Build strength from head to toe with this full-body circuit workout

Taking a break from the road to strength training can do wonders for your body. It will not only improve your strength, but also your performance when you get back in the saddle.

While your strength training might target specific body parts, like your glutes or back, if you really want to maximize your time, it’s best to follow a full-body circuit workout, like this one created by Dane Miklaus, CSCS, Founder of WORK Training Studio in Irvine, California.

A full-body strength-training program is absolutely vital for any athlete, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a sponsored one, says Miklaus. Runner world. Not only will it help improve speed and efficiency, but it will correct imbalances and serve as insurance against injury, he says.

The benefits of this full body circuit workout

This circuit was designed by Miklaus to strengthen all of the key cycling muscles (from head to toe!). It also saves you time, thanks to compound exercises that work multiple muscles at once. By using a set of dumbbells, he also adds more resistance, which helps him build strength and also increases the level of the challenge.

Throughout the workout, you get a combination of movements that engage your muscles in new directions and in creative ways, helping to challenge your body outside of the typical forward motion of your run. With each move, the goal is to stabilize your midsection so you learn to build core strength while working your entire body. You’ll also get your heart rate up throughout this workout, which will help build aerobic capacity in a new way.

How to use this list: Do each exercise in the following order for 45 seconds, resting 15 to 20 seconds between each move. Complete 2-3 sets. Each move is demonstrated by Cory Pickert, certified trainer at WORK Training Studio, in the video above so you can master proper form. You will need a set of dumbbells. An exercise mat is optional.

Miklaus recommends practicing your routine two to three times a week on days you don’t run.

1. Press Cat

Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Why it works: This move is great because it strengthens many muscles in one cardio-intensive move: shoulders, core, lateral hip muscles, and muscles around the ankle. This exercise stabilizes and challenges riders to move directionally in ways they’re likely to neglect, says Miklaus.

How to do it: Stand with your feet together, arms by your sides with a dumbbell in each hand, held by your shoulders, palms facing your face. Jump with your feet wide as you extend your arms overhead in a Y shape. Then bring your feet back together and lower your arms to your shoulders. Repeat. Land softly with each jump.

2. Incline Reverse Press

Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Why it works: Practicing this movement will help strengthen the stabilizer muscles around the shoulder, as well as the lats and triceps.

How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing behind you. Keeping your core engaged and your back flat, bend your knees slightly and rotate forward at the hips so your torso is nearly parallel to the ground and your arms hang directly below your shoulders. This is the initial position. Keeping your neck neutral and elbows straight, press your arms back and up so that the dumbbells rise higher than your hips. Slowly return to starting position. Repeat.

3. Reverse lunge skier

Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Why it works: This complex movement targets important cycling muscles in the legs and core, and will help build a strong core.

How to do it: Start standing with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. She hinges at the hips, keeping your back flat and steady, and bringing both arms behind you. Then drive your feet toward the floor and extend your hips (use your glutes for strength), as you lift your arms up and simultaneously step your left foot back into a reverse lunge, both knees bent 90 degrees. Press through your right foot to come back up, immediately returning to hinge position with your feet hip-width apart and the dumbbells behind you. Repeat on the opposite side. Keep alternating.

4. Push-Up to Renegade Row

Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Why it works: Push-ups are one of the most effective exercises to help cyclists strengthen their core muscles. “By adding a dumbbell row with this variation, the goal is not so much to activate your upper back muscles as it is to further stimulate core activation,” says Miklaus. That’s because your core has to fight to prevent the rotation of the hips.

How to do it: Start in a high plank position with each hand on a dumbbell, wrists below shoulders, core engaged so body forms a straight line from head to heels. Place your feet wider than hip-width apart. Bend your elbows to form a 45-degree angle with your body, lowering your chest and entire body to the floor. Exhale and come back up on the plank. Then engage your back muscles to slowly pull your right hand toward your ribcage, then slowly return the weight to the floor. Repeat on the left side. Continue doing the pushup and one row on each side.

5. Squat to Woodchop

Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Why it works: Practicing this movement “gets you more connected to your mind with your movement and your body, and can help develop agility and reactivity,” says Miklaus, which is what you need to tackle varied terrain. This exercise is also great for working on a different plane of motion, as it has riders moving in the transverse (or rotational) plane.

How to do it: Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, arms down in front of you with dumbbells together. Lower into a squat by sending your hips down and back, with the dumbbells reaching the floor. Then drive through your feet to come back up, and as you do so, rotate your feet and twist your torso to the left (keep your shoulders over your hips), bringing the dumbbells up to shoulder level. Lower the weights back down in front as you lower your back into a squat. Repeat on the other side. Keep alternating.


Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Photo Credit: Dane Miklaus

Why it works: “The goal is not only to lift both your trunk and legs as high as possible, but also to be able to lower yourself down with full control,” says Miklaus. This exercise targets the abdominals and hip flexors.

How to do it: Lie on your back with your legs extended, arms above your head with both hands holding a dumbbell horizontally. Lift your head, shoulders, and legs off the floor and into a V position. Slowly lower your back down. Repeat.

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