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In today’s world, it is almost impossible to escape being seated for long periods of time. Most cyclists also sit down all day automatically shortening their hip flexors. They then take perfectly shortened hip flexors and put them on a bike to do something that causes them to shorten even more.

If this is true, and sitting down for long periods of time has a large potential to hinder performance in the saddle, then why do so many cyclists sit while lifting weights? Most of the time, you stand to pick something up. You get out of the saddle to lay down power uphill or in a sprint. Doesn’t seem to make sense does it?

Combine this with the recent rise in the popularity of seated machine training, and there is a growing trend of “a huge lack of movement skill in the population at large,” says Paul Chek, HHP, NMT, in his book “Movement that Matters”.

Our bodies are meant to be support structures which allow us to function. Functional training exercise programs are designed to enhance the body's ability to do this on a daily basis. Basically, if you do it when you are awake, you should do it when you exercise.

“Everyone needs power to move either in the athletic arena or in the real world, functional training will give you that power, “ says Juan Carlos Santana Med, CSCS in his book The Essence of Band and Pulley Training Companion Guide. “To optimally enhance movement patterns, people need to practice a movement, then use progressive overload during the movement.” This is the basis of functional training.

The biggest advantage of functional training is the body’s ability to move as an integrated unit, or concert of muscles moving bones. This allows the core to get involved to help keep your body safe.

Since you spend every ride producing power with a single leg, this is critical. If you’re the timing is off between the arms and legs, especially as you stand to pedal, you could leak power and waste valuable energy.

Sitting on a solid surface as you exercise, with a machine dictating the way you move can also increase the pressure in your lumbar disc region (low back) up to 90%, as stated by Dr. Mel Siff in the book Supertraining.

“Seated exercises always impose a greater load on the lumbar spinal discs than equivalent standing exercise,” says Siff. “Even without an added load, sitting with the back maintaining its neutral curvatures increases the lumbar disc pressure by about 40%. This is why standing exercise is a superior approach.”

One of the biggest reasons for the increase in disc pressure is the body’s inability to absorb any of the shock from a weight bearing load. This comes from the knees, hips or ankles not being able to help your spine distribute force evenly throughout your body.

If this is true, then why do traditional cycling specific strength programs look just like body building programs? Sit down and press, sit down and curl the hamstrings, sit down and extend the knees. How does this resemble cycling? It doesn’t.

Train your body to develop a rock solid foundation of single leg hip stability, and enjoyment of cycling will go up, as all of your times on your favorite routes go down.

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