TOOLBOX: This dynamic warm-up for cyclists could be the best way to create a solid base for your biggest gains as a “real-life” rider with a day job, family and other responsibilities.
The last two parts of this series you learned about the importance of the upper body in power production, why producing the right amount of core stiffness is key in improving power and performance, as well as how to fire the glutes and why just that isn’t enough to help you perform better. You need to use the entire body to create a strong, solid foundation from which to fire that powerful hip.
Hopefully you’ve been following along, and dutifully performing the exercises given while improving your ability to execute each exercise, and once that’s become far easier, looked to add some repetitions to build endurance throughout those movements.
But there’s a problem you, and many other riders, face: you don’t have time for 4 x a week of 60 minute strength sessions to perform each of those workouts described in part 1 and part 2, enough to get results, AND do “regular strength training”.
What’s a budding power center of a rider to do?
I wish I could give you a single answer, but in all truth: It Depends!
Behold: The Power of the Dynamic Warmup
You’ll each have found different levels of difficulty, soreness, and success with each of the aforementioned exercises. Our task today is to design your dynamic warmup for your strength training sessions to help get those “big win” exercises in 3-4 days a week with consistency, building up high-quality movements and motor control patterns over time.
This oft-glazed over or outright omitted portion of a strength training program, is actually where a lot of important work can get done, should you follow the recipe here. The key is not to try to get too much done, to order them properly to get the desired improvements in movement, stability, and mobility within your body, having you finish feeling fresh and ready to roll.
Part 1: Breathing
A great way to buffer between the rest of your life and this workout, is breathwork. It not only allows you to turn your focus inwards and on how your body is feeling, but when done properly and with focus, it can drastically change our inner hormonal environment from one of “fight or flight” from the stressors of work, family, and life, to one of “rest and digest”.
Half kneeling banded lat stretch (with breath)
1 set of 5 breaths a side, 7 seconds in through the nose thinking about filling your body and lower back, 5 seconds out through a relaxed jaw in a “Haaaaaaa”.
Part 2: Now that you’re relaxed, let’s reconnect
Continuing to turn the focus inwards, and allowing you to push out life’s distractions, our next step is to connect with a part of your body that has lost its way a little.
For many riders this would be the glutes.
Prone Glute Activation
1 set of 3 each with a 10-15 second squeeze
Part 3: An exercise to address the biggest challenge first
This exercise shouldn’t be super hard or complex. We want something that should be relatively easy to complete, and allow us to immediately recognize where our body is on that day, for our big focal movement.
For many riders the Wall Scapular Slides are a fantastic place to focus, as it involves the entire body, and really getting in connection with your spine, abdomen, and all important mid-back muscles.
Wall Scap slides
1 set of 10-15
Part 4: Balance, and some dynamic movements for the day
For this, we’ll want to look for some stable ground work that challenges your vestibular system, as well as motor control, to produce movement where you need it, and stiffness or suppleness where they’re needed.
For this article’s example, we’ll say your session is going to be leg-oriented strength, in which case we’ll go with the balancing hip CAR.
Balancing Hip CAR
1 set of 4-6 each side with impeccable movement control and form
Part 5: Full body and 360 degree abdominal hoop challenge
This part of the dynamic warmup can vary significantly, depending on where in the strength training and riding year you are. Seeing as it’s now January, a great exercise for this would be the Quadruped Hip Circles, as they’ll challenge you from tip to toe, and have you sweating bullets- if you’re doing them right!
Quadruped Hip Circles
This should be dialed in to YOUR level of ability to execute this exercise with impeccable form. For beginners, this may be 2-3 repetitions each side with a 5 second rest in between each repetition. For advanced who have fantastic form with this exercise, it could be 1 set of 20-30 repetitions each side.
The underlying foundation for improved performance on the bike, through strength training, is taking the time to learn how to move well, and putting in the consistent work to have purposeful, mindful practices, which ingrain better motor control and better movement patterns.
No dynamic warm-up or strength training program can truly boost performance if care and attention to detail are not paid, or if the ego takes the reins and drives you towards more weight or more repetitions without care for technique.
Make purposeful practice a foundational theme in your strength training, practicing small doses, consistently and with focus on impeccable technique, and you’ll harvest large, regular rewards for the focus and attention you’ve put in.
If you’d like to hang out and learn more about strength training for cycling, join my new free facebook group, and connect with like minded riders from around the globe.