A Balanced Body
Riding with a weak core can be compared to putting a V8 engine inside a balsa wood chassis. You can have all the power in the world but with a weak chassis the power will dissipate elsewhere.
Pilates targets the specific muscles of the abdomen and spine, takes pressure off the superficial muscles and promotes a more stable and efficient torso, to help support you on long rides.
The key to Pilates is that each movement requires proper alignment of the pelvis, which in turn requires subtle torso movements that help strengthen the core body muscles important to cycling: transverse abdominis, rectus abdominis, external and internal oblique and erector spinae. Additional benefits include improved muscle flexibility, posture, and balance.
Pilates is the perfect way to work out even on your rest days and you will notice the benefits on and off the bike.
BENEFITS OF PILATES TO CYCLISTS
Develop and strengthen ankle, knee and hip joints, flexors, extensors and adductors for correct leg alignment and efficient pedal stroke.
Correct alignment and strength in the ankle, knee and hip flexors, extensors and adductors reduces the risk of overuse injuries on these joints.
Quads, hamstrings and calves propel the pedals; strengthen them for greater power output, increased cadence and energy efficiency.
Cyclists need to counter the effects: stretch out hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, quads and glutes continuously to maintain proper body alignment.
Tight glutes, hamstring, hip flexors and quads can result in strain being placed on other body parts and result in pain in those areas, eg lower back.
Very important for the cyclist to maintain good back-health.
Because of the bent-over position on the bike, the back muscles are constantly engaged; thus they need to be strengthened to ensure good support on the bike, endurance and prevent pain or injury.
The back is the solid base against which the leg presses to propel the pedal stroke; the back needs to be strengthened to withstand this constant force.
The back muscles stabilise the pelvis and the spine.
Due to the hunchback nature of riding, cyclists need to stretch the back out, counter-stretch the position on the bike and develop good spinal support to prevent kyphosis.
ARMS AND CHEST
The arms are two of five points in contact with the bike.
Strong arms, shoulders and pecs are essential for controlling the bike when out of the saddle on hill climbs or sprints.
Arms are the foundation for stabilising the body when out of the saddle.
Weak arms, shoulders and chest mean quicker and greater fatigue, which means more energy wastage, poor bike handling and control, and far less endurance on the bike.
Weak arms, chest and shoulders also mean greater pressure is put on other upper body parts such as the neck and back.
A cyclist cannot develop core strength or build solid abs while in the saddle.
Weak abdominals work in hypertrophy to a strong back and can lead to many alignment issues.
Strong abs counter the effects of biking on the body and are the key to core power, stability and control.
The abdomen is a platform for powering the pedals against two large pistons (legs).
Strong abs, obliques and pelvic floor assist in stabilising the body in the saddle for greater energy efficiency and pedal stroke.
Abs support the lower back to prevent back pain and injury.
Abs assist in the breathing process; conditioned abs mean better breathing at v02 max.
The position on the bike means the neck is in a constantly extended position; this can mean strain and pain in the neck.
Strengthening and stretching the neck muscles reduces neck pain.