By Winston Endall
To achieve you maximum performance you need to develop more than just cardiovascular fitness and strong legs. If your core is weak you will be limited in how much power makes it to the pedals. Add to this tight muscles and you have a recipe for mediocre results.
You’ve been putting the time on the bike but your progress has slowed down. You might feel tight in the hamstrings and hips. Your long, hard efforts start to fade as your back gives out. When you stand on hill climbs you fade muscularly before the cardio and legs give out.
So what is the answer?
You could do a core training program and work on your flexibility after every ride. The problem is that will cut down on your riding time. The easy way to improve these areas is to take up Yoga. The combination of poses will stretch and strengthen the muscles with particular emphasis on the hip, legs and core.
Three sessions a week of around 20 minutes will make a huge difference to your riding and how you feel. Not to get all “new age” on you, but yoga unleash inner energy and gets the body aligned. The increased blood flow from Yoga also helps speed up recovery. Scar tissue is broken up and the joints move more freely.
While it is best to sign up for a Yoga class, you can make good progress on your own with Yoga DVDs or online yoga courses. This is the way I started many years ago. I bought Power Yoga by Rodney Yee and started doing it a few times per week. After a couple of weeks I stopped going to the chiropractor as all of my back pain disappeared. After a couple of months I noticed it really improved my riding as tight hamstrings and back pain didn’t flare up on long rides and races.
I have since incorporated Yoga into the training programs of the athletes I coach. Training beats up your body. Yoga keeps it limber and strong and speeds up recovery allowing you to get in more quality training. Yoga will also decrease the chance of injury. To improve your cycling performance you need to make sure you don’t have any weak links. With very little time spent each week, Yoga takes care of two very important pieces of the puzzle and it makes you feel great.
If you are feeling adventurous, sign up for a Bikram hot yoga session each week. This is a long, intense yoga in a hot environment. The heat really loosens up your muscles and you sweat out a lot of toxins.
If you are a cyclist and you aren’t doing Yoga yet, you are missing a great opportunity to increase your performance. Buy a DVD or sign up for a local class and start seeing the difference from the first session.