It is common knowledge that muscle imbalance leads to dysfunctional movement and inefficient energy output. This article explores how working muscle balance through exercises such as Pilates can give cyclists more power and energy reserve to push longer and harder on their rides.
Cycling works on a unilateral plane — frontal plane, meaning the movement of the legs and hips work in a forward motion. The disproportion energy output of cycling builds the body unevenly. The lower half — quadriceps/ thighs, calves, buttocks (gluteus maximus) — becomes strong; while the upper torso — shoulders, pecs, upper and lower back — is notably weaker. As this trend grows so does the muscle imbalance. It is usually obvious through distortion in muscle mass or postural integrity.
The disproportion energy output of cycling builds the body unevenly
Pilates in conjunction with cycling is a great combination on many levels.
A. The ultimate premise of Pilates is working the ‘powerhouse’ — abdominals, buttocks, lower back and hips. Connecting the anatomy trains and working the body globally to draw strength from the abdominals will give cyclists more energy resource and power.
B. Pilates works on multi-dimensional planes: frontal (Coronal), transverse, and sagittal. This means the body is exercised uniformly and without bias.
C. It focuses on lengthening muscles with stretch & resistance training — keeping muscles lean without building bulk.
I am not a cyclist myself, however I do have clients and friends that are part of the lycra-wearing, coffee-drinking, strava-logging adrenalin junkie group. My advise to them is the same as to any exercise enthusiast — a body that moves with better co-ordination, control and strength will equate to more power, energy and speed!