For the final part of this series we are going to look at the upper body. Upper body..... I’m a cyclist, I use my legs, why do I need upper body exercises. We need to train and strengthen the muscles of our arms, shoulders, back and neck to enable us to better withstand the rigors of XC racing, and allow us to better manoeuvre the bike through tough and testing courses. We need strong arms to act as suspension and to help us lift the front wheel up and over obstacles for example. Ever finished a long ride and your arms, neck or back is in more pain than your legs?
The first exercise we will look at is the Press Up. One of the best, do it anywhere exercises you can do for the muscles of the upper body, specifically the arms, shoulders, chest and core.
Basically lying on your front, hands shoulder width and on your toes, ready to go...
To perform the exercise push up with your hands, remain in neutral spine position (perfectly straight),legs locked out.
Look slightly ahead of yourself, push up until the arms are locked out. Keep the abdominals tense throughout, pause briefly at the fully raised position and then lower slowly under control until your body is just off the floor (lower the better).
Carry on until you have performed the required amount or until your form starts to deteriorate.
I suggest 3 strict sets of 10-15 repetitions.
To regress this exercise it can be performed from a kneeling position, however this takes a considerable core strength gain away.
The next exercise we will look at uses similar muscle groups to the press up and requires use of a chair or step etc and it’s called the Tricep Dip.
Using a chair or bench etc position yourself on your hands which should be facing forwards. Your feet should be flat on the floor, with legs bent to reduce possible stress on the knee joint.
Keep your head up and back as close to the chair or bench, lower yourself down under control by bending the arms until you have a 90 degree bend in the arm or your backside hits the floor, pause briefly at the lowest point and then straighten your arms out raising yourself back up to the start position. This is one repetition.
As above I suggest starting with 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions, making sure your form is correct and you get that full range of movement in the arms.
The final exercise we will look at will strengthen your lower back and neck muscles and is called the Dorsal Raise
Lying flat on your front on the floor with your arms outstretched.
To perform the exercise you should raise one arm and the opposite leg simultaneously approximately 6-12 inches of the floor if possible. Pause at the end of range then lower slowly under control together, and then repeat with the other arm and leg.
Ensure you breathe normally throughout the exercise and perform the repetitions slowly and under control. Again, I suggest a starting rep range of 10-15 (each arm/leg) for 3 complete sets.
All these exercise should be performed slowly and under control. Ensure you breathe normally throughout them and keep a close eye on your form particularly you lower back.
Again, a massive thank you to Jon from JM Fitness and Health for putting this series together. If you’d like more information on the services JM Fitness and Health offer then check out their website, or give Jon a shout via twitter @JMFitnessHealth
Don't forget to check out Part 1: Legs and Part 2: Core