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Pilates in Cycling- What are the benefits?

With the Tour De France having just been through the capital I thought it would be fitting to explain how Pilates can benefit cycling whether you’re cycling at elite level, for enjoyment or as part of your commute.
For all cyclists improving efficiency on the bike is key. The more power a cyclist can produce using the minimal amount of effort the faster they can travel for longer. As well as power cyclists need to consider their form on a bike, the longer you are able to maintain good form the more efficient your energy use on the bike will be.

So how will Pilates help with all of the above?

Pilates is a mind-body conditioning exercise programme that targets the deep postural muscles of the abdomen and spine, to improve overall core stability, strength and posture. Pilates will strengthen your local ‘core’ muscle groups which help stabilise you on the bike thus allowing your global ‘power’ muscles to work more efficiently. This can in turn improve power and speed on the bike as well as your handling and balance.

Pilates exercises also work on flexibility and posture, areas in which issues can arise for cyclists due to sustained postures adopted on the bike. Pilates can help to lengthen muscles that often become tight such as your hip flexors the muscles on the front of the hips or keep areas of your spine mobile that can become stiff such as your upper and mid back. Keeping your muscles and spine flexible and improving your strength and general body awareness through Pilates will allow you to avoid injury and improve your overall performance on the bike.

As a Physiotherapist as well as a Pilates instructor I am trained to study the body in detail. This knowledge as well as my passion for sport allows me to tailor Pilates programmes to sports such as cycling to ensure maximum benefit is achieved.

If you would like any further information on Pilates in cycling, or in any other sport, or to book a 1:1 Pilates initial session at 50% off email

“Whilst training for a 120km bike ride around the South Downs, Pilates was the perfect accompaniment, to loosen up and strengthen tired muscles from regular training. Claire was great in working on problem areas, and for me, this contributed massively to a more comfortable and better performance when out on the bike. A great training combination which I benefited enormously from having and certainly prevented any probable injury.
Amber, Insider Publishing

A useful Pilates exercise and stretch that can be useful for cyclists;
Spine Twist

Good for; mobilisation of the thoracic spine (mid back)

Action; Sitting up tall on your seat bones in a comfortable position with arms folded into the ‘cossak’ position. Inhale to prepare. Exhale rotate your spine to the left around a vertical axis keeping your hips facing forward. Inhale to hold the stretch. Exhale rotate your body back to the centre keeping your hips facing forwards.
Tips; Imagine your breastbone as the point of rotation.

Keep your shoulders away from your ears.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Good for; stretching the front of the hips.

Action; To stretch the right hip start in a lunge position with your left leg forward at 90 degrees at the hip and knee and right leg kneeling on the floor. Grow tall through your spine. Imagine tucking your tail bone in and tilting your pelvis backwards. You should feel a stretch across your right hip. Breathe into the stretch and hold for 30 seconds.

N.B You can add in your arms to increase the stretch by taking both hands overhead keeping your shoulders away from your ears and lengthening further up through the spine.
Tips; If you cannot feel the stretch ensure you are activating your glutes by imagining squeezing your bottom muscles.

Repeat each 30 second stretch 3 times to gain enough length through the muscle fibres and tissue.

It’s not just cyclists that can benefit from Pilates- check out this recent article in Men’s Fitness by boxer Andre Ward:

‘Andre Ward’s secret Weapon: Pilates’

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