After a 16 year professional career racing on the road and the track and 3 Olympic Games, Jo Kiesanowski credits a consistent base of strength work to her longevity and versatility as a cyclist. If we’ve learned anything from Jo, it’s that strength work is essential to remain healthy as a cyclist, build explosive power, speed and endurance. As we begin the New Year, here are Jo’s favorite exercises that will encourage versatility as a cyclist and get you ready for all the races and adventures you have planned on the bike in 2018.

*Jo holds her USA Weightlifting Certification, USA Cycling Coach Certification and is a TrainingPeaks certified coach. We recommend that you consult a health professional before performing these exercises and remember that proper form is essential to preventing injury.

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Back Squat

Form tips

  • I am demonstrating the high bar back squat here so going into the bar in the rack making sure you’re even on both sides and getting it in that sweet spot across your traps.
  • Take approximately a hip-width stance (everyone is different so a touch narrower or wider might be best for you).
  • Let you feet take their natural angle - anywhere from pointing straight forward to turned out.
  • Make sure your knees are tracking over your 1st and 2nd toes as you squat down.
  • Going down so your hip crease is parallel (or close to it) with your knee.
  • Maintain your lumbar curve, no rounding of the back, if this happens don’t go as deep until you develop the range of motion.
  • Videoing yourself from the side is a good way to keep your form in check!


This is basic human movement, a universally great exercise to help strengthen your gluts and quads along with many more muscles!

Ring Rows

Form tips

  • Set up your rings, TRX or Redcord (like I’m using here) shoulder width apart and around chest height to start.
  • Arm and legs are extended so you have a 45 degree angle between yourself and the floor, heels drive into the ground, toes are pointed up.
  • Pull up so the handles hit the sides of your chest.
  • Keep your core and midline tight the whole time, really thinking about your body staying in a straight line.
  • You can scale this movement by lowering the handles (harder) raising the handles higher (easier) or by changing the position of your feet to more out in front of the handles (harder) or stepping more behind the handles to stand more upright (easier).

Kettlebell / Dumbbell Rows

  • If you don’t have access to rings another variation of this pulling movement is a one arm row.
  • Use a bench to stabilize one side, then while keeping your shoulders square to the ground pull the kettlebell or dumbbell up to the side of your chest.


Both of these exercises are great for cyclists as it’s a similar feeling to pulling on the bars. It’s good for developing strength and stabilization in our back, shoulders and arms as well as our grip and core stability.


Form tips

  • Set the bar up over the middle of your laces in a hip width stance.
  • Have a good strong grip on the bars just outside of your hips.
  • As you stand up, shoulders and hips will rise at the same time.
  • Keep a nice straight back, no rounding when you stand up.
  • The bar will stay as close to your body as possible – remember this with most barbell exercises: the closer it stays to your body the less chance for injuries.


Creating a strong posterior chain - gluts, hamstrings, lower back all benefit greatly from deadlifts. As well as being a cool exercise to make you a more useful person who can pick up heavy stuff!

Read more about Jo in our Prologue, or learn more about building a strong foundation in Part II.

Photos: Chris Wilson//@chriswilsonphoto