Strength Indoors


With no sporting events planned for some time, now’s the perfect opportunity to add in some strength and conditioning to your training. You don’t need a fancy gym to improve your strength – here are 6 exercises that will improve your cycling.

Core Exercises

1 – The Plank

Your core – the muscles of your torso that control your spine and pelvis – is essential to help you deliver maximal power through the pedals. Cyclists will naturally develop strong legs, but without sufficient core stability this strength can be wasted. Even worse, muscular imbalances resulting from hours in the saddle can lead to injury.

The first exercise is one that most have heard of: the “plank”. Facing downwards, put your forearms (or hands) on the floor shoulder-width apart. Then place your feet out behind you and rest on your toes. Now raise your hips until your shoulder, hips and ankles are all in a line.

Try to hold this for 3 sets of 20 seconds to begin with.


Watch out for an overly arched back – get someone to have a look, and if there’s a hollow shape where the back meets the hips then you need to focus on contracting your abdominal muscles and rotating your pelvis forwards.

2 – Side Plank

As we cycle, the alternate pushing of each leg will tend to rock the pelvis from side-to-side. The side plank can help strengthen the oblique muscles on the side of your torso.

Place one forearm on the ground and stretch out your legs, placing your feet on top of each other. Raise your hips until you can form a straight line along your spine and legs.


Try to hold this for 3 sets of 20 seconds (both sides) to begin with.

3 – Leg Extensions

A third core strengthening exercise is leg extensions. These are a dynamic exercise, rather than the isometric holds (static) that we see with the planks. These should improve your ability to hold your core steady whilst working through the full range of motion of your legs.

Begin by lying on your back with your arms by your side and your legs forming a right angle (as though you were sitting down). Now gradually extend your legs out until they are straight before bringing them back towards you again. Taking 3 seconds out and 3 seconds back will ensure control.


Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions to start with.

Leg Exercises

4 – Glute Bridge

The “bridge”, or glute bridge, is an exercise for engaging your gluteal muscles. Unfortunately most of us spend far too much time sat down as part of our jobs. This leads to under-used gluteal muscles that are held in a lengthened state for prolonged periods of time. Not only does this weaken the gluteals themselves, but also tightens the hip flexors (the muscles at the front of your pelvis that bring your legs towards your torso).

The bridge is easy enough. First lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and legs at approximately 60 degrees. Then push your hips upwards as far as they will go. Try to control this movement in both directions; a good starting point would be 3 seconds up, 3 seconds hold and 3 seconds down again.

Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions to start with.


Aim to push upwards by squeezing your glutes – you’ll feel it in your buttocks!

5 – Single Leg Squats

Single leg squats, or “pistol squats” allow you to build significant leg strength and stability by engaging your hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteus maximus, and calves.

Given that you’re lifting about 80% of your body mass (everything except one leg!), a single leg squat isn’t easy. To start with, it’s best to do some “assisted” squats, using a suitable doorway. Place one foot just behind the doorway and grab the doorframe with your hands at about waist height. Then lower yourself down as far as you can, reaching out in front of you with your free leg to balance your weight.


Try to keep your heel planted on the floor throughout, and don’t go any deeper than you feel comfotable with. Control is critical with this exercise.

Start with 2 sets of 5 repetitions on each side and gradually build the repetitions and sets once you’re comfortable.

Upper Body Exercises

6 – Tricep Dips

Tricep dips are an upper body exercise that some may not expect in a cycling-focussed workout. However, particularly in an agressive road cycling or time trial position, cyclists must hold a position with their arms at roughly a 90 degree angle. This places extra stress on the shoulders and arms (particularly the triceps) that can highlight a lack of musculature.

A low table, bench or chair is best for this exercise. Place the heels of your hands on the edge of the table, with fingers pointing towards the edge (or gripping if you prefer). Then stretch your feet out in front of you, resting on your heels. Starting with arms straight, gradually lower your torso down until you are nearly sitting on the floor. Then simply push back up to straight again. 3 seconds down and 3 seconds back up.


Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions to start with.

Suggested Workout (40-45min)

  1. Warm-up: 5-10 minutes of light exercises (e.g. jumping jacks, skipping, turbo trainer)
  2. Single leg squats: 2 sets of 5 repetitions on each leg / 3 mins rest
  3. Plank: 3 sets of 20 seconds hold / 30 seconds rest
  4. Tricep dips: 3 sets of 10 repetitions / 1 min rest
  5. Leg extensions: 3 sets of 10 repetitions / 1 min rest
  6. Side planks: 3 sets of [20 seconds left, 20 seconds right] / 30 seconds rest
  7. Glute bridge: 3 sets of 10 repetitions / 1 min rest

If you find yourself tight for time, then you can pair the exercises to make use of the rest periods, e.g:

  • [squats + plank] / 2m30s rest
  • [tricep dips + leg extensions] / no rest
  • [side planks + glute bridge] / no rest

That’s it for now – try to include these exercises 2-3 times per week and you will start to see improvements quite quickly!

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