Balance & Stability Training for Cyclists & Triathletes: Part 1

Balance Training for Cyclists & Triathletes isn't Rocket Science, in Fact, It Can (And SHOULD be Simple)

Ditch the BOSU ball and pita pad for REAL performance based balance & stability training for cyclists & triathletes

When we hear balance training, we almost all immediately think of BOSU balls, “Pita pads”, sling trainers, TRX, and a number of other unstable surface toys we can throw into our programs. But the use of many of these unstable surface items won’t help you or your athlete learn how to be more stable. Instead, they’ll ingrain further poor and adaptive movement patterns that over time, will take it’s toll on the joints, the muscle balances at the joints, and eventually to a DECREASE in performance.

Let’s take a look at simple, yet devious approaches to help you train true balance while IMPROVING performance, and longevity.


Human Vortex Training

Understanding the jobs of the muscles

Human Vortex Training

In order to talk about balance, we have to first understand the jobs of the muscles of the body, as they relate to movement. There are 3 jobs muscles have when it comes to movement:

  1. To protect a joint from injury- this often happens in the form of some muscles shortening/tightening so that excessive movement can’t or won’t happen.
  2. To stabilize a joint while an adjacent joint moves (while your biceps shorten, your triceps lengthen while keeping enough tension to stabilize so the biceps can do their jobs
  3. To move a joint

Seeing these on paper, you can immediately better understand the challenge we have when we just throw a rider or triathlete onto an unstable surface: Many have extremely tight hip flexors and chest muscles, leading them to loss of their ability to extend their hips or flex their shoulders without compensating at the back.

Jumping onto an unstable surface often leads to more compensatory patterns, and a decrease in the individual’s ability to move well.

If not the BOSU, where should we start?

The first step to test, how well the athlete can balance, where do the breakdowns occur?

There are a number of tests we can perform for this, one of the easiest to perform is the 1-legged balance test.

Balance & stability training for cyclists & triathletes
Solid ground and one foot balancing can tell you a lot about a rider or triathletes ability to balance & stay stable….or lack thereof

This test allows us to assess the athletes posture, breathing, balance, and coordination, in a safe, “portable” fashion.

Many tend to think “Ha! This is crazy, you’re kidding right?!?”

But we’re dead serious.

As the saying goes “Does a bear poop in the woods?”


The video is the evidence, and for many, it’s a big wake-up call.

What are we looking for here, what makes one “good” and another “bad”

  1. Less than 2 inches sway side to side when lifting the leg off the floor
  2. Hips remain level throughout
  3. Foot stays flat on the floor
  4. Knee stay straight, or with a VERY slight bend
  5. Lifted foot stays either under the glutes, or slightly forward of glute
  6. Toes stay up on the lifted foot
  7. Hips and shoulders stay locked together throughout (no twisting)

It’s not uncommon to have one leg be a bit “better” (or even really good), with the other being extremely poor.

Depending on the athlete’s complaints and goals, this may be the only balance test we perform with 1 leg, and we would then include 1-2 other tests to look at balance and spinal stability. A great test, that is also an exercise (any exercise can be a test, and any test can become an exercise) is the Bird-Dog.


This test/exercise can really exposé a cyclist’s or triathlete’s inability to create core bracing to an appropriate level for a given activity, to allow for movement to ONLY occur at the hip and shoulder, and not from the spine.


For the bird-dog test, we want to have a wooden down on the spine, with 3 points of contact: The back of the head, the mid back, and the middle of the glutes. As the athlete goes through the range of motion these 3 points of contact should stay solid, there should be no separation of the rib cage from the spine, and all movement should come from the hip and shoulder.



Give these each a shot, recording yourself from the side and from the back for both of these movements. You will probably need someone to record the bird dogs for you, as we’ll want to be able to have a view looking either from the head down the spine, or from behind looking up the spine, in order to see if there is any twisting.



In Part 2, we’ll take a look at a few approaches to help TRAIN balance.


If you’re a coach, trainer, or fitness professional, and would like to learn more about strength training for cyclists, sign up for the waitlist for the Strength Training for Cyclists Certification, and get $200 off when the course opens again.  


Picture of Menachem Brodie

Menachem Brodie

Coaching since 2000, Menachem Brodie has been working with athletes in a number of settings, and a broad variety of sports.

1 thought on “Balance & Stability Training for Cyclists & Triathletes: Part 1”

  1. Avatar for Peters Ginger

    Many of these aspects are and should be top-of-mind especially for masters athletes. So strength training is in fact even more important for the older athletic population than the young 20-something studs. Other than you or your coach having to fit it into your program in a clever way, there is none. For a while, it was thought that by lifting weights and doing any sort of heavier resistance training, triathletes would “bulk up” and gain weight that you’d done have to carry around on the bike and run. Which would in most cases make you slower.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

Related Posts

Scroll to Top

Sign up for our Newsletter

And get the 12-week Core Strength Training for Endurance Athletes Program- Coaches Edition, normally $149, FOR FREE!