Cyclists looking to diversify their winter training this year will be disappointed to hear that gyms are still closed in many provinces due to COVID-19. At the start of the pandemic Canadian track cyclist Kelsey Mitchell, a world record holder and 2019 PanAm champion, also had to figure out how to adapt her off-the-bike training to a home environment. Thankfully, “CSIO [The Canadian Sports Institute] was was really nice and lent us some weight equipment,” she says. “We just had it in the garage, so we were able to still lift.”
From March to June, Mitchell, who lives with Team Canada teammate Lauriane Genest, trained in their home gym. She was grateful for the ability to continue training with weights but, she says that cyclists (“especially road cyclists,” she jokes) can get some great training in with just their body weight.
She shared some tips and a few exercises cyclists can work into their plans at home without any fancy equipment.
“Focus mostly on the core and legs,” says Mitchell, “you don’t need a whole lot of upper body.”
Single leg squats
“Single leg exercises are really good for bodyweight exercises because there’s more weight on the one leg,” says Mitchell.
“Put your back foot on something stable,” says Mitchell.”It’s kind of like a single-leg squat. But sometimes going down for a single leg squats can challenging enough without balancing.” Try both and figure out what is sustainable balance-wise for at least ten reps to start.
Single-leg RDL (Romanian deadlifts)
“If you’re doing an RDL you’re kind of hitting your back as well,” says Mitchell, who says just a small amount of back exercises is enough. “I’ve just learned from personal experience is if you do too much back on top of the cycling position, it’s sometimes too much for the back.”
Glute bridge/ single-leg glute bridge
Start with both feet on the ground. For more of a challenge raise one leg, and if that’s too easy hold the position without lowering your hips.
“I do a lot of core,” says Mitchell, who solved a Rubik’s cube in a plank position with a 25kg plate on her back this summer.
There are many ways to make a plank more challenging, though Mitchell says “if you really focus on actually squeezing your core, and not relying on your hip flexors or your shoulders, then even 10 seconds can be really hard.”
If you do want to make the plank a bit more challenging she suggests putting something heavier on your back, planking on an unstable surface (to help work your small stabilizer muscles) or lifting an arm or a leg. “The longer you do it, the harder it is,” she says.