Many beginner and experienced cyclists are unaware of the fact that a solid core is the foundation by which all necessary movement, including their strokes stem from. Even though cycling requires riders to use their legs as their main source of power, having a solid core will eradicate the superfluous upper-body movement. This way the full force of the energy produced by your body will go towards a effortless pedal stroke.
Recently, I came across a 10 minute, high intensity routine, created by Street. This routine is said to have helped develop cyclists high-performance chassis by concentrating on transverse abdominus, the innermost abdominal muscle,lower back, obliques, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors. As a result your core strength will increase and begin to work in unison with the rest of your body.
It is recommended cyclists perform the exercises in this routine, in the order listed, for a minimum of three times a week to form a powerful core that promotes a faster, longer, and a stronger ride.
Core Exercise Step 1: Boxer Ball Crunch
Focus areas: Obliques,Transverse abdominal, lower back
- Place a stability ball in behind you, in the middle of your back, keep your feet flat on the floor and bend your knees 90 degrees. Place your hands behind your head, but don’t pull on your neck.
- Squeeze your belly button toward your spine and lift your upper back off the ball. Keeping your shoulders off the ball, trace a clockwise oval with your torso and apply pressure with your lower back to keep the ball in place. After 15 clockwise ovals, trace 15 counterclockwise.
Results: Street states, “This fluid, circular exercise builds control,” says Street, and that helps you minimize lateral torsion and wasted motion.
Core Exercise Step 2: Power Bridge
Focus areas: Hip flexors, glutes, lower back
- Lying on your back, with your knees bent and place your heels near your glutes. be sure to keep your arms are at your sides with your palms facing down.
- In one sleek motion, squeeze your glutes, raise your hips off the floor and push up from your heels to form a straight line from shoulders to knees; slightly raising your toes from the floor. Hold for this position for two seconds. Keeping your toes raised, lower yourself three-quarters of the way to complete one rep. Complete 20 repetitions.
Results: Hip flexors will be stretched in an effort to strengthen the connection between your lower back and glutes.
Core Exercise Step 3: Hip Extension
Focus areas: Glutes, lower back, hamstrings
- Lying with your hips and stomach on the stability ball, put your hands on the floor directly under your shoulders, and extend your legs with toes resting on the floor.
- Keeping your spine straight and shoulder blades back, as if you’re trying to make them touch, lift both legs off the floor while keeping them straight. If possible, raise them slightly higher than parallel to the floor. Hold for two seconds and then lower them. Complete 20 repetitions.
Results: This exercise increases backside strength, for added performance on the second half of the pedal stroke.
Core Exercise Step 4: Plank
Focus areas: Upper and lower back, transverse abdominus
- Lying flat on your stomach, place your elbows under your shoulders with forearms and hands on the floor.
- Lift your hips off the floor, keep your back straight and abs tight, while resting on your toes. Hold for 60 seconds.
Results: Planks build the strength and muscular endurance you necessary to ride powerfully in the drops or in an aero position.
Core Exercise Step 5: Transverse Plank
Focus areas: Transverse abdominus and obliques
- Lying on your right side, with your right elbow under your shoulder, forearm in front for stability, and stack your left foot on your right. Raise your left arm over your head.
- In one sleek motion, lift your hips to create a straight line down your left side. Lower your hips a few inches off the floor; complete 10 to 15 reps, then switch sides.
Results: Your obliques will become stronger and as a result will improve your stability in the saddle.
Core Exercise Step 6: Scissors Kick
Focus areas: Hip flexors, transverse abdominus, inner and outer thighs
- Lie on your back with legs straight, place both hands palms down under your lower back.
- Pushing your elbows down into the floor and pulling your belly button toward your spine, raise your shoulders off the floor and look toward the ceiling. Raise your legs 4 inches off the ground and scissor them: left leg over right, then right over left (one rep). Work up to 100.
Results: A comprehensive movement that connects key cycling muscles, the kick also builds inner-thigh muscles, which help you achieve hip, knee and forefoot alignment for a proper and efficient pedal stroke.
Core Exercise Step 7: Catapult
Focus area: Entire core
- Sitting with a slight bend in your knees, press your heels against the floor. Extend arms to the front at shoulder height, palms facing each other.
- With a straight spine and upward gaze, inhale deeply, then exhale and slowly lower your torso to the floor over five counts as you inhale. Arms are overhead.
- In one smooth movement, leading with the arms, exhale and explode back to the starting position. Complete 20 reps.
Results: This exercise promotes ultimate body control.
Core Exercise Step 8: Boat Pose
Focus areas: Lower back, transverse abdominus
- Sit, resting both hands lightly behind you, and lean back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle.
- Keeping your legs together, lift them off the floor as you extend arms forward at shoulder height. Abs are tight, as thighs and torso form a 90-degree angle. If your hamstrings are tight, you’ll need to bend your knees a little. Hold for 60 seconds.
Results: This pose increases the lower-back stability and core strength.