The Tour de France is arguably one of the most demanding races in the world, covering over 3,500 km in 21 days of bike racing. When you're covering that kind of ground, there are bound to be some bumps and bruises on the way, and le Tour 2011 has proven to be no exception with injuries that have side lined some of biggest names in cycling, including David Zabriskie. To make it across the finishline, cyclists need to have the winning combination of strength, endurance and durability.
Physical therapist Chris Nentarz knows firsthand the importance of injury prevention for cyclists, after working with professional athletes for the past eight years. "The prevalence of cycling injuries suggests we need be doing more to prevent these problems from occurring," says Chris. He has found Suspension Training helps his clients not only enhance their cycling performance but also proactively prevents injuries. Here we examine two of his top moves for cyclists: the TRX Chest Press and TRX Inverted Row.
Push-ups have long been recognized as one of the best exercises choices to improve upper body strength and core stability. A suspended push-up, like the TRX Chest Press (see video below), significantly increases activation of abdominal wall muscles and latissmus dorsi compared to standard push-ups. This has specific implications in cycling because fatigue to core muscles has been shown to alter lower extremity kinematics, which leads to poor pedaling efficiency and unwanted stress on tissues. Furthermore, poor efficiency increases the metabolic demands of the rider.
A 2009 study demonstrated that a suspended bodyweight row, like the TRX Inverted Row (see video below), is superior to a bent over row and single arm cable row in achieving core muscular activation. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that suspended rows have the lowest levels of compressive forces when compared to alternative exercises. "This is relevant to cyclists because we want to choose exercises that do not place unnecessary stress on important structures in the spine," says Chris.
"Evidence aside, the TRX is a versatile tool for cyclists and will help you stay on the road or trail," says Chris. "Suspended training will enhance stability and core strength, ultimately improving the foundation from which cyclists generate and sustain their power."
Chris Nentarz is Physical Therapy Manager at Athletes' Performance. He is a Physical Therapist, Certified Strength Training Specialist and Performance Enhancement Specialist with over eight years of experience working with athletes of all levels, including providing consultation services to many professional and elite organizations in the United States and Canada.