Why cyclists need to cross-train the full body with Pilates

Research shows that cyclists will benefit from cross-training the full body and including Pilates in their workouts.


  • Fundamental driving force in cycling.
  • Develop and strengthen ankle, knee and hip joints, flexors, extensors and adductors for correct leg alignment and efficient pedal stroke.
  • Correct alignment and strength in the ankle, knee and hip flexors, extensors and adductors reduces the risk of overuse injuries on these joints.
  • Quads, hamstrings and calves propel the pedals; strengthen them for greater power output, increased cadence and energy efficiency.
  • Due to the tripod nature of sitting on the bike, cyclists need to counter the effects: stretch out hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, quads and glutes continuously to maintain proper body alignment.
  • Tight glutes, hamstring, hip flexors and quads can result in strain being placed on other body parts and result in pain in those areas, eg lower back.


  • Very important for the cyclist to maintain good backhealth.
  • Because of the bent-over position on the bike, the back muscles are constantly engaged; thus they need to be strengthened to ensure good support on the bike, endurance and prevent pain or injury.
  • The back is the solid base against which the leg presses to propel the pedal stroke; the back needs to be strengthened to withstand this constant force.
  • The back muscles stabilise the pelvis and the spine.
  • Due to the hunchback nature of riding, cyclists need to stretch the back out, counter-stretch the position on the bike and develop good spinal support to preventkyphosis.
  • Cycling does, to some extent, build back muscles.


  • A cyclist cannot develop core strength or build solid abs while in the saddle.
  • Weak abdominals work in hypertrophy to a strong back and can lead to many alignment issues.
  • Strong abs counter the effects of biking on the body.
  • Strong abs are the key to core power, stability andcontrol.
  • The abdomen is a platform for powering the pedals against two large pistons (legs).
  • Strong abs, obliques and pelvic floor assist in stabilising the body in the saddle for greater energy efficiency and pedal stroke.
  • Abs support the lower back to prevent back pain andinjury.
  • Abs assist in the breathing process; conditioned abs mean better breathing at v02 max.


  • The arms are two of five points in contact with the bike.
  • Their job in riding is to steer, balance and keep the bike upright and support the upper body.
  • Strong arms, shoulders and pecs are essential for controlling the bike when out of the saddle on hill climbs or sprints.
  • Arms are the foundation for stabilising the body when in or out of the saddle.
  • Weak arms, shoulders and chest mean quicker and greater fatigue, which means more energy wastage, poor bike handling and control, and far less endurance on thebike.
  • Weak arms, chest and shoulders also mean greater pressure is put on other upper body parts such as the neck and back.


  • The position on the bike means the neck is in a constant extended position; this could mean strain and pain in the neck.
  • Strengthening and stretching the neck muscles reduces neck pain.