As cyclists, we’re naturally focused on our legs. A ride can be gauged on how your legs feel, and it’s your legs that usually feel it the most after a hard ride. It isn’t surprising that most of us neglect the other muscle groups in our body.
I have tendinitis in my right shoulder, so not only did I ignore upper body exercises, I avoided them on purpose to avoid pain. As you can imagine, this resulted in an underdeveloped upper body. Last year I visited the physical therapist, and he turned me on to a whole bunch of exercises to strengthen my shoulder. I discovered that the exercise actually made my shoulder feel better, not worse. I also noticed that my bike handling skills improved as I got stronger.
I started looking around for more exercises, preferably something I could do without buying extra equipment that would clutter up the house. I heard a few people mention the One Hundred Push Ups website, and decided to check it out.
The program begins with an initial test, so you can see where to start out. I was only able to do a humbling 9 or 10 until exhaustion set in! Not only that, I was really sore after the next day. It looked like a promising program, so I decided to give it a go anyhow. The first week starts off pretty easy, with only 5 or 6 push ups per set. Five sets will give you 25-30 push ups total for the day, and you only do the program 3 days a week.
I’ve been doing the program for about three months, and I’m proud to say I can now do 50 consecutive push ups, the sets have increased to eight, and I’m doing around 170 push ups in a day. I started to see changes in my upper body after only a month. And like I mentioned, my bike handling skills have improved. My upper body can handle the bumpy terrain easier. This is important to me since I like to run a rigid fork on my single speed. Sprinting, climbing, turning, bunny hopping, throwing the bike around, etc. have all improved. This has kept me inspired to keep with the program and shoot for one hundred consecutive push ups!
One of the things that sold me on the program was the introduction. For one, they’re free, and you can do them anywhere. Secondly, they hit so many muscle groups. Here’s an excerpt from the site:
Push ups are one of the basic and most common exercises for the human body. Push ups are not only great for your chest, but do a tremendous job of defining your abs, triceps, shoulders and torso.
Push ups can be performed no matter where you are, and best of all, they are completely free – no expensive equipment or annual gym fees required! If you’re looking to develop a great chest and shoulders, you could do much worse than follow along with the hundred push ups plan. Your core strength will also go through the roof too!
There were a couple weeks where I slacked off, and only did 2 days a week. I noticed that I was able to maintain my fitness, but I didn’t improve. Improvement only came when I stuck to 3 days per week. It’s also interesting to note that my belly is shrinking, but I’m actually gaining a little weight. Thankfully the weight is in muscle, and I can use the muscles on the climb.
So if you’re looking to improve your upper body strength and bike handling, go check out One Hundred Push Ups!