As the Winter months settle in, ‘cross comes to an end, daylight is scarce, and outside rides get harder and harder, it’s the perfect time to move indoors for strength and conditioning training. But unless you have a strong background in biomechanics or exercise science, selecting exercises to do (or not do) can be difficult, intimidating, ineffective, or dangerous. To make the most of both off-season and in-season strength and conditioning, think about the following principles to help guide your workouts.
- Pick exercises that enhance performance. Seems obvious, right? This is the clearest decision for all athletes. If your sport requires strong glutes, then pick exercises that use the glutes in the same range of motion as your sport. Add weights, increase reps, or drop rest to add intensity. Step Ups, Lunges, Squats are classic exercises for runners and cyclist because they stress the muscles in same range of motion as the sport does.
- Pick exercises that decrease risk of injury. This is where some more advanced guidance comes in. Chances are if you’re reading this you are an endurance athlete and thus work consistently in one plane of motion (sagittal). In order to stabilize motions in that plane, you’ll need to develop strength in the frontal plane (side to side) and transverse plane (rotation) as well. Side planks, med ball twists, push ups and wide elbow rows, and lateral lunges all stress the body in different planes of motion than they may be used to. Balancing major joints and muscle groups with movements in all-three planes of motion can help reduce the risk of injury.
- Pick exercises that improve posture. Core exercises and shoulder girdle strength both help to improve posture during running and cycling and should be incorporated into any balanced strength and conditioning program. Planks, posterior flies, Bird Dogs, back extensions with a stability ball, and shoulder blade press-ups can all help improve posture and thus reduce fatigue over long workouts and races, improve breathing, and increase comfort.
It’s not easy to come up with exercises that do everything mentioned about above. And it’s tricky to know how to periodize strength training with your season much the same way you would intervals on your bike or hill repeats when running. The coaches at Upper Echelon can help you add variety, balance, and proper mechanics to your strength workouts so you get the most out of your workouts and body.
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