Juliana Bicycles

Strength Training: 6 of Kelli's favorite exercises

Kelli mixes it up to get through winter.

Sitting on a cycling trainer for hours doesn’t exactly sounds like a good time to any of us, but shorter days and colder temperatures often make it difficult to ride outside and stay fit. So, why not take a break from riding your bike? Winter is a great time of year to cut back on saddle time and renew your love for riding. A weightlifting routine can help you build the necessary strength to hold onto your handlebars on gnarly descents, climb up rocky technical sections, and even possibly prevent injuries for the upcoming season

I’ve picked a handful of my favorite workouts that’ll give you the biggest bang for your buck.


  • Stick to exercises that replicate movements of mountain biking
  • Incorporate exercises that engage your core for stability
  • Use multiple muscle groups at one time
  • You don’t need to spend endless hours in the gym, keep workouts intense and short to ward off boredom. I tell my clients, consistency is key–hit the gym three days a week for 60 minutes and you’ll see results.

1. Modified Mountain Climbers

All pedaling movements originate from your core and the longer you ride, the more you could notice lower back pain. Your legs may not necessarily feel fatigued, but your core could decide to throw in the towel before you're finished. When your core gives up, your cycling position goes all catawampus and you start using muscles that aren’t ideal.

This workout is more than your average plank–it is a full body workout that not only strengthens your midsection, but also focuses on hip adductors and quadriceps–the same muscles used while pedaling your bike. Start your routine with this to warm up and get your heart pumpin!

Get Ready:

  • Start off in the plank position, with even weight on your hands and feet.
  • Bring one knee as close as you can to your chest while keeping your foot off the floor.
  • Extend your leg back to its original position and set your foot back on the floor.
  • Lift the opposite leg and duplicate the same movement with the other leg.
  • For your first time, I recommend, performing this workout slowly and only 10 reps with each leg.
  • As you become stronger and more coordinated, pick up the pace and reps, and add more explosive power at takeoff.


2. Forward Lunges with Overhead Press
These forward lunges are a cyclist’s go-to leg workout since they target many of the main cycling muscle groups – quadriceps, back, and hamstrings, in addition to incorporating balance. Start out with lighter weight and perfect your form before grabbing the 50 lb. dumbbells.

Get Ready:

  • Stand upright, engage your core and keep your body in a straight line, with your feet about two fists’ width apart
  • Holding a dumbbell in each hand, elbows bent, palms at shoulder height and facing in toward each other
  • Step one foot forward and lower your hips until your front knee is bent to 90 degrees. Make sure your knee is above your ankle and your back leg is not touching the ground.
  • You should feel the weight on the heel of your forward foot and not on the ball.
  • As you step forward, push your arms up overhead without any bending or twisting in your core
  • While using your forward heel to push you back to your standing position, bring your arms back to their original position.
  • If you have any knee pain, shorten your lunge stance. After time, try increasing your stance distance   


3. Push Ups (Handlebar Width)
What the best thing about push-ups? You can do them anywhere and anytime–before bedtime?? I bet even your significant other would be impressed! This exercise mimics the same movement we do to keep our chest from hitting the handlebar and endo-ing. Trust me, your collarbone and shoulders will thank you for doing this exercise! Place your hands at the same width as your hands on your handlebar, so your newly-built strength will transfer directly to the bike.


Get Ready:

  • Place your hands at handlebar width
  • Place feet hip-distance apart
  • Your body should be in a straight line, core engaged, and tailbone tucked–this keeps your hips from coming out of alignment when lowering to the ground.
  • Bend your elbows, and lower yourself all the way down without touching the ground, then push back up to your original plank position.
  • Make sure to breathe! Inhale as you lower to the ground and exhale as you push up. This will help make your push-up a little easier.  


4. Farmers Walk
Do you ever get forearm pump or struggle to hang onto the handlebars while descending down mountains? This was a major issue for me and many of my friends while racing enduros and riding dirt bikes.  Now that I’ve incorporated this exercise, my forearms almost never fatigue. You will also notice during this exercise that your shoulders, back, and core will be engaged and getting a workout as you try to keep your arms by your side.

Get Ready:

  • Grab a dumbbell in each hand and let your hands fall by your side; go with a little heavier weight to make this workout more effective. 25lb dumbbells are a good starting weight.
  • Keep your back and shoulders in a straight line as you walk 10-20 steps.
  • Keep the weights by your side and don’t allow your arms to swing back and forth.
  • Engage your core to keep your back from hunching or rounding.


5. Kettlebell Swing
Who wouldn’t like to improve their climbing skills for difficult, ledgy sections of trail?  While riding in Sedona, trails with a thousand little, technical climbs, I found myself doing a similar hip thrust motion, similar to a kettlebell swing. Even though kettlebell swings are an accentuated version of this movement, I found myself becoming more confident moving forward and backward on the mountain bike and lifting my rear wheel over obstacles. This workout targets your lower back, hips, and hamstrings without straining your lower back. This workout will also help you to regain that upright, open posture that has been broken down from hours of sitting in a hunched over riding position.   

Get Ready:

  • Start with a lighter-weight kettlebell in both hands; wrist and arms are straight (elbows are not locked) and pointing down so your wrists are in front of your waist.
  • Shoulders are down and lats (muscles in upper back and under your arms) are engaged.
  • Legs are in a wide stance so feet are outside of shoulders and your toes are pointed straight ahead or at a slight angle; whatever is most comfortable for your knees.
  • Head is up and your chest is open, eyes are looking forward, back stays flat.
  • As you bend your knees, move your hips back till you feel a stretch in your hamstring–your should not feel a strain in your quards.
  • Body weight should be centered to slightly backward towards your heels.
  • Engage your core, thrust your hips forward, straighten your knees, tighten your glutes, and bring your arms up to shoulder height.
  • Let the kettlebell swing back between your legs, bend your knees and shift your hips back–do it again for 5-10 reps.


6. Box Jumps
Accelerating and sprinting are not my strengths as a cyclist and it wasn’t till I started doing this exercise that I saw improvements. Box jumps strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and quads, so you can sprint up those steep hills that you might have walked in the past. Not only will you feel stronger, but you will improve your agility, coordination, and balance needed to maneuver your way down descents.  

Get Ready:

  • Start with a 12-18 inch box about one foot in front of you. Increase your box height as you become comfortable with this exercise.
  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  • When jumping onto your box, bend your knees to a quarter squat, push off the ground with both feet, extend your hips, and swing your arms to shoulder height
  • Step off the box and repeat 10-15 times, do 2 to 3 sets of 10-15 jumps or till fatigued.

Posted on: February 02 — 2016 | All News