The Best Low-Impact Exercises You Can Use to Cross-Train for Biking


From: Bicycling

While riding is our favorite form of exercise, it’s important to mix things up a little, and there may be times when you just aren’t able to fit in a ride. Cross-training not only helps enhance your cycling-specific performance, but it also strengthens muscles you don’t normally use on the bike, which is important for preventing injury.

“We tend to want to specialize and spend so much time on our bikes,” says Menachem Brodie, cycling coach at Human Vortex Training. “But cross training works your body, muscles, and connective tissues in a way that’s different from what we get on the bike.”

Cross-training is especially important the older you get, says Brodie. That’s because as you age, the range of motion in your joints start to decrease, and you start to slowly lose muscle mass. Total-body workouts and resistance training can help combat this.

That said, not everyone wants to cross-train at a high intensity (think: CrossFit), so we turned to Brodie to recommend a few exercises that are lower impact. His advice?

“Find something that works for you, be aware of your body, start out small, and be okay taking a break if you feel like you’re starting to struggle,” he says. “And take the time to learn proper technique so you don’t hurt yourself.”

To help you get started, we’ve gathered up six low-impact exercises that you can use to cross-train.

1. Kettlebell Swing

Using kettlebells in a workout is easy and different, says Brodie. “It makes strength training accessible and teaches you to regulate tension in the muscles that you’re working and relax the ones you aren’t—no matter what weight you’re using.”

Kettlebell swings teach you to use your glutes properly, which are used when you’re sprinting and climbing, Brodie says. Strong glutes can also help prevent back pain and increase mobility in your hips.

2. Goblet Squat

Goblet squats, where you hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in front of your chest while doing deep squats. They are a total-body movement that help strengthen your glutes, quads, abs, arms, and even your grip strength (a stronger grip on your handlebars means better control). These are also good for your cardiovascular system, says Brodie, which is important when it comes to being able to endure long rides and power up hills.

3. Around the World

Here, you’re using your shoulders and arms to move the kettlebell around your body. This is mainly a shoulder stability exercise, says Brodie, which helps maintain good posture. Posture is something many cyclists struggle with due to the hunched over position you have on the bike. This exercise also works well as a warm-up for an upper body strength workout.

4. Barbell Hip Thrust

Strong hip flexors aid your quads in being able to push your bike pedals down and pull them up. And if we don’t regularly work these muscles, they get tight really easily from sitting all day at work, and sitting on a bike, which is where barbell hip thrusts come into play. Brodie stresses the importance of keeping your chin tucked down while doing these to protect your back.

5. Suitcase Carry

Incorporating a suitcase carry (or also known as a farmer’s walk) into your cross-training routine is important for climbing, sprinting, and long rides, according to Brodie. That’s because you’re using all of your core muscles, which are essential for cycling, since any and every motion starts with a strong and stable core.

[Looking to start cross training but don’t know where to start? The Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training will teach you all the fundamentals to get the most out of your weight session, priming you for stronger miles in the saddle.]

6. Hiking, Snowshoeing, or Cross-Country Skiing

Getty ImagesWestend61

If you’re someone who prefers being outdoors more, hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing are three great activities that give you a total-body workout. Plus, they all help boost your endurance, Brodie says, which is essential for those long, hilly rides.


Editor-in-Chief and founder of Web developer for the stars of CrossFit, and all-around fitness enthusiast and fan.

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