SHORT answer = YES! Powerful shoulders, and while we’re at it, a strong core, and good flexibility, are all beneficial when it comes to riding bikes.
AS you can imagine, there are other advantages to having “jacked scaps,” a concrete core and malleable muscles, some of which include:
- Better bike handling
- Fewer injuries
- Less soreness
- Faster recovery
- Higher FTP
- Greater endurance.
ESPECIALLY when standing and pedaling! We probably don’t give it much thought but that rocking motion when “dancing on the pedals” takes a good bit of upper body strength, and if you’re riding a course (like Stetina’s Paydirt – 9 days and counting!) that requires a lot of humping up (and flying down, too) rocky hills, it calls for even more muscle.
THIS brings me to me. 😉 You may remember this post about shoulder pain that I published in February. Well, I’m happy (ecstatic, really) to tell you that my “shoulder-life” is much, much better nowadays.
THAT’S not to say it was easy, nor am I done; the work and focus must continue, as it should, especially for us older riders. After twenty-one sessions of physical therapy, though, and because I’ve put in the work, I’m pretty much pain-free.
THE biggest benefit(s)? Stronger shoulders and core; less fatigue in the upper body during, and post-ride; and better control of my mountain and gravel steeds. And some ROI realized on the road bike, too.
WHAT exactly, can you do, you ask. Here’s a few suggestions (tested by yours truly on a regular basis):
- Regular (at least three times a week) shoulder and core work. The Crossover Symmetry bands are fantastic and give me a great all-around workout.
- Fitball, Bosu ball and medicine ball exercises.
- Stretching. So often neglected by many athletes…at their peril. Trust me, this is one of THE MOST important things you can do. There is no doubt in my mind that if I wasn’t as flexible as I am I would have been seriously injured many times over the years. Just look at professional athletes…
- Don’t neglect the hammies and lower back. Squats, btw, work wonders for these often over-looked muscle groups.
- Sprint intervals. Yesterday, for example, I hit Zwift Yorkshire and did about 10 laps of the Duchy Estate course. One ~20″ sprint on each lap produced a nice, all-around soreness today.
- REST. It’s in CAPS for a reason and admittedly it’s something I still have trouble doing. Easier to just ride and hammer, you know? Today, though, no exercise at all. Read this post for some specific insight on that rest ‘thang.
BE sure to get input from your coach, personal trainer, doctor, what have you, though, k? Every body is different.
I’D hate it if you injured yourself trying to get stronger or more flexible.
I hope this article was helpful. Feel free to pass on any tips you might have, too. We’d love to share ’em.
TAKE care, be safe and go kick those shoulders’ asses!