In recent years, cycling has become increasingly popular in the UK thanks to the success of Team GB at the Olympics and British cyclists in the Tour de France.
It’s a relatively easy form of exercise and, as costs for most things increase, a good choice for those looking to cut costs on their commute. Whether you are cycling for pleasure, necessity or as a sport, there are some real benefits to be had from doing Pilates as part of your routine.
Traditionally, the training people have done for cycling has been simple; the more miles, the better the training. However, that really is only part of the bigger picture.
How can Pilates help?
At every level, pilates can really help cyclists. Pilates helps to target the core muscles, and this can help a cyclist be more stable in the saddle, keeping the spine steady whilst the limbs move. This increase in core strength can increase power output, producing more power for less effort and ensuring better posture, which is key when it comes to using less energy to propel the bike forwards.
To quote Sir Bradley Wiggins (who knows what he is talking about when it comes to bikes!), “without a solid core, you can’t transfer power efficiently.”
Improved balance and handling of the bike are achieved through an increase in core strength, something that is great for the safety and performance of cyclists at any level.
Pilates can also help improve the alignment of limbs when moving, improving stability, which can help protect against ankle and knee injuries. As a form of resistance training, Pilates can also help improve the strength of muscles without increasing bulk. This is essential for competitive cyclists who are looking to improve their power-to-weight ratio.
And last but by no means least, Pilates can help to improve posture and flexibility, so it is ideal for counteracting the muscle and postural tightness and imbalances that are part of cycling. Hunching in the saddle can result in tight hip flexors, neck and even upper back issues – Pilates can help to lengthen and stretch these muscles as well as strengthen them, hopefully preventing injury.
Short Pilates sessions can be fitted into any training regime, whether you are on or off-season and the benefits speak for themselves, so it really is a good idea for cyclists to look at the overall health of their body. After all, it is their best weapon when it comes to competitive racing.