The cyclist population is one group who will benefit hugely from kettlebell training and in this short article I will explain why.
The riding posture when on the bike is one of flexion, the same as being sat in a chair, keen cyclists can rack up 10-20 hours per week in this position. If the occupation of the cyclist also involves sitting, muscle imbalances can develop if some form of counteracting exercise modality isn’t implemented. Simply doing passive stretches after your ride will do little to prevent it, there are better methods available. Extended periods of time spent in flexion often results in tight hips and forward slumping shoulders. Tight hips can wreak havoc on the spine as the main muscle there the Iliopsoas (a main hip flexor) attachés directly onto the spine. A tight hip can inhibit the gluteus maximus from doing its job to its full capacity, from here compensation patterns can develop which result in quad muscles becoming overly worked and never able to fully recover.
So by not addressing your tight hips, you could be making things much harder for yourself and struggle to improve performance.
Further up stream at the neck, shoulders and chest, the position of the rider creates protracted shoulders, (slumped forward) which puts many of the upper back muscles on stretch. Over time they can become weak. The pec muscles are held in a short position which also feeds into the inhibition of those antagonistic muscles on the rear. This is known as upper cross syndrome and is a big driver of shoulder and/or upper back pain. If you experience a sharp stabbing type pain during long rides, you may have this condition.
To do well in your chosen sport/hobby, you need a strong and well functioning body. Cyclists in particular need a strong back, legs and grip to stay in the saddle and climb the hills hour after hour.
You also don’t want to spend hours in the gym correcting or strengthening these areas. This is where the kettlebell really outshines all other options.
Take for example the one arm kettlebell swing. This one exercise will strengthen those upper back muscles around the shoulder blade, strengthen the glutes which in turn will help loosen the hips up. It will strengthen the core and grip, and prepare the rider for hill climbs due to its anaerobic nature.
If we now add the Turkish Get up, you will further strengthen the muscles of the upper back, plus shoulder complex, strengthen the quads and glutes some more, challenge stability of the hip and shoulder, increase and/or maintain thoracic mobility and loosen up the upper body anterior muscles.
This is with just two exercises, which could be performed for a total of 15 minutes or less to see results from, a couple of times per week!!
The versatility, practicality and efficiency of proper hard-style kettlebell training, can not be beat by any other form of exercise.
Only the best will do when you’re trying to get ahead. Do not accept watered down versions,