We all know that in order to make gains on the bike, you have to get in gear off the bike. That’s where strength and mobility work come into play. For cyclists, these modalities “can improve your power and endurance, help maintain balance in the body, and help reduce the risk of injury,” explains Frank Baptiste, a certified strength and conditioning coach, cyclist, and creator of this workout. Specifically, he says, cyclists need to focus on lower body single-leg strength, hip mobility, and core stability.
A great way to loosen up and strengthen your muscles at the same time: use gliders. We’re talking about those little frisbee-looking discs you’ve likely seen at your local gym. Despite looking flimsy, they’re actually a versatile training tool that can help you switch up traditional bodyweight exercises, as well as make classic exercises (think mountain climbers, lunges, and pike-ups) much more challenging. That’s all thanks to the stability component they add to each move.
Essentially, glider exercises take your workout to the next level intensity-wise without all the wear and tear on your body, because they test your strength in low-impact way.
“One of the benefits [of glider workouts] is greater muscle engagement,” says Baptiste, who is a fan of Synergee Sliders. (Psst, we love the Sklz Slidez, too.) “Sliding with control recruits stabilizing muscles and requires dynamic core stability and inter-muscular coordination, making gliders great for improving both. You’ll also challenge eccentric strength and flexibility, as you’ll need to control the end range of motion [of each exercise].”
This particular glider workout, curated with cyclists in mind, will help you feel strong, ride fast, and power up hills. If you don’t have gliders, no worries. You can easily use a towel, socks, or even paper plates on a slick surface. You just need to be able to create that sliding motion.
How to use this list: Aim to do this five-move circuit 2 to 3 times per week. Do each exercise for the number of reps listed below and repeat the full circuit a total of 3 times. Each move is demonstrated by Baptiste, so you can master the proper form. You will need a set of gliders (or glider substitute). An exercise mat is optional.
Also, don’t let these exercises fool you: As you work your way through them, you are really going to feel the burn. Embrace it, though—it all pays off in better performance on the bike.
Low Lunge Twist
Why you need it: “Powerful quads make for a strong cyclist, and this move targets them directly while actively stretching the hip flexors,” Baptiste says. You get that stretch in the hip flexors from the twisting motion, which also offers healthy movement through the thoracic (or upper) spine. And the reason you want more mobility through those hip flexors? Being able to achieve full hip extension means the glutes can effectively do their job and power you through your rides.
How to do it: Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart, a glider under right foot and hands clasped in front of chest, elbows out to the sides. Slide right foot back as you bend the left knee, lowering down until you create a 90-degree angle in left knee. Try to keep right leg as straight as possible and the glute engaged so you get a big stretch in the hip flexor of the back right leg. Holding the lunge, twist your torso toward front left leg. Return torso to center. Then, press into the heel of left leg and slide right leg back up as you return to standing. This is one rep. Repeat for 12 reps. Then switch sides.
Single-Arm Push-Up With Slide Out
Why you need it: This move works your upper body pushing muscles—chest, shoulders, triceps—and is a major core challenger. “Improving your core strength will allow for greater transfer of force while also helping reduce the risk of back injuries,” says Baptiste. Plus, you get an active stretch in the lats (muscles of the back) during the eccentric phase (when you push your arm out). Also, “as the shoulder reaches full flexion overhead, you extend the upper back and open up the shoulders to counteract the hunched position on the bike,” Baptiste says.
How to do it: Get into a push-up position with feet hip-width apart, pelvis neutral, elbows relatively close to the rib cage, wrist stacked under shoulders and right hand on a glider (To make this move easier, get into a modified push-up position with knees on the ground.) Engage core and lower down to the bottom of a push-up by bending left elbow and simultaneously sliding right hand forward, extending right arm out in front of you and overhead. Lower down as far as possible while still maintaining a straight spine. Pull right arm back in as you push your body back up to starting position. This is one rep. Repeat for 8 reps. Then switch sides.
Curtsy Lunge to Lateral Lunge
Why you need it: This shores up your lower body strength, targeting not only the quads, but all the muscles of the lower body including the muscles that abduct (namely, outer thighs), adduct (mainly inner thighs), and rotate the hips, stabilizing the knee from multiple angles while also mobilizing the hips, Baptiste says. The result: more power and stabilization on the bike.
How to do it: Stand tall with feet hip-width apart and right foot on glider. Keeping torso upright, bend knees as you begin sliding right foot backwards, crossing it diagonally behind left leg. Bend both knees and lower down until left thigh is as close to parallel to the floor as possible. Reverse motion, sliding right leg forward to stand up. Next, keep chest upright and immediately slide right foot out to the right side, keeping right leg straight as you bend left knee and send hips back. Drive left foot into floor and slide the right leg back in to stand up and return to starting position. This is one rep. Repeat for 8 reps. Then switch sides.
Why you need it: Cyclists often neglect their hamstrings, but you need to pay attention. Stronger hamstrings mean more power in your pedal stroke, and they balance out the strength of your quads for more efficient riding, Baptiste says.
How to do it: Lie faceup with knees bent, both heels on gliders and arms down by sides. With core engaged, lift hips into a glute bridge forming a straight line from shoulders to knees. Keeping hips lifted, slide heels away from body until legs are straight, knees soft. Then slowly slide feet back to the starting position. This is one rep. Repeat for 15 reps.
Why you need it: This killer core move is a progression on a standard plank, says Baptiste, challenging core stability and anti-extension to keep the low back from sagging and straining the lumbar spine. Even better: “A stronger core means less wasted energy on the bike as you are able to transfer more force through your trunk,” Baptiste adds.
How to do it: Start in a forearm plank with elbows directly under shoulders and toes on a set of gliders. Tuck your tailbone toward the floor, engage core, and slide body as far back as possible, shoulders extending behind elbows, while maintaining one straight line with body. Pause for one second, then slowly pull body forward to starting position. This is one rep. Repeat for 15 reps.