Sophie Dahl called her the "Priestess of Pilates", The Times went for the "Queen of Pilates" and The Observer "The First Lady of Pilates."
It's fair to say, Lynne Robinson knows her stuff when it comes to Pilates, a form of exercise known for developing core strength, correcting misalignment, and stretching out tight muscles - all things most cyclists could do more of.
[related_articles]This week we were treated to an entire class led by Lynne, who is the co-founder of Body Control Pilates Education. We enjoyed her relaxed style of teaching, and down to earth attitude - we couldn't help but giggle when she used the common phrase: "Send your breath to your hips," and then added: "not that that's anatomically possible, but you know what I mean."
We caught up with her after the class to ask exactly which exercises are best suited to cyclists. She explained: "Most cyclists have weak glutes, and tight hips - so we look to address those areas. My top three would be Spine Curls, The Star and arm opening exercises."
Cyclists often get very tight hips, from pedaling whilst in a static position - and this exercise stretches them out. We're also prone to overusing our quads, and neglecting the hamstrings and glutes - strengthening these muscles will help you to get more out of every pedal stroke.
How to do it...
- Start with your knees bent, and your arms at your sides
- Breathe in first, and then breathe out as you curl your pelvis underneath you
- Press your upper back into the mat, and then begin to lift yourself off the mat, one vertebra at a time
- Roll your spine up from the mat, right to the tips of your shoulder blades
- Breathe in, and hold the position, focusing on the length of your spine
- Breathe out, and roll the spine back down to the start position. Then repeat this up to ten times.
- It's important to take it slowly, lifting one vertebra at a time
- Keep the weight in your feet equal, so you don't drop your pelvis to one side
The Star is great for developing glute strength, as well as strengthening the abdomen, and lower back.
Though when you ride, you're mostly aware of your legs pumping, your abs and back are working very hard to support you, and the stronger they are, the less fatigue you'll feel - especially if you're climbing a lot or getting down into an aero position.
How to Do It...
- Lie on your front, align your pelvis and spine into a neutral position, and rest your forehead on the mat. Your legs should be straight, slightly wider than hip width apart
- Reach both arms above your head, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Rest them on the mat, palms facing down
- Breathe in, then out again, lifting your chest slightly off the mat
- Breathe in, and lengthen your spine, keeping your chest lifted
- Breathe out, keep your spine stable, and lift your left arm and right leg off the ground
- Breathe in, lower them to the ground, and repeat on the other side
- Do this up to ten times, alternating arms and legs
- Make sure you don't compress your spine, and keep your abdominal muscles engaged
- Only raise your arm and leg as high as you can without tipping your spine and pelvis
- Keep your chest open
Regardless if you ride a road or flat bar bike - you still curl your back over the handlebars, though roadies will suffer the effects more. As a result, cyclists often have tight shoulders - and this can actually throw off the alignment of your entire spine, which connects to your hips and legs... not good!
This stretch mobilises the head and torso, promoting openness at the shoulders.
How to do it...
- Lie on your right side - and align your pelvis so that it's sitting neutrally. Place a cushion under your head and bend both knees - so that your hips and knees are at a right angle
- Start with your right arm resting on the mat, and your left arm on top of it, so that your palms face each other
- Breathe in, and raise your left arm to the ceiling, then roll your head and neck to follow it
- Breathe out, and feel your chest open up and stretch the left arm so it sits above the shoulder joint
- Breathe in, and rotate from the spine to return your arm back to the starting position
- Repeat up to five times, then do the same on the other side
- Ensure correct alignment - shoulder above shoulder, hip above hip and foot above foot
- Keep your pelvis stable
- Try to make sure the movement comes from rotation of the spine, and is not led from the arm
Want to know more? Check out Lynne's book, The Pilates Bible.