Cyclists and triathletes spend a lot of time on their bikes. And as a coach, I regularly get asked how athletes can get faster. Most athletes are happy to buy more aerodynamic components or gear. Many athletes are happy to work on building strength on the bike through sports specific strength work (e.g. riding hills or doing big gear low cadence rides) or weight lifting. And fewer athletes are interested/willing to do the unsexy mobility work that can have a direct impact on their performance. For 20+ years, Playtri has been helping Age Group athletes improve their performance through providing workouts and also through encouraging mobility work for all our athletes.
Mobility work is a low stress, high reward practice so as the off season approaches for many athletes, now is an excellent time to create a daily mobility habit. Your mobility work can include dynamic stretching, gentle yoga, foam rolling, stretching, and the like. But whatever you choose it needs to be repeatable (so you can do it again and again easily) and adaptable (to address any mobility issues that arise). Anecdotally, my athletes who are committed to mobility work on a regular basis tend to see the biggest progress year after year.
Here are four reasons why mobility work can be so impactful:
Cycling is a repetitive motion sport. Mobility work helps to reduce the risk of injury by preparing your body for the countless pedaling you will do. An increased range of motion in your joints, helps them to handle the stress of cycling, which can prevent aches and pains.
When your joints have a great range of motion and strength through that range, you will be able to generate more power with each pedal stroke which allows you to go faster and farther during training and racing.
If you are in the saddle for long periods of time outdoors and/or on the trainer, mobility work increases your comfort by reducing the potential for aches and pains. This means reduced fatigue and improved efficiency.
Improved running off the bike
Many age group triathletes have restricted hip range of motion because of work habits (seated most of the day) and the amount of time we spend in the aero position on the bike with limited hip range of motion. When triathletes increase their hip range of motion through mobility work they can experience better glute activation and greater efficiency in both their pedal stroke and running stride.
For mobility work, I strongly suggest purchasing a foam roller and a lacrosse ball. And if you want some hands on coaching to learn a repeatable and adaptable mobility routine, you can schedule a one-on-one session here. And if you have any questions about anything in this article or are interested in learning about different coaching options, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy training and racing this year!
Jim Rowe is a Playtri Level 4 Coach and Coach Education Lead, a USAT LI Certified Coach, an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and an Ironman and 70.3 World Championship Qualifier who works with adult athletes of all abilities from beginners to IRONMAN World Championship qualifiers. Learn more about Jim at www.playtri.com/jim-rowe