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Keeping a Balanced Body: Endurance Athletes

As part of our February newsletter James Greenwood of Innovative Fitness has shared his insight into why it is important for endurance athletes to maintain a balanced body, and how it can be achieved and maintained. Read on to learn more.

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Over the years the endurance sports community, including the cycling community, have come to see the benefits of resistance training as an integral part of their training.

The benefits of resistance training are numerous and include1:

  • Increasing strength and the ability to produce power on the bike
  • Improvement in the muscles ability to withstand fatigue, otherwise known as muscle endurance
  • Injury prevention and pre-habilitation to ensure the athlete
  • Post injury rehabilitation to return the athlete to bike riding

However, before embarking on any conditioning program, either on or off the bike, there should be some form of assessment or evaluation. This can be in the form of basic movement evaluation (such as Functional Movement Screen (FMS)).

“To prepare an athlete for the wide variety of activities needed to participate in their sport, the analysis of fundamental movements should be incorporated into pre-participation screening in order to determine who possesses, or lacks, the ability to perform certain essential movements” 2

This will provide an excellent starting point for the development of a very individualized resistance training program, and allow for good focus on the identified problem areas.

So what is a Movement Screen, and what does it actually tell us?

A movement screen is an evaluation of your bodies’ ability to move, and is administered by a trained professional.

During the screening process, we look for areas that might be responsible for limiting performance, and possibly even have a negative impact on your overall health and wellness.

Limiters identified during the assessment / screen might include:

  • Imbalances between the left and right sides of the body
  • Sub-optimal range of motion / mobility around a joint
  • Lack of stability at a joint
  • Poor motor (movement) control

Armed with this information, we can develop strategies and interventions to allow us to build a more freely moving body. One that is able to withstand the rigors of both life and hours on the bike, cranking the cranks!

These strategies should be more than just lifting weights. They should include elements of stretching, mobility work, stability training and resistance training to enhance overall physical function.

So what are a few areas that cyclists should be focusing on to keep the body in balance?

During cycling, and daily activity, the majority of the time is spent in the forward flexed (bending forward) position. As a result, it is recommended that activities focus on muscles that run down the back of the body (posterior chains).

Moving the from the forward flexed position, into a more extension based position, not only “opens” the front of the body, but balances the front and back. When it comes to our body, balance is a good thing!

Here are a few very simple exercises that will help you re-activate the posterior chain: 3


Stability ball alternating supermans

  • Assume a prone position with a stability located right under your mid-section. Turn on your TrA, maintain a flat lower back and lift an arm and the opposite leg up and down simultaneously.


  • Right side: 8 – 12 reps 2 sets          
  • Left side: 8 – 12 reps 2 sets          

Self myofascial release – hamstrings

  • Sit with a set of TRS Body Balls under your hamstrings and ‘sink into’ the balls targeting the biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendonosus. When you find a tender spot hold for 20 seconds then move on.


Goblet Squat

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder width apart and external rotate your feet. Hold on to a kettle bell and ensure that your scapulae are retracted and your spine is tall. Perform a controlled squat and focus on relaxing your hips as you go down.

goblet 1goblet 2 

Open Books


  • Lie on your side with your top knee elevated and bent at no less than a 90 degree angle. Begin with both arms at shoulder height and rotate with your top arm reaching for the floor. Rotate your body achieving movement from the thoracic spine and ensure that your head follows the movement.

 open book 1open book 2

  • Right side: 8 – 12 reps 2 sets          
  • Left side: 8 – 12 reps 2 sets          

Half kneeling hip flexor stretch assisted

  • In a half kneeling stance, press down on a foam roller and shift your weight forward. Elevate your back foot using a stability ball. Ensure that your lower back doesn’t collapse into a hyperlordotic arch.

half kneeling


These are a very general sample of the types of activities that can, and should, be done to set the body up for improvement in its ability to move soundly – both on and off the bike.


1: NSCA Performance Training Journal: Cycling (2002)Vol1: #5

2: Cook, G. et al (2006). North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 1(2), 62–72.

3: Exercise recommendations and guidelines provided by Kevin Hendry and Curtis Christopherson, Innovative Whiterock

About the Author: James Greenwood


James works out of Innovative Fitness in Port Moody, as an Exercise Physiologist / Sport Scientist, Conditioning coach and Endurance athlete Coach. He is also a certified nutritionist and endurance athlete himself. He can be reached at if you have any questions or require additional consultation.