Have you ever wondered how some people could maintain a chiseled midsection while others carry around a “beer-gut?” You may think that some folks are just born with good genetics, and others are simply cursed with a life deprived of being able to show off their “six-pack.”
You may also be wondering, can cycling give you ripped abs? After all, you spend a good deal of time riding your bike, and there should be some kind of reward in the form of a beautiful physique.
The answer is yes! You can develop an incredible “washboard” while enjoying the sport of cycling. However, in order to utilize a plan to achieve that goal, a basic understanding of how the body functions is essential.
Many different muscles work together to help propel your bike forward. Collectively, they make a huge impact on the force output generated by your body while pedaling.
The hip adductors (inner thigh muscles)
These long, muscular bands run down along the inside of your leg and allow you to keep from flaring your knees outward while riding. The adductors start from the hip and connect to the tibia (lower leg bone).
Their main job is to pull the leg into the centerline of the body and assist other muscles with leg flexion.
The hip abductors (outer thigh muscles)
These muscles often get confused with the adductors, since the name is similar, but they work to help increase power during the pedals’ downstroke. Unlike the adductors, they run along the outside of the leg.
Their primary mission is to draw the leg to the outside of the body, similar to a karate kick. This action allows you to keep your foot straight on the pedals.
The hip extensors (glutes and tensor muscles)
From about the 12 o’clock to the 3 o’clock pedal positions, these powerful muscles work together to provide the most force for the entire pedal stroke. They have the ability to fire quickly and give you a strong burst of energy during the start of a race.
The knee extensors (quadriceps)
Once the pedal reaches the 3 o’clock position, it is time for the quads to take over. Power through the pedal stroke is enhanced as the knee becomes fully extended.
The knee flexors (hamstrings)
During the recovery phase of the stroke, the hamstrings engage to help pull the pedal back to the 12 o’clock position. The rider needs to clip into the pedals to accomplish this. Otherwise, the pedals will be pushed downward instead of pulling upward, thereby defeating the pedal stroke.
The hamstrings are the most overlooked, yet some of the most important muscles for the cyclist. They not only add speed and power through … Read More