When you think of a strong cyclist, your thoughts turn to that “quadzilla” in your group ride, the one with the massive sinewy thighs and gigantic glutes.
Unfortunately, despite having all the leg strength in the world, you won’t be able to use it effectively without a stable core! A strong core allows you to transfer more power through the pedals while improving posture and reducing the risk of injury.
The Importance of Core Strengthening for Cyclists
By its very nature, cycling predominantly involves the leg musculature. Proper cycling posture, where the saddle, pedals, and handlebar support your weight, relies on core strength but doesn’t provide the stimulus required to strengthen it. In addition, untrained core muscles fatigue quickly when riding, causing a progressive deterioration in form and power-producing efficiency.
“The core, more often than not, functions to prevent motion rather than initiating it,” explains a recent Core Training Study. That study also reports that “the core makes the rest of the body more capable.”
A solid core eliminates unnecessary translation of the body on the saddle, allowing all the energy you produce to be delivered into a smooth pedal stroke. The core provides stability that allows riders to pedal from a centralized base, using every muscle supporting their spinal column instead of just their quads.
The Core Strengthening Exercise Prescription
By performing the exercises outlined below, you are sure to build a solid core while eliminating the risk of exercise-induced injury in the process.
Important: complete the first exercise for each position in the progression before moving on to the next, to build a solid core while eliminating the risk of exercise-induced injury in the process.
For example, start your core stabilization program with #1 from each position progression. Once you have become proficient and confident in your ability to perform each with little physical stress or challenge, only then move on to #2 for each, and so on.
When you have completed the entire core stabilization progression protocol, not only will you have a firm trunk, but also a solid program with which to continue forward.
Core Stabilization Progression: Supine
Core Stabilization Progression: Bridge
Core Stabilization Progression: Curl Up
Core Stabilization Progression: Quadruped
Core Stabilization Progression: Prone
Core Stabilization Progression: Plank
Of Course You Would
If I told you that by following the exercise progression detailed above you would get faster or improve your cycling comfort… would you do it? With a bit of consistent time and energy spent conditioning your core, I am confident you can do just that.
For those seeking that last marginal gain, this oft-neglected area of performance enhancement may be the key. Trust me, it will be time well spent.
The Follow-Up Appointment
Stay tuned, as in the next edition of this series I will complete the cyclist’s total body strength and fitness program through instruction in upper body strength and flexibility. We will examine active intervention measures to keep you riding, training, and racing at your best!