Despite our best intentions, life can often get in the way of our cycling. A ride – even a quick one – that we’ve planned with our buddies or a local ride group sometimes has to be sacrificed for a visit to the dentist or an unexpected school drop-off. As well as missing out on the obvious physical benefits of a training ride, it’s easy to let these interruptions get you down. So, next time your riding plans are thwarted, try not to stress; just accept the fact that you’ve missed out on your ride this time, get on with your day, and try to set aside five minutes to do this kick-ass bodyweight workout instead. It’s not as good as riding, but it’s the next best thing and it’s whole lot quicker!
The wall sit exercise will really get those legs firing – it’s fantastic for building isometric strength and endurance in the quadriceps muscle group, glutes and calves.
HOW TO DO IT
Stand with your back against a wall and take a small step forward – this is the approximate distance you need to be away from the wall. Bend at the knees and sit back and down until your back is pressed flat against the wall and you’re forming a right angle at your hips and knees, with your heels on the ground. Try to hold this position for 30 seconds to begin with, and aim to eventually build up to 2 minutes.
This slow-moving exercise is great for building strength and flexibility in the calves and quadriceps.
HOW TO DO IT
With feet shoulder-width apart, inhale deeply and extend your arms out in front of you. Then lower your arms down and slightly behind you as you slowly squat down, keeping your back upright. Exhale as you lower as far as you can, aiming to be up on your toes at the bottom of the squat. Stand, pressing your heels to the floor and bringing your arms back in front of you so they’re parallel to the floor. Continue into the next rep without pausing. Start with 20 repetitions and try to build up to 50 as you feel yourself becoming stronger.
We all know how to do a standard push up, but here’s a series of variations that will target some different muscle groups.
Wide Grip Push Up: Start from a normal pushup position but spread your hands wider than shoulder length. This will force your chest to pick up the brunt of the work from your triceps and shoulders.
Narrow Grip Push Up: Do normal a normal pushup with your hands just a few inches apart from each other underneath your chest to target your triceps.
T Push Up: Start from a regular pushup position. Take one hand off the ground and raise it straight up in the air (making a T-shape out of your body). Keep your eyes locked on your raised hand. Repeat for your other side. If you have them, add dumbbells to the routine to increase the intensity of the workout. T-pushups target your entire upper body - not only are you working your chest, but you're also strengthening your shoulders, opening up your thoracic spine [midback], and building rotational power through your core.
Single-Leg Push Up: By simply lifting one foot off the floor and attempting to do a regular push up, the work that your upper body and core are required to do is magnified greatly – focus on trying to keep your hips level and working through the entire range of motion throughout the exercise.
Feet Elevated Push Up: Do a normal pushup, but with your feet elevated on a stable platform like a box, chair or bench. The higher the platform, the more you'll work your shoulders, chest, core, and scapular stabilizers (the muscles that connect your neck, midback, and shoulders).
Do one set of each push-up variation to failure (as many as you can do).
This dynamic movement will improve your explosive power, as well as building muscular endurance in your quadriceps and calves.
HOW TO DO IT
Set your feet in a squatting base, as if you are about to squat with a heavy load, with hands behind your head. Descend into a parallel position and then drive up as high as possible, making sure to consciously push as hard as you can through your ankles, knees, and hips. Upon landing, attempt to absorb the load of the jump by landing on the front half of your feet and then sinking back onto your heels as the hips descend into the next squat. Begin by trying to do 15 repetitions without stopping.
This is the most powerful and dynamic bodyweight exercise of all – you will need a stable box, bench or low table to jump on. DO NOT over-estimate your jumping ability – it’s way better to do a few extra repetitions at a lower height than it is to injure yourself trying to go too high. And despite what some of your CrossFit friends might tell you, there’s no Olympics for box jumping anyway!
HOW TO DO IT
Stand in front of the box with your feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees and visualize driving your feet into the floor as you jump up onto the box, land softly on flat feet (not on your toes and definitely not on your heels – one of the benefits of the box jump is that it provides dynamic movement with very little impact). Remember to brace your abs, keep your eyes up and your chest wide open. Stand tall at the top once you have landed, then step down off the box to repeat - jumping off the box backwards places unwanted stress on the Achilles tendon and poses an unnecessary risk. Depending on the height of the box you’re jumping on, start by doing one set of 20 repetitions, and gradually build up to two sets of 30 repetitions.
So, next time it’s raining too hard to ride or circumstances conspire to somehow keep you off your bike, set aside five minutes to rip through these exercises – they’ll help you get faster, stronger, and reduce your likelihood of getting injured. But whenever you can, go ride your bike. It’s way more fun.