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How to pros go about developing the strength to be able to sustain this kind of position (specifically the bent fore arms, not so much the flat back) for more than a minute and what type of yoga would you do to be able to sustain this position?

I ask as even after a bike fit I struggle to get past the one minute mark whilst trying to hold this position.

  • 1
    Rule #5, I'd say! ;-)
    – Carel
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 9:50
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    I could be wrong but I doubt it's yoga. Strength training in a gym is more likely. Tricep dips with a hold in the dipped position would be my guess at somewhere to start with minimal equipment.
    – Chris H
    Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 10:20
  • 1
    Ride your bike. But note that a few people have genetic muscle conditions that make your desired posture basically impossible -- McArdle's, MADD, fiber type disproportion, et al. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 11:42
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    @ChrisH You're assuming it's arm strength but I believe it's actually core strength. Cyclists are famous for having weedy arms. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 12:08
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    It's highly unlikely that any road pro would ever use any upper body weights in a gym. Any bulk added to the upper body reduces the power to weight ratio of the cyclist making things worse for them. It's mostly muscular endurance (of the torso, not arms) which is formed from simply riding. It's made easier by the fact that most pro cyclists have far less upper body mass (proportionally) than us rec riders. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 18:37

2 Answers 2


It's all about core strength, not arm strength. If you want to ride like this for long periods of time you should be supporting most of your weight with your core muscles - not your arms. Your weight should be on your sit-bones, anchored on your saddle. Then your back and abdominal muscles stabilize your pelvis and share the load with your arms. Your shoulders should be fairly relaxed and your grip loose.

I've have good results from following Tom Danielson's 'Core Advantage' book. It's specifically about core exercises for cyclists and has a stepped approach to take you from untrained to pretty fit.


Kevin's answer about core being used to hold the position is correct, but I wanted to add some clarifications about factors that can affect how you engage your core muscle when in an aggressive position:

  1. Total power output
  2. Hip position
  3. Overall flexibility (e.g., hamstring).

1) Power output

When you ride in an aggressive race position, you are usually at a high nominal power output. You will find that when pushing hard on the pedals, you naturally want to lower your upper body to counteract the force (Newton's third law). The best way I can describe it is that you are falling forward, but your pedal strokes keep propping your body up. When everything is in balance you will feel like you are barely touching the handlebars, enough to maintain control only. You need your core muscles to resist the forces, but its only basic core strength, nothing too crazy. Notice how bent the elbows of the riders are, you cannot support much weight for long periods of time with your arms bent.

If you are riding slower endurance paces (less total power output), you will need to shorten the reach and raise the stack as there is not enough pedal force to support your upper body in such an aggressive position. Here you will notice a lot of weight on your hands if your stack is too low. You can't look pro and go slow too without running into fit issues. The low stack height only works as a performance fit.

2) Hip Position

I know most do not think much about hip position when riding an aggressive position, but you need good hip flexibility so you can roll your hips forward to flatten out your back (blue rider pictured below is a good example). This makes it easier to engage your core muscles better to support your upper body. Try sitting in a chair, bending forward a bit (while keeping your feet off the ground) and see how easy or hard it is to support your upper body when rolling the top of your hips forward or backwards.

rider example

This passage from "Bike Fit" by Phil Burt (lead physiotherapist for British Cycling and a consultant physio for Team Sky) describes pelvis position.


Posture is the maintenance of a certain body position and requires appropriate joint mobility, joint/muscle coordination and muscular endurance. Limits in any of these elements can result in postural irregularities. Good posture on the bike required good flexibility through the hamstrings and the glutei muscles: this allows the pelvis to roll forward, keeping the back in a straight position while reaching the handlebars.

One major factor limiting the back's ability to remain relatively straight while on a bicycle is thoracic immobility: lack of movement in the middle of the spine normally results in the spine flexing too much. Excessive spinal flexion while on a bicycle will limit breathing and compromise your ability to stability your spine for torque production to the pedals

Note that not all the pros do this as young healthy bodies can get a way with bad position. For example, some rotate the top of their hips towards the back of the bike. This can cause some extreme spinal bends which could lead to back pain down the line.

3) General Flexibility

If you lack good general flexibility this position will be hard even if you can do 1) and 2). For example, if you lack hamstring flexibility you may not be able to get your hips into the proper position. In this case you may need to lower your saddle a bit (losing power) to make up for the lack of flexibility.

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