Squats for Watts: 20 Minute Program to Boost Your Riding
Racer, rider, and skills instructor Ali Halpin returns to the Eliel blog to help us all get stronger with this at-home workout you can knock out in just 20 minutes!
By: Ali Halpin
As the days grow shorter and colder, I look towards different activities to get me through the winter months. I like to switch up the activities I do to gain strength, move my body in different ways, and to build stoke for the season ahead. In the winter months I like to do strength 3 times a week and pair that routine with a run, ski, or trainer ride.
I incorporate muscular strength, hand-eye coordination, and balance into my strength routine because these help my mountain and gravel cycling significantly. When riding off road, the terrain and features require you have quick reaction time and good balance to handle the changing terrain with confidence and grace. Below is my go-to 20-minute strength routine; it's a great full body workout fit into an attainable amount of time. I like to start with some cardio – a run or trainer ride are my go-to cardio activities. I then perform 2 rounds of the following exercises:
• Set of Dumbbells
• Plate Weight
• Yoga Mat
Hold for 1 minute
The classic plank! Need I say more?
Tip: Keep your arms facing forward versus creating a triangle with your arms. Focus on keeping a flat back and engaged core.
Side Plank with Dips
Hold for 45 seconds per side
The dips provide a little extra challenge. Dip your hip towards the floor – you don’t need to touch – and then back to neutral. If side planks are new to your routine, try starting with 30 seconds and focus on holding good form.
Tip: Hold static for the first 30 seconds, then finish the last 15 seconds with dips. Focus on slow and controlled dips; less is more here.
Plank Pull Through
If you have watched Nino Schurter’s crazy strength program, this was stolen from that! Work on your core strength and hand-eye coordination at the same time.
Tip: These are done on your hands, versus on forearms like a traditional plank. Place your feet hip width apart to create better balance. Work to keep your core stabilized and try not to let your core and upper body rotate.
Bent Over Rows
10 per arm
Rows mimic the movements we make with our arms to stabilize and absorb impact when riding. They are a great arm and shoulder strengthener for cyclists!
Tip: Sit back on your heels like you would a squat. Hinge at the hips, focus on keeping your core engaged, and maintain a straight back.
Single Leg Deadlift
8 per leg
This provides strength and balance! Start with no weight and build up. Focus on slow controlled movements.
Tip: Work on hinging at the hips and keeping a flat back. Be sure you are engaging your glutes! This provides strength and balance. Start with no weight and build up. Focus on slow controlled movements.
Squats with Optional Balance
This is great for balance and strength! I use an Indo Board, but you can also use a bosu ball or balance disc.
Tip: If you are new to this, start with squats on flat ground. You can then add in a balance board or bosu ball when you’re ready. Then progress to adding in weight!
Plate Weight Flips
10 per arm
I learned this one from some rock climbing friends. It’s great for forearm strength, grip strength, and hand-eye coordination! Grip strength is critical for descending while mountain or gravel biking.
Tip: If flipping is challenging, start tossing the weight slightly out of your hand and catching. Then build up to flipping the plate. For reference, I use a 10-pound plate weight, but choose what works best for you.
Hold for 45 sec-1 min
If you have taken a yoga class, you know boat pose! It’s a great core strengthener. I like to do the first half of my time with bent knees and the second half straight legged.
Tip: Start by keeping your knees bent. If you are ready for more of a challenge, straighten your legs.