Pilates for Cyclists – by Mel Engelbrecht

Pilates for Cyclists – by Mel Engelbrecht

Did you know Pilates can help cyclists produce more power with less effort, so they can travel faster for longer? Pilates is a core specific form of exercise designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, posture and mental awareness through improved:

  • Core strength ( Power Output )
  • Core balance ( Stability )
  • Core control ( Efficiency )
  • Precision of movements
  • Balanced Flow of movement
  • Breathing
Pilates helps you be a more efficient rider.

By improving your core strength, you can increase your power output for longer with less effort and with better form, keeping the spine in a stable position whilst your limbs are moving.
Pilates targets the core muscles that help stabilise the rider on the bike, keeping the spine in a stable position whilst the limbs move. By improving their core strength, cyclists can increase their power output, balance and therefor bike handling.

Sir Bradley Wiggins (who knows a bit about generating power on a bike) is quoted as using Pilates to help strengthen his core; as he says "Without a solid core you can't transfer power efficiently."

Pilates also helps improve alignment when you cycle – helping to make the movement more stable and improving the movement pattern in the leg, i.e. stopping the knees and feet from turning or twisting during the pedal stroke and protecting you against potential knee and ankle injury.

Using your own bodyweight as resistance in Pilates, cyclists are able to increase their bone density and muscle strength without increasing bulk, allowing them to improve their power to weight ratio (watts/Kg).

Lastly, cyclists tend to suffer from tight hip flexors, necks and upper backs, caused by being hunched forward over the frame. Pilates is known to improve flexibility and posture, so it's a great way to address some of the postural imbalances and muscular tightness that cycling inevitably brings. It will help stretch and lengthen those muscles while strengthening them, so they don't set tight and short and cause potential injury.

When should you do Pilates? Both in the on- and off season – In the off season to help build strength and improved body alignment, and during the season to help you stretch and release tight muscles while increasing your core strength.

About Mel: With an International Qualification as a Classical Pilates Trainer from Core Pilates New York, I have been teaching Pilates to clients for 14 years. I have seen the benefits of including Pilates in training regimes first-hand - not only through improved strength, flexibility and posture of clients, but also improved overall wellbeing and reduced incidents of injury and strain.


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