Many athletes eventually plateau in fitness despite good training programs. As a result, coaches, physiologists and athletes look into additional methods to improve performance beyond training alone. Areas such sports psychology, nutrition, recovery strategies, and cross training are hot topics.
The concept of improving motor coordination (the connection between the brain and muscles) is a common aim for many cross-training programs. The idea is that, despite zero increase in aerobic capacity, athletes can improve power output simply by: A) recruiting more muscle fibers and B) increasing the coordination/efficiency by which the body moves.
A cyclist may reach a plateau or the sense they are not producing power commensurate with the amount of training performed. They often report feeling a lack of connection to the pedals or a ‘detachment’ from their legs.
The good news is that we can offer some ‘free’ power to help pedal faster and more effortlessly!
A simple yoga practice can help improve muscle control, muscle coordination, and recruit more muscle fibers. Yoga is renowned for helping connect the mind to the body. A simple series of balancing poses coupled with cycling-enhancing poses can be ‘bolt on’ power for any cyclist.
Here is a simple pose one can do daily that enhances the mind-body connection:
Tree Pose (vrksasana) – Stand with your feet parallel. Lean to your left foot and turn out your right foot. Shift your weight completely to the left foot and place the sole of right foot into your inner thigh with toes pointed towards the ground. Draw your hands into a prayer position at your chest or extend straight up into the air. Look straight ahead and focus on your breath imaging energy from each breath flowing through the core lines of the body.
For additional instruction visit take this class on Yoga for Cycling Motor Control and Coordination with Tiffany Cruikshank in YogaGlo’s Yoga for Cyclists center.
Please leave a comment below on how yoga has helped improve your muscle coordination and control on the bike!
About Taro Smith, Ph.D
Taro is a physiologist, yoga teacher, and former bike racer. He designs specialty content for YogaGlo to benefit a broad range of yoga practitioners. He is the co-founder of Boulder Cycle Sport, a nationally renowned cycling retailer and 90 Monkeys, a professional yoga school. Connect with Taro on the bike via Strava TSmith and on LinkedIn Taro Smith – See more here.