When we think about muscles we need to work on for riding a bike, the last thing we tend to consider are those through our upper body such as through the shoulders, thoracic spine and neck. But whilst our legs and heart do the bulk of the work while riding it is also important to be strong through these areas so that we can maximise our pedalling efficiency and minimise risk of pain and injury.
Being strong in the upper body allows us to hold a better position on the bike so that we are more aerodynamic. This applies to both triathlon or time trial bikes and road bikes. It also helps to prevent tension from building up in our shoulders and neck because our body is stronger and so doesn’t have to strain to try and hold the position on the bike.
The picture above shows the difference a strong upper body can make. The rider on the left has a more relaxed position because he may not have the strength to hold the more aerodynamic position we see on the right.
Strength in the upper body is also more energy efficient as we get less movement through our thoracic spine and shoulders whilst riding. This means we can put more of that energy into the pedals and ultimately go faster.
So how do we strengthen our upper body for cycling? Below are links to two videos of exercises that will help strengthen the upper body and allow you to hold yourself better on the bike.