exercise ball

It's pretty common for riders to quickly cut down on strength training once the sun comes out - miles on the bike feel exhilarating and the gym becomes a distant memory.

Keeping up with a bit of strength training will benefit your riding, boosting your power and safeguarding against injury - but it's understandable you don't want to swap a bike ride to head to the gym.

Here are a few pieces of kit that are worth having at home - so you can squeeze in a few extra exercises before bed, without having to sacrifice any riding at all...

wall squat

You can do a lot with an exercise ball - and they're particularly good for those who are targeting core strength. Because the ball provides a fairly unstable base, you're forced to use your own muscles to stabilize yourself throughout.

For example, doing a tri-cep dip with your feet on the ground will work your triceps (well, obviously...) - but if you do the same exercise with your feet on an exercise ball? Your mid-section needs to work hard to keep your body stable - and that's the same mid-section that keeps you sturdy on the bike.

Great exercises to do with an exercise ball include:

  • Squats - place the ball on your back against the wall, and roll it down the wall as you squat - this actually helps to ensure that you don't commit the sin of leaning forward as you squat, improving your form
  • Tri-cep dips and press-up - perform these as normal (check this guide for our outline) - but place the ball underneath your ankles - you'll have to work to keep those legs straight!
  • Jackknife - this one is excellent for your core, and your quads, as well as being a little cardio kick, too! This video gives a demonstration.
  • Roll outs - we could suggest they you buy an 'Ab Wheel' as well, but actually you can get two for one with your exercise ball! Place your forearms on the ball, then roll it forward - you should feel it through your abs - get the ball as far away from you as you can, then roll back
  • Bridges - great for your back, core, glutes and quads - this is how to perform a 'normal' bridge. In this case, lie on your back, with your feet on the ball, and use your glutes to lift your bum up. If you want a little extra burn, roll the ball away from you, straightening your legs - you'll feel it through your hamstrings!

How much? We found this 65cm ball for just £6.99

band

A resistance band is a super simple, inexpensive piece of kit - but used correctly, you can reap big rewards from a stretchy piece of plastic.

The addition of the exercise band just means you get a little extra kick out of your exercises, and in many cases it will help you to maintain good form.

Here are some of the best...

  • Lateral band walk - as suggested by Revolution Cycling Coach Kerry Bircher here. Loop the band around your ankles, and take side steps (like a crab!), keeping tension in the band to work your glutes.
  • Seated row - sit on the ground, with your feet stretched in front of you, and loop the band around your feet. Hold the band at each end, with your arms out-stretched, then brace your core, and use your arms to pull the band closer to you, until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle, return, and repeat
  • Resistance bands are also fantastic for helping you maintain flexibility - try lying on your back, looping the band around one foot, then raising that leg and using the band to gently pull your leg closer to your body. Don't pull so hard it hurts, though - be gentle!

How much? This set is just £16.50 and includes several strengths plus some exercise suggestions

rope

Thought jump ropes were just for kids? Think again!

Skipping has serious benefits - a few minutes provide a mega quick cardio workout, that will really push your heart and lungs, and jumping is a form of plyometrics which build expolsive strength (GREAT for sprinting).

The best exercise with this - is, well - skipping. Make sure you jump with both legs, and skip for short intervals, giving it everything you've got to elevate your heart rate close to maximum. Try interspersing the other exercises with 1-3 minutes of skipping.

How much? We found this Nike rope for just £9.99

strength kettlebell

The kettlebell is a great alternative to dumbells because the center of gravity shifts throughout movements, so balance and coordination are added to the challenges. Nearly all exercises are designed to work your entire body, too - giving both strength and cardio benefits.

You can pick up a kettlebell in most sports shops these days (I've even seem them in Tesco!) - but get yourself a video, too - as form is important.

Some of the best exercises include:

  • Kettlebell swing - you'll start with your feet hip width apart, and both hands on the handle. Swing the kettlebell back between your legs, then in one movement, thrust forward from your glutes and swing the weight into the air. This will work your glutes, hamstrings, and your core as you stabalise yourself. Your arms will be working, but shouldn't take the full brunt of the move.
  • Kettlebell Goblet Squat - start with your legs hip width apart, and the weight in both hands (like you're holding a precious object!) Keeping your arms close to your body, squat down so your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  • Kettlebell Deadlift - Similar to a standard deadlift - start with your feet hip width apart, and the weight in front of you. Squat down, pick it up, straighten, and then drop down again to place it back on the ground. And repeat...

How much? Prices vary depending upon weight, but a 12kg vinyl ball will set you back about £22 from Fitness Superstore

warrior

Never underestimate what you can do with your body alone, and a good, non-slip, padded surface to make the movements easier.

Yoga combines that all important flexibility training, which will keep you supple and injury free, with strength training to help improve your power and stability on the bike.

Ideally, start with a Yoga class at your local gym, so you can copy moves at home, or try some of these:

How much? This Non-Slip Mat from Yoga Matters is just £17