Tips on postural strength plus a motivating soundtrack for a 45-minute stationary spin
I’m a relatively new road cyclist and am still not completely comfortable riding around in traffic. When it comes to personal physical safety my motto is overzealous cautiousness.
In that light, I'm a huge fan of bike trainers. I’m building my cycling confidence, form and fitness while remaining totally safe. We currently have a bike trainer on loan from a friend and are trying to decide what type and brand to purchase for ourselves.
We’re really fortunate to have a large patio at our home, part of it covered, so even on a rainy day where I don’t feel like getting wet, I have no excuse not to get out there for a spin.
Cycling is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise and a great, no-impact alternative to running
As with every type of exercise – be it cardio, strength or flexibility training – I think focusing on form, incessantly, especially in the beginning, to create strong and optimal neuromuscular connections is vital.
Put in the time to create the muscle memory for ideal posture, and eventually it will become second-nature (just like playing scales on the piano or perfecting your golf swing).
Strengthen Your Posterior Chain
I discovered a kindred spirit when I discovered Dr Eric Goodman, a California-based chiropractor, speaker (check out his awesome TEDtalk, above), and author of the must-read book Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move With Confidence.
During my years working in a gym, I saw so many people focusing on their fronts, with endless sets of chest presses and crunches. I have nothing against those exercises but I noticed a large imbalance in the number of exercises most people were doing for the front of their bodies versus the back of their bodies, like rows, good mornings, deadlifts, and back extensions.
Because a very large percentage of the work force sits, likely all day at a computer – which creates an imbalance where the muscles in the front of the body (chest, abs, hip flexors) become shorter and tighter, and the muscles in the back of the body (rhomboids, spinal erectors) become longer and weaker – focusing on strengthening the back of the body, or the posterior chain, more than the front of the body is an excellent idea. It's an idea I drill into my clients' heads.
Focusing on strengthening the posterior chain is precisely what Goodman preaches, too. “Foundation training is based on the simple but unique idea that strengthening the posterior chain allows the strong muscles in your back to do their job of supporting the weight of the upper body and propelling movement,” says Goodman.
With personal trainer Peter Park, Goodman “joined forces to develop a series of exercises designed to change destructive movement patterns and build a powerful posterior chain, which begins with a strong lower back.”
Pick up a copy of the book for a detailed explanation of the basic Foundation workout, a moderate and intense workout, bonus exercises, and a foam roller workout (Goodman calls foam rolling the "poor man's massage").
Quick Workout: Postural Strength for Improved Cycling
Check out the video below with Goodman and Park demonstrating a quick workout, aimed at cyclists, for developing postural strength
Spin workout music mix
Click here to check out my latest spin mix, with a nice long warm up followed by a slow and steady climb, sprinkled with a few steep sections. Enjoy!