You don’t need fancy gym equipment to build total-body strength. In fact, you can target all your cycling muscles with one simple, portable tool: the mini resistance band.
This list of mini band exercises shows you exactly how to incorporate this small yet mighty tool into your next strength routine or preride warmup.
The Benefits of Mini Band Exercises for Cyclists
In addition to being affordable, lightweight, and easy to pack, mini bands strengthen muscles in a different way than both bodyweight and weighted moves. “Resistance bands provide a great stimulus with improving recruitment of stabilizer muscles that support larger muscle groups and movement at joints,” Yusuf Jeffers, NASM-certified personal trainer, and USATF-certified running coach, tells Runner’s World. For example, in the standing single-leg tap out, he says, the muscles surrounding the hip, knee, and ankle joints on the stabilizing leg have to work in overdrive to maintain balance, while your other leg moves through different planes of motion.
The benefits of this stability challenge? It works the muscles you need strong for the single-leg sport of cycling, helping to injury-proof your body and make you efficient in your stride.
“Increased strength in stabilizers means better transfer of power through the body and increased resilience in dealing with external forces, therefore helping to create a stronger, more efficient mover, and ultimately faster athlete,” Jeffers says.
How to use this list: Preform the exercises in the order listed below for 8 to 10 reps. If your goal is strength building, rest 90 seconds between each exercise. To get the heart rate up a little more, don’t rest between exercises, but take 2 minutes rest between sets.
For this workout you will need a mini band, and an exercise mat is optional. Jeffers demonstrates each exercise in the video above so you can learn proper form.
1. Standing Single-Leg Tap Out
Why it works: This exercise will help you build strong glute muscles while improving stability, one leg at a time.
How to do it: Stand with hands on hips, knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart and a mini band around both ankles. Picture your left foot as the center of a clock on the ground. Tap left foot to 12 o’clock, then return to center. Tap left foot to 9 o’clock, then return to center. Tap left foot at 6 o’clock, then return to center. That’s one rep. Keep right foot planted, with knee slightly bent the entire time. Repeat until you complete 8 to 10 reps. Then repeat on right side, stepping to 12, 3, and 6 o’clock.
2. Quadruped Leg Extension
Why it works: This exercise strengthens the muscles of your core, lower back, and legs—all crucial for strong posture and a steady ride.
How to do it: Start on all fours, shoulders over wrists and knees under hips, with a mini band placed around the arches of both feet. Engage core and extend left leg straight behind you, keeping foot flexed and driving through heel. Then return to an all-fours position. Do 8 to 10 reps. Repeat reps on the right side.
3. Single-Arm Plank Tap Out
Why it works: Planks are a great way to build total-body strength as they target almost every muscle. This particular variation will challenge you to maintain shoulder and core stability as your hand moves in different directions.
How to do it: Start in a high plank with shoulders over wrists, feet wider than shoulder-width apart and core engaged. Body should form a straight line from head to heels. As if left hand were the center of a clock on the ground, tap left hand to 12 o’clock then return to center. Tap left hand to 9 o’clock, then return to center. Tap left hand to 6 o’clock, then return to center. That’s one rep. Keep hips steady and feet wide the entire time. Repeat until you complete 8 to 10 reps. Then repeat on right side.
4. Three-Position Pull-Apart
Why it works: This compound exercise requires you to engage your core, which will help you build strength. Plus, it targets the muscles in your arms and shoulders, helping to improve posture.
How to do it: Kneel with arms extended in front of body, elbows bent at a 90-degree angle, palms facing toward each other and the mini band around both wrists. While keeping your elbows tight to your sides, engage core and pull hands away from each other and to sides. Slowly return hands to center. Then, while keeping arms bent, raise arms to eye level so that triceps are parallel to the ground. Engage core and pull arms away from each other and out to the sides. Then slowly bring arms back to center. Next, extend arms straight up so that biceps are near ears. Engage core and pull hands away from each other. Then return arms to center. Keep shoulders down. Return elbows to sides. Those 3 positions make 1 rep. Repeat for 8 to 10 reps.
5. Sprinter Sit-Up
Why it works: Practicing this sit-up variation will strengthen your abs and help polish your cycling efficiency.
How to do it: Lie face up with legs straight, mini band placed around the arches of both feet, and arms by sides. Engage core to sit up onto tailbone, while driving right arm forward and left knee to chest. Return to floor. Then, engage core to sit up while driving left arm forward and right knee to chest. Return to floor. Continue alternating for 8 to 10 reps per side.
6. Mountain Climber
Why it works: Adding mini bands to this exercise will not only test your stability but it will also help you build your core and hip flexor strength.
How to do it: Start in a high plank with shoulders stacked directly over wrists, hands shoulder-width apart, and mini band placed around the arches of both feet. Engage core so that body forms a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels. Engage glutes, quads, and thighs to keep legs straight. Initiate the movement by driving left knee in toward chest, then quickly stepping it back to plank position. Immediately drive the right knee in toward chest, then quickly step it back into plank position. Continue alternating for 8 to 10 reps per side.
Monique LeBrun joined the editorial staff in October 2021 as the associate health and fitness editor. She has a master’s degree in journalism and has previously worked for ABC news and Scholastic. She is an avid runner who loves spending time outside.