Get more from the body's most powerful muscle group.
So, your glutes are not firing, or so you have been told? Been for a bike fit and changes were made, but still feel choppy and quads are fatiguing fast? Perhaps you have been to the gym and performed countless “reps” of glute strengthening exercises without feeling that the gains have transferred to the bike?
Well, each of these scenarios are quite common and if one or all applies to you, then read on;
1. Get set up correctly. Although bikefit is not, in itself, a total solution for balanced muscle action, it is certainly a whole lot more difficult from a poor setup. Be sure to do some research and read some reviews before selecting a bike-fitting professional. This service is very important to both your health and cycling performance and therefore critical that it is done well.
2. Head to the gym. Strength (and strength endurance) training are very important but must be applied using a well-considered, progressive plan. So be sure to seek out some expertise here, whether it is a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, physiotherapist or other qualified and experienced professional. Not all strength training plans are created equal and success will be determined by how specific and applied your training sessions are. Many cycling coaches work closely with strength & conditioning practitioners (or exercise physiologists) and this is the preferred model where both experts coordinate the strategy and avoid working counter-productively.
Much of the strength and conditioning focus should be on the following areas:
Note: Dynamic flexibility (stretching) is also very important and should always be included as part of the strength and conditioning plan.
3. Learn & apply postural / movement cues. This is the critical step for transferring your strength to the motion of pedalling. It is folly to think that just because you are stronger in the gym, you will automatically carry this new capacity to your riding, if only it were that “easy”. Equally, a perfect setup on the bike is not that useful if a poor motor pattern continues, just as a great motor pattern can be eroded by a poor set-up. If you have been fitted by a professional and have worked through an effective strength training plan, it is time to take it to the bike (although the perfect scenario is to apply this step simultaneously with step two).
Start with developing a routine and some cues that work for you in terms of setting up a position and stable base from which to engage the glutes. From here you will be able to create a postural and movement focus that is reliable and repeatable. These are the key stages:
4. Use drills. These are used to enhance and solidify the motor pattern for your new pedal stroke. Some examples include:
5. Be patient and stick to a plan. The bottom line is that building a new and improved motor pattern will take some time. So, make a plan that incorporates a little technical training. Once you have a plan, stick to it diligently and be prepared for moments where you feel progress has become a little stagnated, this is normal. Depending on consistency and skill acquisition rates, you can expect to see / feel some improvement in your pedal stroke in around 3-6 weeks. Of course, a new more dependable technique that holds up under pressure will take a little more time and (here is that word again) patience.
Technical training / drills are usually best applied during recovery rides / easy spins / stationary bike work.