I’m a Cyclist and Physical Therapist, and This is What I Do to Prevent Quad Dominance From Robbing Power From My Pedals

Follow this 10-step elastic band Glute Strength Training for Cyclists plan to activate and strengthen your glutes!

Quad dominance is the over-recruitment of the quadriceps muscles while cycling and performing daily activities. As cyclists, we spend a tremendous amount of time maintaining our trunk in a bent forward position, which causes the muscles on the front of our thighs (hip flexors) to tighten, and our glutes to lengthen. Glute Strength Training for Cyclists will counteract it!

The resulting under-recruitment of the glutes, hip stabilizers, and core muscles limits performance and increases the risk of overuse injury. As members of a primarily sitting society, it worsens the situation. A condition called reciprocal inhibition occurs when the hip flexors and quads dominate the glutes and rob their ability to produce power.  

The glutes account for more than 25% of our pedaling power, most significant at the top of the pedal stroke as we apply downward force. Ineffective contraction of the glutes hampers performance and can also cause the surrounding muscles to fatigue more rapidly to compensate for the weakness.

Moreover, when a cyclist hits the gym, they have their quads on their minds. They often neglect the other essential cycling muscles, but they shouldn’t. If your quads are burning when you ride, but you don’t feel anything in your glutes or backside, you may be quad dominant.

Counteract the detrimental effects of Quad Dominance by following this activation and strengthening program!

Glute Strength Training for Cyclists sidling clamshell exercise

Sidelying Elastic Band Clamshell

While lying on your side with your knees bent and an elastic band wrapped around your knees, draw up the top knee while keeping your feet together as shown. Do not let your pelvis roll back during the lifting movement.

Hip Abduction with Elastic Band

Lie on your side and align your body as straight as possible with a band around the thighs just above the knees. Flex the foot and lift the leg to the side, hold momentarily, and lower slowly to the starting position. 

Glute Strength Training for Cyclists hip abduction exercise
Glute Strength Training for Cyclists bridge exercise

Clamshell Bridge with Elastic Band

Start on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Brace your abdomen and perform a bridge holding it at the top.  Take a small breath and as you exhale pull your thighs apart as shown and inhale as you return to the start position. Perform the required repetitions and then keep your abdomen tight as you lower back down the floor.  

Fire Hydrant with Elastic Band

Start in a quadruped position with an elastic band around your thighs.  Hands should be directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Next, raise your leg out to the side as shown. Maintain a straight upper and mid-back as you rotate your hip outward while concentrating on your glutes.

Glute Strength Training for Cyclists fire hydrant exercise

Quadruped Bent Knee Hip Extension with Elastic Band

Start in a quadruped position, on your hands and knees, with a band around your knees.  Hands should be directly under your shoulders and knees directly under your hips. Begin by extending your leg back, with your knee bent at 90 degrees. Make sure to keep your core engaged and squeeze through your glute at the top of this motion. Bring your leg back to starting position. Try to keep your weight center and do not use your back in this motion.

Quadruped Alternating Upper and Lower with Elastic Band

Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips.  Wrap an elastic band around each foot. Extend one leg while making sure the lumbar spine is held still throughout the movement and not allowed to arch.  Extend the leg until it is straight as shown.  Reach with the opposite hand with or without holding a weight.

Glute Strength Training for Cyclists quad alternating exercise
standing hip extension with a band

Standing Hip Extension with Elastic Band

Place an elastic band around your ankles. With straight knees, move the target leg back and then slowly return.

Standing Clamshell Squat with Elastic Band

Start with a band placed directly above the knees and feet shoulder-width apart. Sit back into a deep squat and push the knees out and back to neutral in a slow and controlled movement repeatedly while still keeping good form. Be sure to concentrate on your glutes with your knees over your feet and your toes visible at all times.

standing squat with band
monster walk exercise with band

Lateral Monster Walk with Elastic Band

Place a looped elastic band around both knees or ankles. Next, bend your knees and step to the side while keeping tension on the band the entire time.  After taking sidesteps to the side in one direction, reverse the direction taking sidesteps until you return to the starting position.

Standing Clamshell with Elastic Band

Start by placing a band just above both knees. While maintaining a slightly squatted position slowly rotate one leg up and out from your body while keeping the opposite leg as still as possible. Slowly return to starting position and repeat.

standing clamshell exercise with band

Follow These Glute Muscle Activation and Glute Strength Training for Cyclists Tips

Activation exercises are simple motions to isolate and activate a specific muscle group. A quad dominance routine targets the glutes and spinal muscles to help you feel them contract and know they’re engaged and ready. Here are a few tips you can use along the way.

 

  • The key to pre-activation is waking up and activating the proper muscles by concentrating on a full contraction.
  • Take it slow and controlled, making each repetition deliberate for a maximal contraction through a full range of motion.
  • Focus on really thinking about the muscles you’re trying to activate.
  • Maintain constant tension through the band during all phases of the movement

 

Click here for a written description of The ZOM quad dominance glute activation and strength program.

 

If strength training is your thing and you want to learn more, check out this guide to Strength Training Cycling Essentials and these tips for Functional Cycling Strength Training.

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