on the floor and keep your legs bent with knees facing the ceiling. Lift one of your legs in bent position concentrating on your hip muscles/glutes muscles. Always remember to keep your toes and knees facing upwards for the best results. You can do this exercise of 2 sets for each leg with 12 reps.
2. Split Squat
The hip squat is a tried and tested exercise that enhances hip mobility. To make this hip strengthening exercise count, even more, concentrate on contracting your glutes on the hind leg. This is one of the best hip strengthening exercise for men and women.
3. Lateral Squat
This is considered as one of the core exercises for cyclists. For performing the lateral squat properly, stand with your feet apart and keep the knees pointing towards your toe and bend the leg. You need to shift your weight from centre to side for 3 sets of 12 reps each.
4. 4 way Mini Band
Resistance bands are the best way to strengthen the hips. And the 4-way mini band is one of the best hip strengthening exercises with resistance bands. Tie the mini band around your ankle, and spread your feet till it is tight. Make sure your toes are pointing forward and legs are straight. Walk forward 10 steps and back and feel the resistance. Start with a low resistance band and then move to a higher resistance one.
5. X- Band Walk
You will require a large band or tube for performing this exercise. Step on the band and spread your feet. Make an ‘X’ shape from the band and hold it in your hands. You need to stand straight and tall with your shoulders slightly bent. Take 10 steps from the centre to each side. This again is a very helpful hip strengthening exercise for cyclists.
6. 4 Way Cable Hip
For this hip strengthening exercise, you will need a resistance band. This exercise is your answer to how do I strengthen hip joints? When you perform this exercise, you will focus on abduction, extension, adduction, and flexion. Tie the band to one of your ankle and swing that leg side to side. Stand tall and straight without moving. Try doing 10 reps in each direction, each leg.
7. Lateral Lunges
Stand straight in the centre and lunge on one side and return to the centre. Make sure you don’t jerk your body and move your weight over the bent leg. Perform sets of 12 reps each on both the legs. This exercise will strengthen the glutes and even tone your lower body.
8. Rotational Lunges
Bend on one side by spreading your legs with knees turned outwards. This is one of the core workouts a cyclist needs to do on a daily basis for strengthening the hip muscles.
9. Lateral Step Up
Keep a short height table on your side and step up on it. This is for building on to the hip extension muscles. You can perform 3 sets of 12 reps each.
10. Hip Flexor
Hip flexor stretches are easiest workout to flex the hip muscles. They improve the flexibility of the hip muscles as well as stretch the muscles. Sit on one knee and bend the other knee facing outwards. Stretch the hind leg as much as possible to feel a pull in the hip muscles. Stay in this position for a minimum of 30 seconds, to begin with.
11. Adductor Stretch
This is an excellent stretching exercise which will help pre and post cycling. This stretch will stretch out your hip muscles and even relax them after a workout. Sit on the floor with your heels connected with each other. Make a butterfly position with back straight. Hold the feet with your hands for 30 seconds.
12. Figure 4 Stretch
Functioning of hips and its muscles are not just important when it comes to cycling but also for having a good and healthy life. This exercise helps in flexibility and mobility keeps the hips strong and healthy. Lie on your back, flat on the mat. Now, bend the right knee and slowly bring your left ankle over your right thigh. Clasp both your hands on your right thigh and bend the right leg towards the chest. Repeat the same with the left leg. Perform this exercise. 10-15 times.
This exercise will enhance your balance on the saddle and strengthen the gluteus medius. Lie on the floor on one side with your knees bent keeping your legs and ankle together with help of a resistance band. Start to separate your knees slowly and like you move a clam. Do 3 sets of 12 reps each on both the sides.
14. Side Step
Sidestep is excellent for improving your uphill ride, also it will bring stability and balance while riding. Tie a resistance band above the ankle and spread your feet. Stand straight and tall. Once the band is tight enough, take lateral steps sideways. This step should be some inches wider than your shoulder. Do 3 sets of 10 steps each.
15. Single Leg Bridge
This is also considered as one of the most effective hip strengthening exercises. Lie on your back with hands to the side and knees bent. Raise one leg to a straight line and push the other heel to the ground. The raised leg should form a straight line with the knees and the shoulder. Hold this position for 7 – 10 minutes with each leg.
16. TRX Leg Curls
Feel fatigue after a long ride? Then improve your strength and performance on the bike with TRX leg curls. You will require TRX cables to perform this exercise. This is for strengthening the hip muscles and your core. Lie on your back and place your legs on the TRX cradles. Keeping your hands flat on the floor raise your hips. Make sure your core, glutens and stomach are tight and you feel the pressure. Perform 4 sets each with 12 reps.
Three Hip-Conditioning Techniques for Cyclists
Cycling strains the hips easily, so along with strengthening exercises, hips also need good stretching exercises too. A mix of both strengthening and stretching exercises will help the rider perform effortlessly on the bike. Here are the easiest and productive ways for cyclists to keep their hips in good shape and strong:
- Planks with Overhead Reach
- The Scooter
- The Low Lunge
Always perform a low lunge after your ride. This will relax as well as strengthen the hip muscles.
Having a strong core and doing hip strengthening exercises regularly is a must for every cyclist. This activity not only builds strength but also makes one a fitter individual. All the exercises should be done on a daily basis to get desired results and which will help you strengthen your hip muscles.
Exercising for the entire body is important but if you are a cyclist then building on to your lower body especially your hip and core region is very important. These exercises are your answer to the pain you get while or post cycling, gaining the perfect mobility and flexibility in your body.
So, before you hit the road with your cycle, make sure you start with these exercises for a fitter you and a better ride!