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For this bike messenger, leg strength and lung capacity are part of daily business



Imagine Ride your bike down Michigan Avenue in Chicago, cycling back and forth between buses, cars, pedestrians, and one or the other coyote. Then imagine a winter storm hitting your helmet with hailstones and sticking your hands to the bars. Then imagine that you were hardcore enough to do this on a fixed-gear bike, a stripped-down road bike with no brakes.

That’s just an average work day for Nico Deportago – Cabrera, a 12-year veteran of the city’s bike courier industry, who starts his days at 5:00 a.m. and ends eight hours later after an uninterrupted sprint session that drains his quads, glutes, and lungs. Deportago-Cabrera carries everything that fits in its box-shaped, extra-large backpack. And he̵

7;s always in a hurry. “People always want things yesterday,” he says.

Deportago-Cabrera discovered his video game-like talent for navigating and dodging the car in 2008 when – with a flagging music career, a suspended license, and a daily cigarette habit – he got into the Apex courier service looking for a job.

The following year he took part in his first North American bike courier championships. The competition essentially consists of the Olympics for bike couriers competing for multiple levies in the Brooklyn neighborhoods. He won and repeated the feat in 2016 to receive sponsorship from Red Bull.

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Deportago-Cabrera needs leg strength, lung capacity and quick reflexes for everyday life. In his spare time, he prepares to practice yoga to keep his legs limber and use kettlebell swings to build lower body strength. And all of this helps him build serious stamina and strength, because cycling has the ability to really build glutes as well as quads (as well as core strength).

Deportago-Cabrera rides his bike an average of 320 miles a week, he says. Yes, his job is so intense.

Stretch like a bike messenger

Cycling (or even desk riding) can lead to sore quads and hip flexors. Try the wheelbarrow: kneel on the floor with your footballs, then grab your heels. Push your hips forward, squeeze your glutes and shoulder blades, and tilt your head back. Hold down for 5 to 10 seconds. Do 3 sets daily. Do you want more leg movement? Check out the video below to see the Bulgarian split squat, another movement that will inflate your lower body.

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