Whether you’re a recreational or a hard-core mountain biker, Pilates can push your riding to the next level. Do a few simple exercises before jumping in the saddle, and you’ll wake up key muscles that can boost performance on the trail. As you increase core strength, you’ll develop the strong, stable platform needed for speed and control. Increasing mobility in the hip joint will get you into a better “ready” position, with your hips back, chest low and back straight. See you on the other side of the mountain!
Yoga Obliques Roll Back Exercise Photo Gallery
OBLIQUE ROLL BACK
PURPOSE: mobilizes the hips and lower back; stretches and strengthens the hip flexors; increases core stability and abdominal strength.
SETUP: Sit tall, with your knees bent, feet flat on the mat and arms reaching forward at shoulder height, palms down.
1 Exhale, rolling your tail under, flexing your lower spine, rolling back, and then rotating your rib cage to the left while sweeping your left arm down and back. Keep your hips facing forward.
2. Inhale, sweeping your left arm down and forward as you return to the vertical (or upright) starting position.
3. Repeat to your opposite side. Do 6-10 reps.
MODIFICATION: If you can’t get into a vertical position, or feel tension in your back or hip flexors, sit on an elevated surface.
ADVANCED: Use a light set of hand weights—1-3 pounds—or bring your hands to your forehead.
LEG-PULL FRONT PREP TO CAT
PURPOSE: strengthens the upper body
(shoulders and arms), abdominals and hip flexors; mobilizes the spine and hip joints
SETUP: Get on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders, knees hip-width apart and under your hips, toes tucked under and spine in a neutral, long line.
1. Exhale and, keeping your spine long and ribs connected, hover your knees a few inches off the mat. Inhale and hold.
2. Exhale, drawing your belly button in and opening the front of your hips to curl your lower spine toward the sky, into a Cat position.
3. Inhale, lengthening your spine to neutral, then return your knees to the starting position. Do 5-10 reps.
TIPS: Flex your spine from your abdominals, and lift at your bottom ribs. Use your hamstrings and glutes to help curl your tail under.
SIDE LYING BOW AND ARROW
PURPOSE: strengthens the abdominals as well as the hip joints three dimensionally; enhances balance and stability
SETUP: Lie on your side in a straight line, stacking your shoulders, ribs and hips. Reach both arms long, with your top arm on your top leg and head resting on your bottom arm.
1 Exhale, using your obliques to “bow” into a side-bend, lifting your upper body, armpit and legs; squeeze your legs together.
2. Inhale, reaching your head away from your toes to slowly return to the starting position. Do 6-10 reps on both sides.
TIP: Imagine that you’re in a toaster oven slot— don’t allow your body to tip or twist.
PURPOSE: strengthens and promotes stability in the core; stretches the hamstrings and calves; increases strength in the hip flexors; mobilizes the hip joints
SETUP: Lie on your back, and connecting in your abdominals, straighten your legs as much as possible toward the sky, toes pointed. Use your abs to lift your upper torso off the mat, and reach your arms to the outside of your legs.
1. Exhale, scissoring your legs apart, bringing your left leg closer to your chest and right farther away. Then, exhale to pulse further, reaching toward the outside of your left leg, but don’t pull on your leg.
2. Inhale, slowly switching legs, and repeat the pulse.
3. Repeat steps 1-2 with your feet flexed. Do 8-10 reps.
ADVANCED: Hover your arms straight at your sides to challenge core strength and stability.
DOS AND DON’TS
Learning to mobilize your hip joints by lengthening your hip flexors is critical for positioning on the bike, and will help create muscular balance around your hips and pelvis. Focus on opening the front of your hips in this mini workout, and in other Pilates favorites like Half Roll-Back, Roll-Up, Rolling like a Ball and Neck Pull. Here’s how to avoid making common mistakes while you move.
• Move the front of the pelvis away from the front of your thighs, creating a sense of “opening” at the front of your hip joint.
• Use the back of your legs—glutes and hamstrings—to assist in spinning your pelvis under.
• Allow your hip flexors to lengthen.
is the founder of Blue Sparrow Pilates in San Francisco and Oakland, CA, and an instructor trainer for STOTT PILATES, CORE and Total Barre. Blue Sparrow Pilates is a destination for teacher training in the San Francisco Bay Area.
• Hinge back at your hip joint, creating tension in your hip flexors.
helping teachers from all over the world develop their skills and become Stott Pilates certified. Furgason also publishes Fit4Real.com, a blog for Pilates teachers.
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