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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Kettlebell Swing

Form tips

  • Set your feet with a shoulder width stance and the kettlebell about a foot in front of you. 
  • Keep your back flat and tilt the bell over slightly to begin. 
  • Hike the bell back between your legs while maintaining a flat back and straight arms. 
  • Forcefully drive your hips forward and open to move the kettlebell out and up finishing at shoulder height.
  • The first rep is from the floor, subsequent reps are a continuous swing without returning the bell to the floor until you are done. 
  • This exercise is a hip hinge, the forceful movement from your hips is what drives the bell up. 


A powerful movement that teaches us how to use our hips and gluts more efficiently and explosively. 

Overhead Squat

(Jo’s personal favorite)

Form tips

  • Set your feet in a slightly wider than hip width stance with a wide grip and the bar in a back rack position. 
  • Push press it up until your elbows are locked out. 
  • While keeping your lumbar curve maintained and shoulders pushing up into the bar, proceed down into a full squat and back up. 
  • The bar will stay just behind your head if you’re looking from the side. 
  • Your midline is tight and engaged the whole time. 
  • To warm up this movement and get comfortable in the position, start with either a wooden dowel or a PVC pipe to dial your form in. Make sure you have your technique down before progressing to a barbell, a 45lb barbell will be challenging at first. 


This is a tough exercise to master right away so keep at it if it doesn’t come smoothly at first. It requires a lot of mobility, range of motion and core strength to get down to a full squat while holding a weight locked out overhead which is why this is one of my personal favorites. This is more of a core exercise than a squat despite its name. 

Read more about Jo in our Prologue, or learn more about how to build a strong foundation in Part I of this series.

Photos: Chris Wilson//@chriswilsonphoto

Gym: Mètier//Capitol Hill, Seattle