Quick Upper Body Workout For Cyclists

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Try this short and effective upper body workout for cyclists taken from the Beyond CC strength training programme. It can be completed in as little as 15 minutes – with a short warm up and cool down.

Quick Upper Body Workout For Cyclists

When most people think about cycling, well, firstly they don’t even consider off bike workouts or strength training but if they do, they typically think about training legs. However, upper body workouts for cyclists are important – Improving your upper body strength will allow you to hold a better position on the bike.

My own personal weekly training plan sees me complete 2-3 30minute strength sessions; 2 are core focused and the other is either full body or like this workout, focused on one specific area.

BEYOND Strength Training For Cyclists

BEYOND Strength Training For Cyclists

As part of the Beyond CC community I created with fellow cycling coach Alison Woods, I created a series of off-bike exercises for our cyclists to build strength.

The first phase of our strength sessions focused on fundamental movements, ensuring each rider has nailed the basic form, before progressing to adding weight / resistance and then finishing with a short circuit workout.

The upper body circuit that I’ve shared below is taken from one of the BEYOND Strength workouts I created for cyclists where we worked on technique before hitting the circuit.

More Strength Training For Cyclists:

Best Upper Body Workout For Cyclists

This workout was created to include both ‘push’ and ‘pull’ exercises, focusing on upper body strength.

With just 30mins per session in the first phase of our strength programme we completed 2 sets of the exercises, working for 30seconds with 10seconds in between each exercise.

Here are some options of timings you can use:

  • 30seconds work / 10seconds rest
  • 40seconds work / 20seconds rest
  • 50seconds work / 10seconds rest
  • 60seconds work / 30seconds rest

The weights I’m using are the 6kg rose gold dumbbells from Etté Athletica. You won’t need any other equipment, other than a mat for comfort when laying on the ground.

The Upper body STRENGTH Exercises:

  • Bent over rows
  • Chest press
  • Bicep curls
  • Dumbbell thrusters
  • Skull crushers

It’s best to complete a short warm up before starting the session. You can use these 5 dynamic exercises to warm up – we complete 1-2 sets in Beyond Strength.

Bent Over Rows

Start by stand with feet hip width apart, with a dumbbell in each hand.

With knees slightly bent, hinge forward at the hips until your torso is between 45 degrees and parallel to the floor and dumbbells hang below shoulders, palms facing each other.

Engage core and keep neck neutral to maintain a flat back to start.

Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you drive your elbows up past your, bringing the dumbbells up next to ribs.

Keep arms in tight to your sides, then slowly lower dumbbells back to starting position.

Repeat for time or reps.

You can also use a kettlebell, resistance band or barbell for bent over rows.

Chest Press

Start on the ground, flat on your back (or on a bench if you have one) with your feet flat on the ground.

With a dumbbell in each hand, extend your arms directly over your shoulders, palms facing toward your feet.

Squeeze your shoulder blades together and slowly bend your elbows, lowering the weights out to the side, parallel with your shoulders, until your elbows form 90-degree angles.

Slowly drive the dumbbells back up to start, squeezing your shoulder blades the entire time.

Repeat for time or reps.

Bicep Curls

Start standing tall with your feet about hip width apart. Engage your core and roll shoulders back and down.

Holding one dumbbell in each hand, extend your arms down at by your sides with palms facing forward.

Keeping your upper arms stable and shoulders relaxed, bend at the elbow and lift the weights so that the dumbbells approach your shoulders. Your elbows should stay tucked in close to your ribs.

Lower the weights to the starting position.

Repeat for time or reps.

Dumbbell Thrusters

Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart and engage your core. 

Now stack the weights on your shoulders. Drive the hips back and down to lower into a squat position, aiming for thighs parallel to the ground.

Squeeze the glutes and drive through the heels to return to standing. Use the power from the squat to push the weights overhead, keeping your knees soft – then lower them back to your shoulders.

Repeat for time or reps.

Skull Crushers

Start on the ground, flat on your back (or on a bench if you have one) with your feet flat on the ground.

With a dumbbell in each hand, extend your arms directly over your shoulders, palms facing toward each other. If using just one dumbbell, have each hand holding an end of the dumbbell.

Keeping elbows shoulder width apart the entire time, bend your elbows and lower the weight down toward the top of your head.

Your upper arms should pretty much stay in the same place.

Continue lowering the weight behind the head, above your skull.

Straighten the arms again to bring the dumbbells back above the shoulders to your starting position, maintaining a slight bend in the elbows.

Repeat for time or reps.

Upper Body Strength To Improve Posture

If you spend a lot of time cycling, or even at a computer or laptop, you may begin to notice your posture worsens with hunching of the back. Working your upper body can strengthen the muscles to support good posture and reduce back pain.

If posture is a particular area you’d like to work on, try these movements to improve posture and some yoga stretches which are perfect for cyclists.

Post Upper Body Workout Stretch

If you try this upper body workout for cyclists, then I highly recommend some cool down stretches after your workout. Try these simple stretches for neck, shoulders & back that you can even do at your desk. Add in a chest stretch, and you’ll be good to go.

Do you do any upper body or strength workouts to support your cycling?


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