An Active Approach to Cycling Injuries: Core Strengthening

An Active Approach to Cycling Injuries: Core Strengthening

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

Find the Zwift Insider Core Stabilization Supine Progression Complete with Exercise Descriptions >

Core Stabilization Progression: Bridge

Find the Zwift Insider Core Stabilization Bridging Progression Complete with Exercise Descriptions >

Core Stabilization Progression: Curl Up

Find the Zwift Insider Core Stabilization Curl Up Progression Complete with Exercise Descriptions >

Core Stabilization Progression: Quadruped

Find the Zwift Insider Core Stabilization Quadruped Progression Complete with Exercise Descriptions >

Core Stabilization Progression: Prone

Find the Zwift Insider Core Stabilization Prone Progression Complete with Exercise Descriptions >

Core Stabilization Progression: Plank

Find the Zwift Insider Core Stabilization Plank Progression Complete with Exercise Descriptions >

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!

About The Author

Christopher Schwenker

Chris is a semi-retired physical therapist who, following more than 25 years in solo private practice, considers himself blessed to combine a passion for cycling and creative writing in pursuit of his next life goal. He lives on the North Fork of Long Island with his beautiful wife and two university student children.

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Sara Lance
Sara Lance
9 months ago

Chris, you have outdone yourself today! this is incredible. I eagerly look forward to each weeks episode . Continue to inspire us with your incredible work. Thanks again and Ride on!

Bob
Bob
9 months ago

hey, thank you for the instructions. Quick feedback, could you alter the images as they’re rather difficult to view on mobile (the opacity of the backgrounds on each slide)

Johnny5ivetherobot
Johnny5ivetherobot
8 months ago

Nice! Like the new format with the links. Thanks a ton for sharing this valuable resource Christopher.

Mr Tomas c jenkins
Mr Tomas c jenkins
8 months ago

Can the exercises be done after an easyish Zwift ride or do you recommend doing these as a standalone activity

Tim
Tim
8 months ago

Been meaning to do some work on my core strength for ages, thanks for this, definitely going to give the progression a go!

Diogo
Diogo
8 months ago

For me, one of the most important body parts. We see so many cyclists balancing too much their body while riding or just spinning their legs.
Core activation, simulationd strengthening is very important.

Thanks a lot for this Chris!

Diogo, Portugal

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