At the end of July myself, along with our Vice President Jennifer Armen, will be riding in the Tour de Fresh to raise money for Salad Bars to Schools, an initiative that has helped students access healthy food options by providing over 5,000 schools with salad bars. This is the third time Arctic® apples has sponsored this amazing 275-mile ride, and I couldn’t be prouder to be participating this year.
This ride brings together two things I love: cycling and promoting fruit and veggie consumption. As a teenager, my Dad and I would go on overnight cycling trips, camping out along the way. While this will be my longest ride to date, it will also be my most impactful. I get to help kids have more access to delicious, healthy foods through salad bars. In my last job I worked with classroom gardens and saw how choice and understanding around fruits and vegetables makes kids more likely to choose them in their every day life. I am excited to be promoting healthy eating in schools once again!
But my excitement comes with a lot of work too! I am fundraising and putting miles on my bike to make sure I can fulfill my commitment to the Tour de Fresh. 275 miles is nothing to sneeze at, especially for a prairie girl not used to a lot of hills, so I have been working with a trainer to incorporate strength exercises into my training as well. I’ve outlined some of my key moves below but please keep in mind, I’m not a professional athlete or trainer and what’s right for me might not be right for you, plus my form isn’t 100 per cent in all pictures. I highly recommend working with a certified trainer to make sure you’re meeting your body’s needs and your goals.
Move 1: Kettle Bell Swings
Why? They help build muscle in the major muscles in your legs, plus there is a cardio aspect that makes this a perfect exercise for cycling.
How It’s Done: Not with your arms, surprisingly! Hold the kettlebell with both hands, standing with your feet hip width apart. With your heels planted and weight through your heels and balls of your feet, squat back, then explode upwards snapping your hips forward, engaging your core and glutes. This movement will send the kettlebell up into the air, let gravity pull it back down and squat back into the starting position, before again exploding into a standing position. See it step by step here.
Move 2: Romanian Deadlift
Why? It’s a great way to build muscle in your hamstrings, glutes and back, all important muscles when cycling.
How It’s Done: With feet hip width apart or closer, hold a barbell or set of dumb bells with your palms facing down. With a slight bend in the knees and a flat back, lower the barbell until it is about knee height to mid-shin. Be sure to maintain a flat back throughout this exercise for safety and effectiveness. You can get more details on proper form – and find out what’s wrong with my form here.
Move 3: Split Squat With An Elevated Front Foot
Why? This move helps with stabilization in your hips and core, strengthens your quads and hamstrings, and stretches your hip flexors, meaning it helps me build muscle while also relieving tension that can build up when putting miles on the bike.
How It’s Done: Place your front foot on a step, and step backwards with your other foot. Lower by bending both knees and maintaining an upright body and weight in your front heel. Variations: this can also be done without an elevated front foot, and/or body weight only. Get your form down pat by reading here.
Move 4: The Bird Dog
Why? It engages your core both front and back, plus it works your glutes and shoulders building stabilizing muscles needed for those long rides.
How It’s Done: Kneel with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Lift your hand straight out and up while your opposite foot reaches straight back, stopping when you are even with the floor. Pause at the top, then either return your knee and hand to the floor, or round your back to reach your elbow towards your knee underneath you. Get the full picture here.
Move 5: Glute Bridges
Why? This exercise works your glutes and lower back, strengthening them and reducing the chance of hamstring injuries while stretching your hip flexors.
How It’s Done: Lay on your back with your feet flat on the floor, under your knees. Squeeze your glutes and lift your hips up until your body is in a straight line. Pause at the top before returning to starting position. Get a different view here.
I hope you guys enjoyed this, I swear I did even if my face doesn’t show it! Wish me luck as I hit the road and don’t forget to support the Tour de Fresh!