Find your Balance, Unleash Your Power: Balance Training for Cyclists & Triathletes
Learn how to progress your balance training for TRUE performance gains on the bike, or out on course
Balance Training for Cyclists & Triathletes Part 2
In part 1 we took a look at why balance training should start on SOLID GROUND, and why toys such as pita pads, BOSU balls, and Indo boards are just that: toys.
Of course, there are times and places where these instruments can and SHOULD be the go-to, however those times tend to be few and relatively far between.
We also went over a pair of assessments that you can easily do to check your or your cyclists/ triathletes’ abilities to balance and maintain stability.
Today we are going to talk about HOW to train balance and stability, including a sample progression you can use.
Balance training for triathletes & cyclists to improve performance
Perhaps the most overlooked or omitted part of balance training, is training the ability of the individual to produce appropriate stiffness through their core….Without unwanted movements from the supporting limb.
No, we’re not talking about the mass media’s version of “The core” being your stomach.
We’re talking about the PERFORMANCE core, that is EVERYTHING between your neck, elbows, and knees.
In order for us to improve balance, we must have the ability to produce appropriate stiffness through the core, maintain good postures, which will help us better produce movement at the limbs with little to no compensations from other areas, such as the spine and hips.
Intermediate Progressions of Balance Training for Cyclists & Triathletes
This is just one of many progressions you can use for your riders or triathletes, and is not meant to an end-all, be-all. It’s intended for those who have had a good foundation of strength training, and can maintain good lumbo-pelvic (lower back & hip) positioning when fresh, but lose it when they BEGIN to fatigue.
- Can Crush
While we COULD start with simple 1 leg balancing, and I have done that at times in the past, I find it’s often more engaging to give a more athletically oriented movement.
The Can crush allows us to teach good athletic posture for the run and the bike, while reinforcing good sprinting mechanics- something I believe triathletes need, but particularly lack.
2. Pawing (supported)
Pawing is a great way to tie together the lower body mechanics with a strong, stable hip and appropriate stiffness & bracing at the midsection. This drill is a nice setup up from the Can Crush, as you go from a tripod position where you can use your midsection and torso to help maintain great positions, to that where you have only 1 leg support.
3. Unsupported Pawing
While there are a few smaller steps we can use to move from supported pawing to unsupported, this is the next major one. Take your time in moving from Supported Pawing to unsupported. The key here is the appropriate midsection bracing, and “spotting”, or looking straight ahead with the chin tucked.
4. Snap Downs
Time to take the newfound balance and MAKE IT ATHLETIC.
Snap Downs offer us the ability to see how the cyclist/ triathlete moves through an athletic movement while keeping appropriate stiffness, and balancing themselves to absorb the movement.
This part of balance training is often skipped over entirely, as the urge of making things (unnecessarily) difficult and cool looking is too much for many to resist. (It’s a trap!)
Snap downs serve a number of purposes in balance and athletic development:
- Learning/refining ability to produce speed and absorb forces through the entire core (again, everything between the neck, elbows, and knees).
- Teaching Skill-Speed and Speed-Strength, two parts of the training spectrum that are often neglected or omitted.
- Helps the athlete learn how to balance while decelerating or changing positions. 2 important skills for cyclists and triathletes (think cornering, reacting to someone starting their sprint behind you, etc).
- Exposes other weak links – this could be anything from tight calves, to poor spinal extensor muscular strength, or inability to use hands in a coordinated manner.
5. 2 leg to 1 leg Snap-downs
The next milestone here in our progression, the 2 leg to 1 leg snap-downs will expose any and all weaknesses. This means that if one has not been improving the strength and resilience of the body as a whole, in appropriate relationship of each part to the other, that the athlete may start to notice achy knees, hips, back, and feet, as well as growing frustration that they can’t execute these well.
The strength training needs to be built properly, to allow the athlete to be solid before moving to this stage.
While there is more to the different balance progressions we use here at Human Vortex Training, these 5 serve as the foundations of progression of balance training for cyclists and triathletes, as well as a number of other sports.
If you’d like to learn more about progressions in strength training for cycling or strength training for triathlon, sign up for the Insiders List for my Strength Training for Cyclists Certification Course and get $200 off the price when the course opens for enrollment.
Until next time, remember to Train Smarter, Not Harder, because it IS all about YOU!