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As a cyclist myself, I have seen the benefits of off the bike training and how this can improve my performance.

Try these two exercises for better cycling efficiency and power. Foam rolling the IT (iliotibial) band can be an effective way to release tension and reduce tightness in the muscles surrounding the outer thigh and knee. This can help if you find your knee bows inwards during your pedal stroke.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to foam roll your IT band:

1. Lie on your side with the foam roller under your hip. Support your upper body with your forearm, and place the opposite foot on the floor in front of you for stability.

2. Start rolling from the hip down to just above the knee, targeting the outer thigh. Use your forearm and opposite foot to control the pressure and adjust your body position as needed.

3. Perform the foam rolling exercise on both sides, even if one side feels tighter or more uncomfortable. This helps maintain balance and prevent muscle imbalances.

4. If you find a particularly tight or tender spot, pause and hold the pressure on that area for 20-30 seconds. This can help release tension in the muscles.

5. Use your body weight to control the pressure on the foam roller. If you need more intensity, you can stack your legs on top of each other or apply more body weight onto the roller.

6. Avoid rolling directly over joints, especially the knee. Focus on the muscle belly of the IT band.

7. Consistency is key. Incorporate foam rolling into your routine regularly, especially after workouts or on rest days, to help prevent muscle tightness and improve flexibility.

8. If you experience sharp pain or discomfort, stop and reassess your technique. It’s essential to listen to your body and avoid excessive pressure.

The Pilates clam exercise is an effective way to target and strengthen the muscles around your hips, specifically the glutes and outer thighs.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to performing the Pilates clam:

1. Lie on your side with your hips stacked, one on top of the other. Use a resistance band for an extra challenge if you like. Rest on your elbow with your forearm perpendicular to your body. Your legs should be bent at a 90-degree angle at the hips and knees. Your head should be in a neutral position with your spine aligned.

2. Ensure that your spine is in a straight line from your head to your tailbone. Your top hip should not roll backward, and your waist should remain lifted.

3. Place your top hand on your hip or in front of your chest for balance and stability. This will help you maintain control throughout the exercise.

4. Before moving, engage your core muscles. This provides stability and protects your lower back.

5. Keep your heels together and lift your top knee toward the ceiling while maintaining the 90-degree bend in your hips and knees. Open your knee as far as you can comfortably go, creating a clamshell shape with your legs. Pushing your heels together.

6. Focus on controlled and deliberate movements. Avoid using momentum or allowing your pelvis to roll backward. Keep the movement isolated to the hip joint.

7. Once you’ve reached the maximum comfortable range of motion, squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement to further engage the muscles.

8. Lower your top knee back down to the starting position with control, resisting the urge to drop the leg quickly. Maintain the 90-degree angle at your hips and knees.

9. Perform the desired number of repetitions on one side before switching to the other side. Aim for 10-15 repetitions per side, depending on your fitness level.

10. Coordinate your breath with the movement. Inhale as you prepare, exhale as you lift the knee, and inhale as you lower it back down.

Tips: Maintain proper form throughout the exercise, and focus on quality over quantity. Remember to listen to your body, and if you experience pain or discomfort beyond muscle fatigue, stop the exercise and seek guidance from a fitness professional or healthcare provider.

If you have enjoyed these two exercises, why not come and join my eight week Cycling Strength and Flexibility course, £25 for the course, your trail to a stronger cycling body.

If you would like to join the wait list for the next online cycling course opening in March, then email me on hannah@beyondthestudiopilates.co.uk