Health and Fitness

Studio Pilates Performance Series: Cycling

Improve your speed, strength + endurance

Training to improve your cycling does not necessarily equate to more time in the saddle. Pilates can dramatically assist your athletic performance and offers the perfect training complement to your cycling, whether your focus is fitness based, competitive or for technical development. Studio Pilates delivers intense, 40 minute workouts on Pilates reformers in a small group environment that feels more like a personal training session, with our world class instructors modifying your moves for maximum gain.

Unlike cycling, Pilates is a whole-body workout, focusing on strength, mobility, endurance, body alignment and breath control. It offers physical and mental fitness and can help reverse some of the problems that specialised sports can create. Each class is scientifically designed by physiotherapists, to ensure safe and considered movements sequenced in a particular way to give you the results you want, fast! We work your body on all planes of movement – sitting, lying and standing – so that the muscles are worked from many different directions, producing a uniform and very deep strength and tone, even without using heavy weights.

Strong legs and lungs are not the only things needed for a fast ride. A cyclist will benefit from a strong core and back, a stable pelvis and proper body alignment. Among the main rewards of cross training with Pilates are greater effectiveness of the pedal stroke, improved balance, more efficient recovery of leg muscles, better endurance through focused breathing, and correction of muscle imbalances. Pilates also provides a great active recovery session, shifting toxins and lactic acid.

 

Performance benefits

Postural alignment and muscular balance: Cyclists spend a lot of their time in a position that, while aiding aerodynamics, wreaks havoc with the skeletal system. The lumbar spine rounds excessively, hips and pelvis rotate forwards, the back of the neck shortens, and when fatigued, all the weight falls to the arms and deltoids. Added to that, most cyclists have shortened hamstrings, and tight calves, hip flexors, iliotibial band and lower back muscles.

Pilates provides a lot of extension-based exercises that counteract the predominantly flexed posture of a cyclist. Its focus on muscular balance and postural alignment translates to more efficient performance on the bike, and helps decrease the chances of obtaining hip, back and shoulder problems that are all too common with cyclists. It also establishes cues to help fire the muscles surrounding the diaphragm, spine, ribs and hips for improved balance and stability, minimising falls and creating a strong foundation from which to cycle efficiently.

Pelvic stability: Many Pilates exercises increase pelvic stability, which helps the bigger, prime moving muscles of the legs apply larger forces through the bike with better efficiency, leading to faster rides over longer periods of time. Pelvic stability also helps reduce the risk of cycling injuries, such as lower back pain, hip bursitis, knee pain, and even ankle and foot pain.

Core: Pilates has a substantial focus on the transverse abdominis (TA), an important part of the abdominal wall. In conjunction with the obliques and rectus abdominis, the TA provides great support for the spine, in particular the lower back (the first area to fatigue over a long ride or time trial), with overall strength and conditioning not only producing a strong abdomen, but the powerful stabilising muscles in the mid back, chest and glutes. Core strength will help transfer more power to the pedals as it is coming from the centre, or ‘powerhouse’, of the body, providing a strong platform for the lower body to push against, as well as setting you up with the right stability for both sprints and long sessions out on the road.

Muscle conditioning, control and strength: Supporting and strengthening the muscles of the torso, hips, shoulders and pelvis has a big impact on stamina, power, balance and stability. Leg strength is improved through regular hypertrophy work, providing muscular stimulation to improve cycle stroke, without adding undesirable bulk to the upper body. Back muscles are developed evenly and the spine is elongated and aligned for better stability, allowing for more efficient uphill and downhill rides. A focus on proper movement allows for better kinaesthetic awareness – both on and off the bike – helping shave time off your ride, due to less fatigue on the body and more efficient and powerful movement.

Flexibility and control: Pilates helps counter cyclists’ overworked hip flexors and rounded spine and shoulders, which cause a lot of flexibility and balance issues. The lengthening of muscles – especially hip flexors, hamstrings and quadriceps – improves range of motion and reduces strain on ligaments and joints and the likelihood of leg and torso injuries.