Best mobility work to allow tolerance of a lower stack height?

Found the " Best Mobility Stretches for Cyclists" video by Trainer Road but wondering if anyone can suggest any specific mobility work that can help you to tolerate a lower stack height with time.

I have 2 road bikes and recently got a gravel bike, I was amazed at how comfy the gravel bike is and suspected it must have a shorter reach as I find that on my road bikes I’m most comfortable off the back of my hoods (short reach Specialized bar on one with 90mm stem, SL 70 and 80mm stem on the other).

Comparing the geo on bike insights I see that my gravel bike (Norco Search XR A1 50.5cm) actually has a longer reach compared to my road bike (19 Cervelo R2 51cm) 396 on the Search vs 369 (maybe a bit less as it has the short reach bar on the Cervelo). However as expected for gravel vs road the stack on the Search is higher 547 vs 530 on the Cervelo. I have had a bike fit on the Cervelo but while it is the highest end fitting in my area within ~10 hour drive, it was mainly focused on hip/knee angle and saddle positioning.
While riding on my road bike I can stay on the hoods and in the drops but its way more comfortable to do so on my gravel bike despite the significantly longer reach.

Rather than flipping the stem on my road bike I would rather work on my flexibility to increase the comfort on my road bike, I had always thought the reach was the issue but it seems its the stack. Are there any specific mobility exercises that will help increase my comfort for a lower stack height, maybe someday I can slam the stem or tolerate a more negative stem.

I would love TR (calling @Nate_Pearson) to release a few dedicated follow-along training videos for mobility and strength for TR subscribers. With so much science backing up the benefits of strength training it would be a great motivator, and indicator if these “systems” were included in progression levels. Especially during base or off season.


Even if producing in-house content, or partnering with a dedicated strength/mobility training provider isn’t possible, I would really like to have placeholder strength/mobility workout slots included in training plans. Even on a LV Tri plan I often find myself putting off a supporting workout so as not to impact an upcoming swim/bike/run.

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Best thing is to just do them, typically find any impact is restricted to the first few sessions until the body adjusts and you get past the worst of the DOMS, after that impact is pretty minimal unless you’re really hitting the weights hard. Which you probably shouldn’t be doing if at a stage of the season when swim/bike/run sessions are more important.

Also worth pointing out that doing some strength/mobility work is better than doing none. I.e. if you don’t have time to put an actual “workout” on your schedule, you’d still get benefit from finding a few minutes a day to do a few sets of exercises that you can do at home like pushups, planks, single leg squats, etc. Doesn’t have to be hard to be beneficial, and little and often is a good way to fit it in without too much extra stress (mental or physical).

For me hamstring and glutes has been the limiting area. I regularly do some of the stretching described here.

I seldom have any issues riding in the drops inspite of being 58 and riding a Cervelo SLC, if that is relevant in some way.


First, if you’ve had a bike fit on the road bike, but it’s not comfortable to ride anymore in that position, has anything about your physiology changed?

In terms of flexibility, there are several different kinds of flexibility that can affect this. I know that the “pro look” of a slammed stem seems cool, but it’s difficult to achieve often because of either hip angle or core strength. There a big trade off between the minimal aero benefits of ‘slamming the stem’ and the power gains from riding in a position with leverage.

There’s more than reach and stack at play here too.

Something to consider is to measure the setup, not just the frame geo. Setup takes into account saddle setback, stem length and angle, bars angle, and brifters positioning. I often do this the old-fashioned way (with a tape measure). There are two measurements I take:

  1. Cockpit length: distance between the saddle and the hoods, using the back of the saddle and the point on the hoods where your hands should rest (close to the top).
  2. Saddle to bar drop: how much higher the saddle is than the bar. Easiest way to do this is measure the height of the saddle above the floor, and the height of the bar tops (at the brifters) above the floor, and calculate the difference…

I’d personally just make the road bike fit more like the gravel bike, because comfort makes for better longer rides, but to each their own!

The comfort of the road bike hasn’t changed, I just found the gravel bike more comfortable. I find the Cervelo (51cm) more comfortable than my 2010 Tarmac (52cm) that I used as a winter bike and now have on the trainer, I put a 80mm stem on the Tarmac and SL70 bars to shorten the reach up but still find the Cervelo feels better (had bike fit done on both), looking at the fit numbers the saddle to bar drop is less on the Cervelo compared to the Tarmac (visually the gravel bike looks like it has more than the Cervelo). Comparing the Cervelo and Tarmac saddle tip to shifter is 4 cm longer on the Tarmac but they have different saddles with the Tarmac having a shorter saddle so maybe that distance would be closer if measured from back of saddle.

It’s not that my road bikes are fitting me worse or I am finding them less comfortable, its more I also thought reach was my limiter in getting low and stretched out on the bike but the gravel bike has significantly more reach (would have to have it fitted to compare directly) and feels more comfy.

So I would like to work on my mobility to handle a more aggressive positioning, maybe allow me to maintain the same level of comfort on both the gravel and road bikes but in a more aggressive position. I both gravel and road races or after long rides I don’t find my back bothers me or I can’t maintain position. I found in my last long gravel ride though that I did get some numbness from the stock saddle after spending over an hour mostly in the drops (I generally ride saddles with cut outs so if I swap it out I’m sure it wouldn’t be an issue) but haven’t experienced that issue previously on the bike or with that saddle.