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Cross- and compensatory training for cyclists: these workouts make sense

09.02.2021

Off-bike winter training: Which cross- and compensatory training options are the best for road cyclists when it is cold and wet outside?

Off-bike training in winter: When it gets cold and wet outside, many road cyclists ask themselves the following questions: Are there useful alternatives to training on the road bike? Which options are suitable for compensating physical deficits? Alpecin Cycling provides answers to these questions.

There are hardly any alternatives to cycling

Cross-training for cyclists – sports scientist Björn Geesmann from HYCYS thinks little of it. “Especially for hobby cyclists the best way to boost their cycling performance is cycling,” he says.

“This does not apply for professionals. But in order to be as efficient as possible, hobby athletes should stick to their discipline,” he explains. This is, because acquiring the skills for a new sport like swimming or cross-country skiing simply takes too much time. And even many professionals struggle with joint pain when they switch to running and have sore muscles due to the unfamiliar movements and the strain on the musculoskeletal system caused by having to carry their entire body weight.

“If you are already experienced in an endurance-based cross option to your main discipline, because you’ve been doing it your whole life, then of course you can increase the overall training scope with such sessions,” says Geesmann. However, especially with running, it makes sense to include it in your training all year round.

For those who are “mono-sport athletes” he recommends using the available time to ride a bike, i.e., any bike: road bike, gravel bike, cyclocross bike or to climb on an indoor trainer. “This all contributes to cycling-specific training,” says Geesmann.

Compensatory training: stabilising the core

And what about compensatory training? “I see great potential there – for everyone. I recommend anyone who can spare time to work on their flexibility and core stability,” he advises. It does not only improve posture on the office chair and the bike saddle, but also avoids overloads and injuries and even improves power transmission to the pedal.

Athletes may choose whatever they like best – yoga, pilates, TRX, spinal gymnastics, functional or core training – as long as they are executed correctly. Less is often better. A repertoire of five to eight different exercises – that the athlete should do regularly – is sufficient.

Though swimming has the reputation of being good for your back, Geesmann has some reservations: “A good swimming technique requires a stable water position and thus well-trained core muscles. Therefore, only athletes with swim skills should opt for the pool for back training. Worst case, breaststroke swimming may cause pain in the lower back and neck area.”

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