When it comes to strength training on your non-riding days, your legs and even your core are probably the muscles you prioritize most. However, skipping shoulder workouts isn’t in your best interest if you’re looking to improve your performance on the bike.
That’s because weak shoulders can cause pain and discomfort, which can slow you down—and potentially lead to injuries down the road.
“The hunched over posture a cyclist holds for hours on a road bike can put stress on the back and shoulders in a big way,” Amber Rees, senior trainer at Barry’s in New York City and cofounder of the Brave Body Project, tells Bicycling. “Neck, shoulder, and back pain is a constant struggle for cyclists, but the fix can be as simple as strengthening those areas to help prevent tension and pain. Strong shoulders will ultimately produce a better, stronger, pain-free ride.”
That’s why Rees created this 15-minute shoulder workout that you can add to any upper-body day on your training schedule.
How to do it: Perform each exercise for 50 seconds with 10 seconds of rest between each move. Repeat the circuit once more (for a total of two times). Rest 1 minute in between circuits. You’ll need a set of weights for most of the exercises. Choose a weight that is challenging, but doesn’t cause you to have poor form or that’s too heavy to use for the entire length of the exercise. Each exercise is demonstrated by Rees so you can learn proper form.
Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing body, arms at sides. Raise arms out until they’re parallel to the floor at shoulder height. Elbows should still have a slight bend in them. Return slowly to start. That’s one rep. Repeat.
Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand, hands facing toward your body. Bend elbows and raise dumbbells up to chin. Lower dumbbells back down. That’s one rep. Repeat.
Start standing, with feet shoulder-width apart holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing body, arms at sides. All while keeping hold of the dumbbells, hinge at hips to place dumbbells on floor, jump legs back into a high plank position, pause, then jump legs back in toward hands. Stand up, returning to start position. That’s one rep. Repeat.
Kneeling Overhead Press
Rack two dumbbells at your shoulders with palms facing out. Lower down into a half-kneeling position on left knee with right leg in front, both knees bent at 90 degrees. Engage core, then press weights up overhead and lower back down in a controlled motion. That’s one rep. Repeat.
Shoulder Tap to Down Dog
Start in a high plank position, wrists under shoulders, core engaged so body forms a straight line from heels to ankles. Tap right hand to left shoulder, then return it to the floor. Tap left hand to right shoulder, then return it to the floor. Raise hips into an inverted V position, keeping your legs straight. Lower hips down back to high plank position. That’s one rep. Repeat.
Start in a high plank position, wrists under shoulders, core engaged so body forms a straight line from heels to ankles. Drop into a forearm plank, arm by arm, by replacing right hand with right elbow, then left hand with left elbow. Reverse to raise up into a high plank. That’s one rep. Continue to repeat, alternating the lead hand each time.
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