The Upper Body Workout For Cyclists

Stretch and Roll Out:


Complete 2-3 rounds of the first stretching circuit. Then do 2-3 rounds of the second isometric circuit before doing 3-5 rounds of the strength circuit. You shouldn’t need any rest between rounds of the first and second circuits. Take about 1 minute of rest between rounds of the third circuit.

5-10 reps each side 3-Way Neck Stretch
10-15 reps Thoracic Extension (Roller)
10-15 reps each side Kneeling Thoracic Extension
10-15 reps each side Child’s Pose with Reaches
10-15 reps each side Star Stretch

30 second – 1 minute Scapular Hold
30 seconds – 1 minute Dead Hang
30 seconds – 1 minute High Plank Hold
30 seconds – 1 minute Side Plank Holds

8-15 reps Inverted Row
10-20 reps Lat Pulldowns
30 seconds – 1 minute Wall Push

Stretch and Roll Out:


Neck, shoulder and back pain are common complaints of cyclists. This workout will help you alleviate those aches and pains. The first circuit will help you stretch out all your tight muscles from sitting hunched over a bike. The second circuit will help you activate the correct muscles to prevent pain and injury from riding. The third will help you then strengthen those muscles to get rid of any nagging aches and pains and prevent them from coming back.


3-Way Neck Stretch – Reach one hand behind your back and then grab that wrist with the other hand. Pull the arm behind your back toward the opposite side. Then lean your head to the side you are pulling to. Do not tense your shoulders and bring them up toward you ears. Relax into the stretch. Then change the direction of your gaze. Look up and hold for a second or two. Then look straight ahead. And then look down. Move your chin as you look and not just your eyes. Changing the direction of where you look, will change exactly which muscles in your necks and upper back that you stretch.

Thoracic Extension (Roller)
– With the roller in your upper back, drop your butt down to the ground and then lean back over the roller, trying to drop your head to the ground behind you. Change where the roller is in your upper back (moving it down or up) and then drop your butt to the ground and extend back over again. Work all the way up and down your upper back.

Kneeling Thoracic Extension – On your hands and knees, reach one hand down your neck and spine. Fingertips should be pointing down your back toward your butt. Then rotate your core so that your elbow goes under your arm on the ground. Then rotate open driving the elbow up toward the ceiling. Try to focus on just opening up your back and not really shifting your weight in your lower body. Then rotate back closed and repeat.

Child’s Pose with Reaches – Kneel on the ground with your toes pointed. Sit back on your heels reaching your arms out on the ground overhead. Walk your hands out as far as possible. Then walk your hands to the right as far as you can and then to the left to get more of a stretch down each side of your back. Make sure you continue to sit back and relax over as you walk your hands. You should feel this stretch down your arms and the sides of your back. You should also feel the stretch in your low back if you are relaxing back onto your heels.

Star Stretch – Lie on your back with a foam roller or ball to your right side. Bend your left knee to about 90 degrees and pull it across your body. Place your knee on the roller or ball if you have one. Place your right hand on top of your knee to hold your knee onto the ball. Reach your left hand across your body and touch the floor on the right side with your palm. Then open that arm back up to the left side, trying to touch the back of the hand down to the ground. Try to open up the chest as much as possible without letting the knee move from the roller or ball. Hold for a second or two and then bring the hand back across and repeat. Complete all reps on that side before switching. 

Scapular Hold – Stand with your back to the wall. Step a couple of inches away and bend your arms to 90 degrees. Keep your elbows in by your sides and drive them back toward the wall. Lean onto your elbows on the wall. Do not let your upper arms or back touch the wall. Relax your head back. Pinch your shoulder blades down and back while keeping your core tight as you lean into the wall. You should feel this move low between your shoulder blades. To advance the move, move your feet a bit further from the wall.

upper back activation exercise
Dead Hang – Hold on to a pull up bar or suspension trainer and hang from the bar. Your hands can be facing toward you or away from you. As you hang, do not let your shoulders shrug up. Keep your chest pressed out and your core tight. Your legs should hang down toward the ground. Do not tuck your knees up toward your chest.

High Plank Hold – Set up on your hands and toes (advanced) or hands and knees (beginner). Feet are together and hands are underneath your shoulders. Draw your belly button into your spine and squeeze your quads, glutes and adductors. Your shoulder blades should be down and back and your shoulders shouldn’t be up by your ears. Do not let your upper back round. Keep your head in line with your spine. If you really draw your belly button in and tilt your pelvic forward, your abs should almost instantly start shaking.

Side Plank Holds – Set up on your side. Prop yourself up with your forearm right below your shoulder. Beginners will do this move from their forearm and knees or knee while more advanced exercises may do this from their forearm or hand and toes. Whichever variation is right for you, make sure to lift your bottom hip up off the ground as high as possible while keeping your body in a nice straight line. Squeeze your belly button in toward your spine and keep your glutes tight. Do not let your chest rotate forward toward the ground or your top hand touch the ground. Keep your top hand on your hip or reach it up toward the ceiling. This move can be advanced further if you lift your top leg up off your bottom leg.

Inverted Rows –  Hold a suspension trainer strap in each hand. Walk your feet out so you are leaning back. The closer to parallel to the ground you get, the harder the move will be. Squeeze your core and glutes and press your chest out so there is tension between your shoulder blades. Then row up, keeping your body in a nice straight line. Row until your chest comes up to the handles and then lower yourself back down. Don’t let your hips sink as you lower back down. Also, keep your chest pressed out the entire time (do not let your low back arch though).If there is no bar or XT/TRX on which to do rows, do scapular push ups or corner rows.

Lat Pulldowns – You can do this move with or without a towel. It is very much like the wall slides except you aren’t against a wall. Reach your hands up with your elbows bent. Your hands should be on either side of your chest with your palms facing forward. You can hold a towel tight between your hands. This sometimes helps to remind you to keep tension between your shoulder blades and activate your lats. Reach your hands up overhead, keeping tension on the towel. Then pull the towel back down, pulling with your lats as you pinch your shoulder blades down and together. Repeat, keeping tension between your shoulder blades and using your lats to pull.

towel pulldown back exercise
Wall Push – Stand up against a wall and push into the wall as if you are going to move the wall backwards. Get up nice and close to the wall as if you are at the bottom of a push ups. Your feet should be wide to help you drive. Don’t stand up nice and tall. Get a nice lean into the wall and a little knee bend. Drive all the way up through your feet into your hands against the wall. Your core should be tight enough that if someone comes and pushes on you from any angle you won’t move. (To make the move more difficult, have someone actually push on you from all angles as you hold!)