Gears N Gains: Resistance training for cyclists

The Importance of the Gluteal Muscles for Cycling Performance

By: Christian Lizarazo

For Cyclists, when discussing the muscles involved in performance, the quads, hamstrings, and calves, most often take over the discussion.  Although these muscles are important and should be a focus for any cyclist, the Glutes are often overlooked, underdeveloped and in the worst cases dormant. 

Dormant Glutes?

Dormant glute muscles can be an extremely frustrating thing to have as an athlete because even when training certain exercises that are designed to target the area, having this problem will cause the glutes to not fire or fire inefficiently. This leads to compensation, which ultimately leads to injury. 

Dormant glute syndrome has seen a rise in late, which may be due to the sedentary lifestyle that most people engage in on a day to day basis, leading to tight hip flexors which shut off the glutes. This issue is exacerbated further by cyclists as the positioning that they are forced to be in on the bike also leads to extremely tight hip flexors.  Before we discuss why the dormancy of the Glute muscles is such a detriment to performance, let’s discuss what exactly the glute muscle does. 

Anatomy and Function

The gluteus muscle is actually comprised of three different muscles: the gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus and each performing a specific task. 

Glute Maximus

The primary function of the glute max is hip-extension, or bringing the leg down and back. It is the largest muscle of the three as well as in our entire body. This is the power generating muscle that translating into cycling is when you are pedaling from the 12 o clock position to roughly the 6 o clock position. 

Glute Medius and minimus

The main function of the glute medius is abduction, as well as with the help of the glute minimus in providing stability for the hip and knee. Weakness here, leads to internal rotation and adduction during the down stroke or power phase of the pedal stroke. This ultimately leads to compensation which leads to knee and lower back pain as well as a loss of power. 


How to Awaken and Strengthen

    The first steps to improving your strength is by developing a mind muscle connection with the glute muscles and learn to feel when they are firing properly. Another important tip is to stretch out the hip flexors prior to any glute strengthening to prevent the body from compensating and limiting the glutes from firing. A simple lunge and lean forward while keeping the torso straight and shoulders back will lengthen the hip flexor and give it a great stretch.  


Glute Maximus Exercises

Hip Bridges:  While lying face up on the floor with the knees bent and feet planted firmly, push off the heels of your feet while raising the hips up and keeping the body completely aligned. Hold the top position for about 2-5 seconds and lower slowly. Repeat 10 to 15 times, for 2-3 sets.     


Step ups:  Grab a step or a platform that is roughly knee high, step on the platform and drive up with the opposite leg. Hold and squeeze the glutes at the top position of the leg on the platform.  Lower, switch leg and repeat. 


Glute Medius Exercises

Side-lying clams:  Lying on your right side, knees bent to 60 degrees, feet together. Open your legs like a clam. Go as far as you can without your low back rotating back. Perform 2 sets of 30 reps (done slowly), and then switch sides. KEYS: Do not let your low back roll back: you are trying to dissociate hip and low back movement. The form is very important. 



Summer is almost here!

With summer just around the corner what better way to get in the mood than whipping up some healthy and delicious homemade popsicles! Here’s a recipe I’ve adapted from the People’s Pops recipe book.  You can substitute any fruit - just be sure to use the ripest ones as they have the most flavor/sugar content (mushy and bruised is good!).


You’ll need to purchase a popsicle moldpopsicle sticks and guar gum (optional, but this helps keep ice crystals from forming and makes for a smoother pop - you can also use this to thicken sauces instead of cornstarch. Just don’t use too much or your pops will feel slimy!). 

Fruit Mixture:

  • 1 c. fruit puree
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ c. simple syrup
  • ½ Tsp. guar gum 

Yogurt Mixture: 

  • 1 c. greek yogurt 
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ c. simple syrup
  • + any spices 

To make simple syrup combine equal parts sugar and boiling water - stir until the sugar dissolves. If you’re just making enough for one batch combine ⅔ c. sugar with ⅔ c. boiling water (= 1 c.). This is the time to infuse your simple syrup with flavors like, mint, ginger, lemon etc… Get creative! 

Once you’ve combined your fruit and yogurt mixtures separately you’re ready to fill the molds (I like to use a spoon). Starting with the fruit mixture fill each mold ⅓ of the way full then add your yogurt mixture until it’s all gone. Top with the remaining fruit mixture.

Now take a popsicle stick and gently blend the fruit and yogurt together. This will create nice a swirled effect. Afterwards, place the top of the mold on and insert your popsicle sticks so there is about 1 ½ inches sticking out. Place on a level freezer shelf and freeze for at least 4 hrs. 

Once frozen, just dip or spray the bottom part of the mold in hot water for 15-20 seconds and firmly pull the pop from the mold.

Viola! Perfectly made pops - enjoy!  

- Jessica

Failure can be Part of Success

Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.
— Robert F. Kennedy

How we deal with failure plays a huge part in whether or not we are successful in achieving our goals.  Have you ever tried to change something about your everyday life?  Maybe you’ve tried to add a workout into your schedule, or maybe you’ve resolved to start making better food choices.  How successful were you?  If you were successful, how long were you able to maintain that change?  If you are like the majority of people out there, you were able to make the change for a short time.  Then something happened.  Maybe you had a rough day at work, maybe you had an unexpected conflict.  You might have had a child get sick, or maybe you caught a cold.

Life is very unsympathetic when it comes to making big life changes.  Don’t let the inevitable obstacles of life derail what you are working towards.  Definitely don’t beat yourself up over a missed workout, or a cheat that might have happened on your meal plan.  Whatever the obstacle take the following steps:

1.  Distance yourself from the moment.

2.  Realize that you aren’t a slave to your emotions or impulses.  They may be a part of you, but they aren’t YOU.

3.  Focus on the long term goal you are trying to achieve, and imagine how it will feel when you get there.

4.  If you end up taking a step back instead of forward, move on and focus on how you can do a better job tomorrow.

Significant improvement is the product of small steps taken every day.  Every successful person in the world, has had to endure some sort of failure.  Even the worst failure can be seen as a positive if you learn from it, and become better because of it.

Recipe of the Day | Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili

There’s nothing better than curling up with a hot bowl of homemade chili on a cold rainy day. Traditionally made with hight fat (60/40) beef it isn't exactly the healthiest option. So here’s a recipe packed full with flavor, nutrients and a fraction of the fat that you can feel good about next time you want something warming on a cold day.

This is by far one of my favorite recipes discovered on Pinterest (via  I like to add whole cumin seeds to the oil once it’s heated but before I add the onions and garlic - the seeds become extremely aromatic and add depth and almost a meat-like flavor found in traditional beef chili, more so than just adding the ground cumin. You won’t even miss the meat - trust me! Then I top it off with freshly made pico de gallo, avocado, sharp cheddar cheese (optional) and either low-fat sour cream or non-fat greek yogurt (which tastes surprisingly similar with more protein and less calories). I also like to serve this with Trader Joe’s cornbread - substituting the oil for water (yes, it works just fine - promise!). 

Vegan Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili - makes 6 hearty bowls of chili

one 29 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
one 6 oz can tomato paste
32 oz vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks (I usually use two!)
1 cup dry quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
avocado, cilantro for garnish  (optional)

Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium low heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and they start to turn brown (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beans, stock, and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper . Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the quinoa. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes – 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked and the chili has thickened. Add a bit of water if the chili becomes too thick for your liking. Top with avocado and chopped cilantro. Scrumptious!

Click HERE for the original link and nutrition information.