How to injury-proof your hip

3 Exercises to Injury-Proof Your Joints

How to injury-proof your hip

You’re only as strong as your weakest link, and for backpackers, that’s usually the joints. Connective tissues tendons and ligaments are tougher to strengthen than muscle, and injuring them isn’t pretty: Tweaked knees, rolled ankles, and achy hips can be trip-enders. Improve your odds of a pain-free hike by doing these exercises three times a week.

Single-Leg Squat to Heel-Tap

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What Step down to initiate eccentric contraction and simulate downhill motion.
Why Strengthen knees and quads without shortening muscles—or stressing joints.

Reps 15 (each leg) Sets 3 Rest 30 seconds

Stand on one leg on a 6- to 8-inch step or box with both legs straight.

Extend one foot and flex it so your foot makes a right angle with your shin.

With hips level, drop into a single-leg squat to lower your free foot to the floor. Your heel will be slightly forward of your standing foot.

Tap your heel to the floor, then rise slowly, keeping hips level and knees in line with ankles and hips. Repeat for 15 reps, then switch legs.

Make it harder.

Start with an empty pack and add 6 to 7 pounds each week. Work up to the weight you plan to carry on your next big trip. 

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Heel Raises 

What Stay balanced while rising up on the balls of your feet.
Why Develop calf strength and ankle stability to thwart sprains.

Reps 30 Sets 3 Rest 30 seconds

Stand on the balls of your feet on a step or low box with your heels hanging off the edge. The soles of your feet should be parallel to the ground.

Raise your heels until your calf muscles are fully contracted. Maintain even weight on each leg. Avoid rolling to the outside edges of your feet (if you can’t see the inside of your heel when you look down, you’re doing it right).

Lower until your feet are parallel with the floor. Repeat.

Make it harder.

Do them on one leg. Easy? Add a pack loaded with 5 to 10 pounds (add 5 pounds each week until you reach your goal pack weight), or add five reps each week until you can do 50. 

Boulderfield Step-Ups

What Simulate grueling climbs with repeated box steps.
Why Improve hip strength and overall alignment to keep knees and ankles in control.

Reps 15 (each leg) Sets 3 Rest 30 seconds

Stand facing a 6- to 8-inch box . Step onto it with your left leg, pushing through the sole of your foot to a one-legged stand (engage your outer left hip to keep your left knee from collapsing inward).

Follow through with your right leg to a 90-degree bend at the hip and knee.

Pause and hold the raised leg at 90 degrees for a count of two, then step down.

Make it harder.

Add a loaded pack. Still too easy? Raise the step a few inches at a time, up to 3 feet high, or top the box with a pillow—simulating unstable ground will engage and strengthen outer ankle muscles.

Skater Hops

What Maintain control during wide, side-to-side hops.
Why Train your ankle to resist sprains and respond quickly to awkward landings.

Reps As many as possible in 2 minutes
Sets 3 Rest 30 seconds

Set two markers (tape, cones, etc.) on the floor about 3 feet apart.

Stand on your left foot at the left marker. Leading with your right foot, leap laterally toward the right marker. Land on your right foot with the left hovering. (Be sure to land with your hip in line with your knee and your knee over your toes.)

Pause and balance on your right foot, then hop back, leading with your left.

Make it harder.

Go faster, widen the distance between your markers, or increase the time per set by 15 seconds each time you do the circuit. Alternatively, do the exercise on gravel or sand to work smaller stabilizing muscles.

You're Doing it Wrong: Falling Alignment

The natural human tendency is to lean back when standing, pushing the hips forward and the rib cage back. In the gym and on the trail, keep your chest, hips, ankles, and knees stacked vertically to help prevent meniscus stress, lateral hip pain, ankle injuries, and lower back pain.

For example, if you let your knee drop alignment during skater hops (or while stepping down off a boulder), you stress both your knee and ankle, making future sprains more ly. Instead, try to keep the center of your kneecap tracking over your second toe.

It’ll make the exercise harder, but you’ll reap the benefits of improved strength and stability.


Injury-Proof Your Body This Off-Season

How to injury-proof your hip

Your number one priority as a high-level athlete should be to stay injury-free. Your greatest ability is your durability.

An important part of protecting yourself from injury during the season is developing your muscles in the gym before the first whistle blows. In addition to providing power, your muscles act shock absorbers to protect your body.

Ready yourself for the rigors of competition with a full-body progressive strength program this off-season.

When designing your off-season workout schedule, remember to hit all five muscular regions two to three times per week. It may be tempting to specialize in one or two exercises, especially if your coach requires strength tests, but the only way you'll develop the protection you need for the season is to train your entire body.

Your number one priority as a high-level athlete should be to stay injury-free. Your greatest ability is your durability.

An important part of protecting yourself from injury during the season is developing your muscles in the gym before the first whistle blows. In addition to providing power, your muscles act shock absorbers to protect your body.

Ready yourself for the rigors of competition with a full-body progressive strength program this off-season.

When designing your off-season workout schedule, remember to hit all five muscular regions two to three times per week. It may be tempting to specialize in one or two exercises, especially if your coach requires strength tests, but the only way you'll develop the protection you need for the season is to train your entire body.

Five Body Regions

Neck and Traps: The muscles surrounding the neck are often overlooked in training programs. This is a big mistake, because the neck muscles protect the head and spinal column from catastrophic injury. They also dissipate some of the force upon head contact, potentially limiting the effects of concussive and sub-concussive blows.

Hips and Legs: You can't fire a cannon a canoe. Because explosive movements require a firm base of support, you need to remember your lower body if you want to develop upper-body strength and power. Not only will hip and leg workouts help you become more dynamic on the field, they will also lower your chance of serious injury by protecting your hips, knees, and ankles.

Midsection: There's a lot to be said about being strong in the lower back and abdominal region. These muscles serve as a “link” between the upper and lower body and help transfer force. Remember the core in your training, but don't focus on it at the expense of other body parts.

Upper Torso: The chest, shoulders and upper back muscles make up this region, which primarily powers shoulder joint movements. It is tempting to overtrain the upper torso, but remember that the shoulder joint is very delicate and can easily become injured. Balance muscles that push with those that pull.

Arms and Grip: The muscles of the biceps and triceps are not just for show; they help stabilize the elbow and support the shoulder. Since most sports are played with the hands, developing strong hands can be one thing that pushes your game to the next level.

Sample Off-Season Workout

Give your opponents more than they can handle this season by following this or a similar routine, three times a week. Train hard, and never stop trying to increase resistance.


6 Core Exercises to Injury-Proof Your Body

How to injury-proof your hip

Cyclists experience a spectrum of aches and pains—and while they occur all over the body, many of them have a common culprit in poor core strength.

“A weak core may be the common underlying cause of [things ] poor hip stability, but it may manifest as IT band syndrome in one rider, patellar tendonitis in another, and hot foot in still another,” says Jesse Moore, a USA Cycling-certified coach and owner of Moore Performance Coaching in San Francisco.

And while medicine balls and sit-ups are useful ways to improve core strength and prevent these injuries, but you might be surprised to hear that the bike itself is a great tool for this job.

“Many people are getting overly focused on getting into a gym setting to address their core strength and mobility,” Moore says.

     RELATED: The 6 Most Effective Core Exercises for Cyclists

Cyclists miss two things in particular if they spend all their strength-training time in the gym, Moore says. One is that gym routines aren't necessarily specific to on-bike mobility needs.

“Functional core strength isn’t an isolated thing that has to be addressed separate from your primary mode of exercise—from simply doing the thing you are trying to improve at,” he says. The second consideration is simply time. “The vast majority of people are time crunched and need to be prioritizing their time on the bike.

Leave those extensive core and gym routines to the pros.” (Want to reach your on-bike potential? Find the best tips and trick for cycling your way to greatness in the Bicycling Big Book of Training!)

If you want to get stronger by doing the activity you love, read on for a mix of core exercises that allow you to strength train while riding and make the best use of your off-bike time. To save even more time, do the off-bike exercises in your garage or yard before or immediately after your ride. Bonus: You can use your gym-commuting time to get more riding done.

On the Bike: Low-RPM/High-Resistance Drills


Why: This drill improves your core's ability to stabilize your hips, which then allow your legs to exert more force on the pedals.

The slower movement allows you to focus on hip stability and pedaling smoothness. Combined with increased force, this slowness stimulates muscles and connective tissue, increasing their resilience in the range of motion required for cycling and strengthing them against acute or chronic loads that could lead to injury. 

     RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Your Cycling Muscles

How: After a 10- to 30-minute warmup that progresses from very easy to moderate intensity, perform four to eight sets of the following: two- to five-minute intervals, done anywhere from 40- to 70rpm.

Pedal easy for two to five minutes at normal rpm (for most people, this is between 80- and 90rpm) in between for recovery.

Start out doing fewer sets for shorter amounts of time, with sets at the higher end of the rpm range, and then increase number of sets, time per set, and difficulty each week.

Doing as many sets as you can at a high degree of difficulty right the gate “is a surefire way to actually get you injured,” says Moore. “Patience is key here.”

Ride with a very light grip on the bars, relaxing your shoulders and lower back. Don't rock or rely on your upper body to respond to the load, Moore advises; if you end up gripping the bars or realize your upper body is moving, lower the effort until your upper body stays still, and progress from there.

As a next-level challenge, do each set using a different cycling hand position. For true mastery, try keeping one hand behind your back while still holding a straight line.

     RELATED: The Best Way to Improve Your Power and Balance

Off the Bike: Lateral Band Walk

Maria Fuchs/Getty

Why: A lot of cycling injuries can be traced back to week hip stability—especially in the muscles that would normally be used for the lateral movements cycling lacks. Moore s this simple exercise because it can be done anywhere, and helps keep the hips, knees, and ankles tracking in alignment when you pedal hard.

How: Place a resistance band around your ankles and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step your left leg to the left, and allow your right leg to follow. Perform a few sets of 10 steps in each direction: one set straight legged, the second set in a squat position. For an extra challenge, raise your arms above your head.

     RELATED: How to Do Squats and Lunges Without Injuring Yourself

Check out these four core exercises to improve your strength on the bike: 

On the Bike: High-Cadence Drills


Why: In addition to low-cadence drills, cyclists should work to maintain core and hip stability as the legs move fast and free. This drill challenges the brain to coordinate all the muscles involved in pedaling in a fluid and economical way that protects against overuse injuries.

“If coordination and alignment can be maintained in cycling across a broad range of cadences and loads, the rate of injuries should be really low to non-existent,” Moore says, especially because it doesn't have the built-in weight-bearing joint abuse of sports running.

This drill also makes the core work to allow the legs to operate without restriction, which keeps your knees from tracking in an S-shaped pattern and prevents against all kinds of knee injuries. 

     RELATED: 7 Surprising Sources of Cycling Pain

How: Do this drill after low-rpm work or near the end of a workout. Perform this drill for five to 15 minutes at a time, at a cadence of 100 to 120rpm. Start closer to 100rpm, and increase your stroke rate as your form improves over time. As you get better, try doing this drill in every hand position, and with aero bars if you're a time trialist.

As you fatigue the core, you might hear a dead spot over the top of the pedal stroke where you lose tension on the chain, Moore says. If that happens, stop, recover for a minute, and try again.

Off the Bike: Single-Leg Squats


Why: Moore prefers single-leg squats to the standard two-leg version because it address the body's need to compensate for weaknesses on one particular side.

This move is a highly effective core exercise. It offers an extra proprioceptive (body awareness) challenge by recruiting smaller stabilizer muscles that help maintain form and balance. 

Learn the best way to perform a standard squat:

How: Perform two to three bodyweight-only sets of eight to 12 reps on a simple box in the garage, stairs, a curb, or flat ground. Concentrate on driving from the glutes, not the quads. Recruit bigger muscles by sitting back into them rather than getting up over the knee—the same feeling you want to replicate on the bike.

     RELATED: The Best Stretching and Strengthening Moves for Cyclists

On the Bike: One-Legged Pedaling

Andre Schoenherr/Getty

Why: It's really easy in cycling to compensate for weaknesses on one side of the body by using the other, which exposes you to overuse injuries on your dominant side. In this drill, the core is not only heavily recruited to stabilize the rider, as the legs aren't able to do it, but also ensured you don't let one leg slack off!

“This drill is very challenging—borderline torture for some—but is an incredibly effective tool if you invest the energy,” Moore says. 

How: Rest the non-pedaling foot on the frame of the bike or let it dangle loosely next to you. Perform 10-second bursts of pedaling with the other leg, working up to two minutes over months—or even years.

Do this two to four times in a row, going back and forth between the legs with 10 to 30 seconds of easy spinning between them. Start by maintaining your normal cadence and average restistance. Only advanced riders should experiment with using more resistance.

Progress to longer durations when your form is near perfect. 

Once you have some competency, start to play with different hand positions.

     RELATED: The Best-Ever Leg Workout for Cyclists

Off the Bike: Time Trialist's Plank


Why: There are numerous versions of the classic plank exercise, but Moore's favorite is performed in what is essentially a time-trial position. This exercise is tremendously helpful for people who experience neck and shoulder discomfort after longer rides, he adds.

How: Keeping your elbows on the floor, lift your body into a plank pose, resting on your toes and maintaining a neutral spine. Hold for intervals of 30 seconds, or up to three or four minutes for advanced athletes.

     RELATED: 4 Secrets to the Perfect Plank


How To Injury-Proof Your Body

How to injury-proof your hip

Even though everyone has their own personal “weak links” when it comes to muscles, joints, or ligaments that tend to be prone to injury, there are certainly common trouble spots for nearly any active individual.

Many of these trouble spots tend to include the small, supportive muscles that are notoriously neglected during our large motor movements.

These supportive areas include the shoulder's rotator cuff, the outer butt's gluteus medius, the small scapula muscles along the shoulder blades, and the abdominal, hip, and low back region (or “core”).

So how can you address these notoriously weak areas and ensure that you bulletproof your body? In this article, you're going to get two routines to do just that: one longer, more comprehensive workout that you can do in a traditional gym environment, and another shorter workout conducive to quickly performing at home or the office.

You can view any of the exercises you'll find in this article at .com/BenGreenfieldFitness.

Bulletproof Your Body Workout #1

Step 1: Begin with a brief 3-5 minutes of aerobic exercise such as jogging, cycling or elliptical trainer, which simply serves to warm your muscles and make them more pliable. Then continue to a dynamic warm-up that includes a series of arm swings, leg swings and preferably (if available), foam rolling.

1) 8-10 Arm Swings 2) 8-10 Arm Circles 3) 8-10 Side-To-Side Leg Swings 4) 8-10 Front-To-Back Leg Swings 5) 8-10 Hip Flexor Kickouts 6) 30-60 seconds Foam Roller Hamstrings 7) 30-60 seconds Foam Roller Quadriceps

8) 30-60 seconds Foam Roller Calves

Step #2: Complete the following rotator cuff exercises as a circuit, 3-4 times through, with 30-60 seconds rest after each set:

1) Elastic Band or Cable External Rotation, 20-25 reps 2) Elastic Band or Cable External Rotation, 20-25 reps 3) Dumbbell Front Raising, 15-20 reps 4) Dumbbell Side Raising, 15-20 reps 5) Dumbbell Empty Cans, 15-20 reps

6) Dumbbell Uppercuts, 15-20 reps

Step #3: Complete the following gluteus medius and lateral hip strengthening exercises as a circuit, 3-4 times through, with 30-60 seconds rest after each set.

1) Fire Hydrants, 20-25 reps per side 2) Lateral Lunges, 10-12 reps per side

3) Hip Hikes, 10-12 reps per side

Step #4: Complete the following core stabilizing exercises as a circuit, 3-4 times through, with 30-60 seconds rest after each set:

1) Front Plank Taps, 10-15 reps per side 2) Side Plank Rotation, 10-15 reps per side

3) Back Bridges, 20-25 reps

Step #5: Finish by opening the hip flexors with a yoga sequence of 3-5 deep breaths in each of the following positions (or, if you're familiar with sun salutations, simply perform several sequences of those):

1) Warrior 1 2) Warrior 2 3) Warrior 3

4) Down Dog

While this is a longer workout, simply including it once per week during the entire year will help you to move more efficiently while also protecting the common “weak links” of the human body.

Bulletproof Your Body Workout #2

This shorter injury prevention workout is a series of four exercises that you simply perform in sequence.

1) 25-50 Shoulder Wall Slides 2) 25-50 Side Lying Leg Raises per Side 3) 25-50 Broomstick Front Raises (preferably prone on a stability ball)

4) 2.5-5 minutes Front Plank

I guarantee that if you can complete 50, 50, 50 and 5 minutes of the workout above that you will significantly reduce your risk of injury when performing nearly any sport or activity on the face of the planet!

Enjoy these two routines, and if you have questions, feel free to surf over to and leave a question and I'll be happy to answer!

Ben Greenfield is a fitness and triathlon expert and host of the Get-Fit Guy podcast on the Quick and Dirty Tips network. His latest book is Get-Fit Guy's Guide to Achieving Your Ideal Body: A Workout Plan for Your Unique Shape.

For more by Ben Greenfield, click here.

For more on fitness and exercise, click here.


Great Exercises to Keep Your Hips Strong at Home

How to injury-proof your hip

Tetra Images/Getty Images

One of the best ways to keep your hip joints healthy is to work to strengthen the muscles that surround your hips and legs. Hip strengthening exercises are easy to work into your daily routine and can be easily added to your gym workout.

The hip joint is known as a large “ball and socket” joint because the round head of the thigh bone fits into the cup of the pelvis bone. The hip is held in place by strong ligaments and muscles, the gluteus medius.

Hip strengthening exercises can be done as part of a home exercise program. The exercises should be simple to do and should not cause pain. Check in with your doctor before or PT before starting these—or any other—exercise program for your hips.

Review these quick and easy exercises that will target and strengthen the muscles of the hip.

  1. Lie on your right side.
  2. Bend your right leg, and rest your left foot on the ground.
  3. Slowly lift your top leg 2 feet off the ground.
  4. Hold for five seconds, then slowly lower the leg.
  5. Repeat five times, then change legs.

Isometric Gluteus Medius Exercise

  1. Lie on one side.
  2. Place a belt around both ankles.
  3. Lift your top leg up, pressing against the belt while keeping your knee straight.
  4. Hold the position for five seconds.
  5. Repeat 10 times.
  1. Stand up straight.
  2. Lift your right leg off the floor; bend it so that you create a 90-degree angle at the hip.
  3. Hold for five seconds, then slowly lower the leg.
  4. Repeat five times, then change legs.
  1. Stand upright with your back against a wall and feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slowly bend your knees, sliding your back down the wall for a count of five until your knees are bent at a 45-degree angle (do not bend too much further than this as it will cause increased strain on your knees).
  3. Hold this position for five seconds.
  4. Begin straightening your knees for a count of five, sliding up the wall until you are fully upright with knees straight.
  5. Repeat five times.

These exercises can be done three to five times per week; be sure to build in a rest day here or there to allow your hip muscles to recover.

Working to strengthen your knees and ankles can be done as well to be sure you completely work all muscles groups of your lower extremities.

Remember, your ankle and knee muscles help control the position of your hips, just as your hip muscles control the position of your knees and ankles. They all work together in a kinetic chain.

The leg lift and standing hip flexion exercises can be advanced by placing an ankle weight on the legs. Start light and build up gradually over time. Your physical therapist can help you devise the best strategy for this.

Once the exercise becomes easy, you can move on to more advanced hip strengthening exercises. Discontinue if any significant discomfort is experienced, and remember to discuss starting any new exercise program with your physician first.

Working to keep your hips strong can help you maintain balance, keep you walking normally, and help maintain pain-free hips. Check in with your physical therapist, and then get started on hip strengthening exercises.

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Injury free in one hour per week: stretches and strengthening for cyclists

How to injury-proof your hip

“If you want to get fit, ride your bike.” That old saw is true enough, in a rudimentary sense, but it ignores a number of important truths. Riding your bike won’t protect you against injury, nor ensure good full-body condition, nor guard you against developing physical imbalances.

Of course you want to spend as much time as possible on your bike, but a little time in the gym — or working-out at home — is well worth the small investment of time. Here, physio Sam Mak sets a 30-minute circuit that, if completed twice a week, promises to keep you supple, strong and resilient.

What our expert says…

Sam Mak is a chartered physiotherapist at the St James Clinic in London ( specialising in sports performance. He is also an international-level competitor in Wushu (martial arts) and big-screen actor — soon to appear in the forthcoming Tomb Raider movie.

Why do you feel pain when cycling? 

Why do cyclists need to do off-the-bike conditioning?

Cycling is predominantly one motion — pedalling — with a limited range of movement, using the same muscles repeatedly. This can lead to imbalances. Riders assume they can cycle their way to fitness, but it’s not fitness in the holistic sense. If you don’t address imbalances with exercises and conditioning, your injury risk increases.

What are the most common issues in cyclists?

Generally, it’s tightness and stiffness, particularly for cyclists who have desk jobs — they’re always sitting, either on a bike or at their desk. While seated, the hip is in its shortest position, the hip flexors aren’t worked, meaning they can get really tight, ditto the hamstrings.

As a martial artist, you need flexibility, but is it really important for cyclists?

It’s true that the range of motion needed in cycling is relatively limited. But what you need to look at is how a lack of flexibility will impact upon your biomechanics.

If you’re particularly tight in one area, it’ll have a knock-on effect in another area, which can make you susceptible to injury. Having poor flexibility also hampers your ability to hold an aerodynamic riding position.

Most cyclists treasure their precious time. How do you convince them that this type of workout is really worthwhile?

Prevention is better than cure. A little time invested regularly means you’ll avoid time off the bike with injuries. What’s more, you need a strong core for stability — in order to transfer power efficiently to the pedals. To really develop that strength, you need to isolate certain muscles and develop them specifically.

The circuit

Stretching and core strength is important for cyclists when it comes to injury prevention

The warm-up

Perform a simple 10-20 minute warm-up by spinning on a static bike, jogging gently on a treadmill, doing a few star jumps, or by doing a series of slow, controlled squats and lunges — or any combination thereof.

Key guidelines– Focus on form, getting the exercise right technically and controlling your movement.– Take 20 seconds rest between each set.– Complete two circuits — each should take around 10 minutes.– Do this workout twice a week to injury-proof your body.

– Rep range/holds are flexible to suit fitness of individual — add or subtract accordingly.

Glossary: contraction typesEccentric exercise/contractionThis is where a muscle is actively lengthening under load. Found to be beneficial for tendinopathy injuries.Concentric exercise/contractionIn this type of movement, the muscle shortens under load/contraction.Isometric exercise/contractionIsometric means the musclefibres are actively contracting

without any change in joint angle or muscle length.

Bulgarian Split Squats

How many?
10-12 reps (on each leg)

Instructions:– Rest one foot on bench/seat at approximately knee height.– Assume forward lunge position, keeping the body upright, hips square with rear foot resting on bench.– Lower the front leg to 90 degrees, keeping the knee aligned with the foot.

– Drive up through the heel to straighten the knee back to starting position.

Muscles targeted:– Quadriceps– Gluteus maximus

– Hamstrings

Progress to the next level…
Try destabilised squats by using an unstable surface such as gym ball.

Sam Mak says:
This is a unilateral or single-leg exercise. Bear in mind, when you’re on the bike, you’re extending one leg at a time — and so this exercise is very cycling-relevant.

It develops strength and also knee stability, controlling your knee direction, making sure it doesn’t buckle inwards (valgus collapse), which is a common cause of knee injury.

Master this exercise and you’ll safeguard good quad function and stabilise knee joints.


How many?
10-15 reps

Instructions:– Hands below the shoulder, slightly wider than shoulder-width.– Shoulder, hip and ankles in a straight line.– Bend elbow to lower chest to just above the floor, keeping the elbows close to the chest.

– Push back up to start position.

Muscles targeted:– Pectoralis major– Triceps brachii– Anterior deltoids

– Core stabilisers (rectus abdominals and obliques).

Progress to the next level…Push up and descend more slowly.Raise feet to add weight on upper body.

Change hand position — on knuckles, known as diamond (triceps) push-ups.

Sam Mak says:
Press-ups are another functional compound exercise, this time for the upper body.

Keep the elbows tucked in, so you’re working the triceps more and to reduce the risk of injury to the shoulders. Keeping your core tight and body straight, aim to be control the movement.

The press-up is a whole-body exercise, so you’re working your upper body, lower body and core.

Romanian Dead Lift

How many?
10-12 reps

Instructions:– Feet shoulder-width apart, chest up, slight curve in lower back, knees slightly bent.– Tighten the core and slowly bend at the hips (hip-hinge), making sure the lower back does not move by pushing the bum out backwards.

– At the point you reach the limit of hamstring range, reverse the movement back to the starting position.

Muscles targeted:– Hamstrings– Glutes

– Spinal erectors

Progress to the next level…Add weight by holding a dumbbell, kettle bell or bar

Stand on a box to go beyond normal range.

Sam Mak says:
The Romanian Dead Lifts is great because it works your hamstrings. Research suggests it prevents tendonopathies — the most common type of injury — so it’s well worth mastering. This exercise works the hamstrings through the full range, and it’s one of my favourite exercises.


How many?
30-40sec hold

Instructions:– Place the forearms on the ground, elbows shoulder-width apart directly under the shoulder and parallel to the body.– Push up and hold the body in a straight line (head, shoulders, backside, lower legs).

– Tighten the core by pulling the belly button in towards the spine (without curving the back) and tightening the glutes.

Muscles targeted:– Core muscles: transverse abdominals, internal/external obliques– Gluteals (maximus, minimus, medius)

– Quads, hamstrings, back extensors

Progress to the next level…Place palms on floor, arms straight.Perform side plank variant.Raise feet, balancing them on a Swiss ball.

Lift opposite arm/leg.

Sam Mak says:
A classic core exercise, the plank relies on an isometric static contraction, working the core and gluteus areas efficiently to develop functional stability. Mastering the plank will mean that when you’re on the bike, you’ll be better able to produce power from the core, keeping yourself solid on the bike.


How many?
10-15 reps

Instructions:– Lie on floor with knees bent roughly 90 degrees, feet flat and arms by your side.– Lift hips up off the floor until the knees, hips and shoulder are in a straight line.– Squeeze glutes and tighten core to prevent excessive load through the back

– Hold for 2-3sec for isometric contraction, then slowly relax.

Muscles targeted:– Gluteus maximus

– Hamstrings

Progress to the next level…
Try gym ball bridges — balancing feet on gym ball — or single-leg bridge, or weighted variant, holding dumbbells

Sam Mak says:
The Bridge is another very functional compound movement for the legs, also working the back and core. This is highly relevant to cycling, as on the bike you’re never isolating a single movement — there’s always lots of stuff going on! Make sure you perform this exercise correctly and carefully so as to avoid excessive strain on the back.

Russian core twists

How many?
10 reps

Instructions:– Sit on floor with the knees bent– Lean back to roughly 45 degrees, keeping back straight.– With both hands in front of the chest, tighten the core and lift both legs off the floor.– Rotate arms to one side, touching the floor around waist level, then twist to the opposite side in the same

motion (= one rep).

Muscles targeted:– Internal/external obliques

– Rectus abdominals.

Progress to the next level…
Try gym ball core twists or weighted core twists using dumbbell or kettlebell.

Sam Mak says:
This is another dynamic core exercise, only this time you’re starting to work the obliques harder — muscles on the sides of the core. Strength in this area helps prevent rocking from side to side while riding, meaning less power wasted. Stabilising lateral movement in this way is fundamental to maintaining good form on the bike.

Body-weighted squats

How many?
10-15 reps

Instructions:– Feet shoulder-width apart.– Head forward, chest up.– Sit back and down as if onto an imaginary chair. Arch your back slightly as you descend.– Lower thighs to 90 degrees, keeping knees over your toes and weight in the heels (eccentric contraction).

– Drive through the heels to stand up again

Muscles targeted:– Quadriceps– Gluteus maximus

– Hamstrings

Progress to the next level…
Tougher variants are the Goblet squat (holding dumbbell/kettlebell) Barbell front/back squat.

Sam Mak says:
The squat is a compound exercise, meaning it engages multiple muscle groups. Although it’s focusing on the lower legs, hips and back, it’s a very functional movement, working your quadriceps, gluteus, and ankle range of movement — all very important for a cyclist. Squatting is a great way to build up motor pathways and muscle action in critical joints.

Stretches for cyclists

The evidence on stretching is mixed, with no clear consensus about its usefulness. Nonetheless, Sam Mak insists that a streamlined, targeted stretching programme is worthwhile: “Static stretches are best performed after exercise, whereas dynamic stretches are preferable as warm-up.

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“Once the muscles are nice and warm after exercise, there is less risk of injury. I believe stretching is important to maintain the pliability of the muscle, how well it’s able to move, extend and contract.”

Lunge hip flexor stretch

30-second hold

Instructions:– Start a wide forward lunge position with rear knee on the floor, front foot flat on the floor, slightly bent.– Place hands on front thigh and push hips forward until the stretch is felt in the opposite hip.

– Keeps hips square throughout the movement.

Sam Mak says:
The classic lunge stretches your hip flexors, which are prone to getting very tight in cyclists because of the seated position, in which you never really get your hip into extension. It’s important to stretch the hip flexors because they control pelvic movement and function; if too tight, they can pull down on the hip and cause problems.

Piriformis stretch

30-second hold

Instructions:– Lying on back, put foot to be stretched above the knee of the opposite leg.

– Bend opposite leg towards the chest, using your hand holding the back of the thigh to pull towards the chest.

Sam Mak says:
The piriformis and gluteus are muscles associated with lower back pain and sciatica, so it’s important to stretch them. Importantly, the piriformis — a small muscle low in the hip — controls hip and lower back movement but is not often stretched in normal movement or day-to-day activities. So, this is a really useful stretch.

Hamstring stretch

30-second hold

Instructions:– Place one foot on a chair/box in front of you.– Keeping back straight and hips square, slowly lean forwards towards the foot. Think about leading with the chin to keep the back straight.

– Feel the stretch in the back of the leg.

Sam Mak says:
The hamstrings of cyclists are liable to get very tight because of the lack of extension and range required by the pedalling movement. If they are too tight, the limitation can effect your power distribution and pedalling efficiency. A good range of movement in the hamstrings can have a big impact in performance.

Downward dog

30-second hold

Instructions:– Start on hands and knees, in a push-up position.– Slowly push the pelvis up towards the ceiling, keeping the arms straight and breathing out during the movement.

– Be aware of any back/sciatic pains — consult a professional if in doubt.

Sam Mak says:
This yoga pose is a great stretch to cap your session, aiding flexibility in the back and upper body, but it’s important to get it right. It’s a great exercise for the shoulders and the back, and even gets your calves involved too.