Do you ever find yourself in the gym repeating an exercise that you’ve done a hundred times before, ‘just because’? There are so many fitness myths out there, it is sometimes hard to tell the good from the bad.
A stronger body means you’ll be more efficient on the bike, and more resilient to injury. However, there are loads of popular gym machines and strength and conditioning exercises that are really popular, but simply aren’t the most effective route to the goal of a fitter, faster you.
Some of the ‘culprits’ are machines which can actually be very effective – but only if performed with perfect form. Strapping yourself into a machine means you can end up using a heavy weight with poor form, doing damage that you’d find simply impossible if you were using a free weight (for example, dumbbell or kettlebell) that required you to stabalise yourself.
We’ve picked out 5 common gym culprits that can be replaced with much more effective moves that will allow you to reap greater, full body gains.
Hip Abduction / Adduction Machine
Yes, the machine in the corner of the gym that reminds you of petrifying birth-giving scenes from movies that could well be covert horror films.
There’s usually one machine where you push out, working your hips and quads, and another where you pull in, using your hips and abductor muscles. Cyclists should definitely target these powerful muscles, which can go a long way to improving your riding.
However, using the machine, you’re seated, training these very important muscles in a way that isn’t functional. Usually when working your hips and glutes, your core will also be engaged, but here it’s allowed to relax – thus applying unnatural strain to the body areas you’re aiming to strengthen, and also making the exercise less effective for all over conditioning.
Swap it for: Crab walks (Lateral Band Walks – if we’re being technical)
These force you to use your hips and glutes in a functional way, whilst stabilizing your body at the same time.
Loop a resistance band around your legs, just below your knees – then step sideways, crouching into a slight squat, taking steps in one direction, like a crab. Aim for 12 steps each way (you might need a long room!).
Check out this video for an animated guide.
If you want to add weight, you can use a cable machine, loop a band around your ankle and perform hip abduction (pictured below), extension and glute exercises – doing this you’ll need to use your core muscles to stabalise yourself throughout.