No Gym Needed: 5 Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Cyclists

Author: Kier

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If you want to improve your cycling performance without having to spend half your life in the gym, we can help.

Trying to fit regular gym visits into a hectic lifestyle can be challenging. Between work and family commitments, it can be hard enough to find the time to get out on your bike.

This article will explore some of the best bodyweight exercises for cyclists that can be used to improve performance. These exercises can be carried out in the comfort of your own home without specialist equipment.

a cyclist doing bodyweight exercises for cyclists to improve his performance

Key Takeaways

  • Bodyweight exercises save you time and money
  • Don’t require investment in specialist equipment
  • Bodyweight training does not require you to have an expensive gym membership
  • Improves your cycling performance
  • Improves your general health and well being

Bodyweight Exercises for Cyclists

Exploring ways to exercise using your own body weight can be life-changing. Not only can it be done when you find yourself with a little spare time here or there, but it can also improve your cycling performance.

There are many benefits to using body-weight exercises, but which are best for cyclists? The last thing you want is to work on the wrong areas and not enjoy the benefits.


Squats are a natural movement that most people will do from a young age when they pick something up with their knees bent. As we get older, we tend to do this less until it becomes a struggle.

The movement requires both legs’ muscles to work hard and also engages the upper body and core.

Your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps will be engaged when properly performing a squat. This ensures multiple areas are worked.

Regular squats will help to build leg muscles and improve movement, which will minimize the risk of injury while cycling.

The ‘Air Squat’ does not require additional equipment and is perfect for beginners. It will help to engage the muscles we have already mentioned and get the blood pumping.

To properly perform an air squat, follow these steps:

Step 1

Ensure your feet are positioned at hip width and stand upright. You must ensure your feet remain firmly planted during the exercise. This means that your heels and toes should be in contact with the ground.

You will recognize bad form if your feet are beginning to move.

cyclist burpees 1

Step 2

Take a deep breath and compress the air in your stomach area. It may feel like you are trying to pull your belly inwards towards your spine.

Step 3

Slowly begin to recede your hips while tensing your abdomen. You should gently lower your torso so your hips dip below your knees.

cyclist doing squat step 4

Step 4

Ensure your knees remain in position as you lower yourself down. Poor form will see your knees move inside or over your toes. This should be avoided as it can lead to injury.

cyclist doing squat 3

Step 5

Lift hips to your original position by straightening up and tensing your glutes.

Doing 4 or 5 sets of 10 to 12 squats is a good workout. Trying to move at a steady pace and holding your pause for a minimum of 4 seconds will ensure you get the most benefit.

A break between sets of no longer than one minute is advised to fully engage your muscles.

As you progress you may want to stretch the pause out for a bit longer. While the downward motion should be steady and controlled, the upward rise can be quicker.

Goblet squats are a similar exercise but make use of an additional weight such as dumbbells or a kettlebell. Yes – i know that ‘gym equipment’ but you could also use whatever you have available – water bottles, salt blocks, tin can. Even a small child (maybe not!(.

Single-leg squats are also great single-leg exercises. However, squatting using one leg is challenging and is a more advanced option for strength training.


The reverse lunge is one of the best exercises that can help to strengthen key areas for cyclists.

The muscles it targets help to control the hip, knee, and ankle joints. The range of movement performed in a lunge is also similar to the pedal stroke when cycling.

To properly perform a traditional reverse lunge, follow the steps below:

Step 1

Begin by positioning your feet shoulder-width apart before shifting your weight to your left foot.

cyclist burpees 1

Step 2

As you balance on your left leg, step the right foot back while bending the left hip, knee, and ankle.

You can then lower your body until the back knee hovers just above the ground.

Your front thigh should be parallel to the ground as you complete this maneuver.

Step 3

Securely press your left foot down and raise yourself up to your starting position.

cycling doing step 4 of lunges

Step 4

You can now switch legs and repeat the process.

It is important that you ensure your core is engaged during this process. This can be done by keeping a good posture with your chest open.

As you move down, you can lean slightly forward but keep your core engaged. This will work more as a hinge than bending and curving your back. Keeping your eyes looking straight ahead can help with keeping this in control.

As you are straightening back up, you should ensure the front leg is doing the work. It is a common mistake to push off with the back leg. The majority of the weight should be on the front leg.

You should also keep the front foot firmly on the ground. Raising your heel can cause stress to your knee joint.


Many people might think that cyclists don’t have to think about their upper body strength. However, a strong core and upper body are essential to good cycling performance.

Push-ups can be the perfect way to work your upper body without adding bulk or requiring an expensive pull-up bar. To properly perform a push-up, follow the steps below:

Step 1

Position your hands flat on the floor slightly wider than your shoulds. Your body should be in the high plank position with your body in a straight line.

push up step 1

Step 2

Look slightly ahead of your hands so your neck is in a comfortable position and engage your core and glutes.

Step 3

Bend your elbows while keeping your body straight and holding your core.

Step 4

Straighten your elbows to lift yourself back up to the high plank position and repeat for your pre-determined amount of sets.

When doing your push-ups try to keep the body straight. It can be easy for you to push your glutes out as you push up, but this will result in poor form.

cyclist planking front view


Core strength is essential to your cycling performance. To improve your core strength and learn how to properly plank, follow the steps below:

Step 1

Kneel down on all fours before lying your forearms palm down on the ground. You should position your elbows beneath your shoulders.

push up step 1

Step 2

While engaging your core you can move your feet back so your body is straight out. Line your hips with your shoulders at this point.

side view of cyclist planking

Step 3

Your body will be in a straight line now and you should hold the position.

Multiple sets of 10 to 30 seconds will benefit your workout. It doesn’t have to be a long feat of endurance.

cyclist planking 2


Burpees are a full body exercise that works your:

  • Core
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Chest
  • Hip flexors
  • Arms
  • Quads

They can be quite a frenetic exercise so it is essential that you do them right to avoid injury. To properly perform a burpee, follow the steps below:

Step 1

Start in a standing position with your feet at shoulder width.

cyclist burpees 1

Step 2

Lower your hips into a deep squat with your hands touching the floor in front of you.


Step 3

Jump your feet back so your body is in a plank position.


Step 4

When your body is engaged in the plank position, bend your elbows and lower your body so it touches the ground, as you would for a push up.

cyclist planking front view

Step 5

Rise back up to the plank position and jump your feet back to the squat position.

cyclist doing burpees step 2

Step 6

Stand or jump back to the original starting position before repeating the process.

cyclist doing burpees step 3

Sample Bodyweight Workout for Cyclists

  1. 5 x sets of 10 squats
  2. 4 x sets of 15 lunges
  3. 3 x sets of 10 push-ups
  4. 3 x 30-second plank sets
  5. 4 x sets of 10 burpees


How long should body-weight exercises for cyclists be?

Dedicating around 15 to 20 minutes to bodyweight workouts every day should improve your cycling performance.

How long should I rest between bodyweight workout sets?

You should rest between 1 and 2 minutes between sets during a bodyweight workout.

Should I do the same body-weight exercises every day?

Alternating bodyweight workout routines can minimize the risk of overworking muscle groups. It will also make it more interesting for you.

Photo of author


Kier focuses on improving all things bike, and is always looking to take his ability to a new average (hopefully a higher one!). When not on the bike Kier is normally downing coffee and cake.
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