Are your Glutes working and are they strong enough?
Whether you’re a flatlands specialist, a mountain goat or something in between, there’s a fair chance you’d like to be a little stronger when it comes to climbing. And while there’s no quick fix, there are certainly things you can do to make yourself that little bit more competitive when the road heads up.
For those embarking on the many events that pit you against gravity, climbing faster could definitely be in your thoughts.
As a cyclist, having glute strength should be one of your major focuses. To ride well, and climb well, you need gluteal strength. Your glutes, along with your quads are large strong muscles that provide the majority of power to the pedals.
It is very common for riders to not use their glutes enough or at all. Those who can’t activate their glutes at all ride predominantly with their quads and hamstrings and are missing out on a massive amount of power that could be used for each pedal stroke. You can pick riders who don’t use their glutes as they have over-developed quads and hamstrings and under-developed glutes.
One of the ways of seeing if your glutes are working independently of your hamstrings is to lie on the floor with your foot against a Swiss ball with the ball against a wall, with your leg slightly bent. The other leg lies on the floor alongside the Swiss ball.
Gently push against the Swiss ball and feel if your glutes are contracting without your hamstring being used. You will need to put one hand on your hamstring and the other under your butt and feel for the contraction.
There are many other exercises to assess your level of glute activation and help teach you to use them better. Quite simply, glute activation and strength has better power consequences than buying a set of Zipps!
Big power gains can be had by strengthening your glutes, as well as your core and improving your stability so you aren’t losing power with every pedal stroke.