Core training is an essential for cyclists, but something that’s commonly neglected. However, two 15-minute sessions per week will make you faster and more comfortable on the bike.
Let us explain why, and show you a workout to try at home!
What is your core?
It’s quite a common misconception that your core is your stomach, however, it is essentially everything that isn’t your arms and legs, from deep in your groin up to your chest and neck.
Why do you need to train your core anyway?
Having a strong core is essential for getting you fast, and keeping you injury free. It’s also good for your posture and general wellbeing.
Power and efficiency
On the bike, your core is essential for helping you transfer power through the pedals in as smooth and efficient a manner as possible. If your core is weak it’s likely your back may rock and tilt as you pedal, which is simply a waste of energy.
Furthermore, having strong hips and lower back means you are physically able to transfer more power into the pedals in the first place.
Comfort and injury prevention
It’s common for cyclists to complain of a sore lower back or neck after a long bike ride, and the most likely cause of this is due to a weak core. Strengthening your core means the muscles around these areas are stronger and more resistant to fatigue.
Additionally, as your body is essentially one whole ‘chain’, a weakness in one part of your body, say your lower back, means that other muscles act to compensate for that weakness – so in this example, a weak lower back may lead to tight shoulders and neck.
Five key moves to crush your core
Fortunately, you can easily train your core from your lounge! You don’t need any special equipment, although the purchase of basic items such as a swiss ball means you can develop your routine.
Here are five great moves to get you started with your core training. Try building these into a 15-minute session, and do that twice a week. You’ll feel faster and stronger within a month, we promise!
This one is awesome for working the entire centre of your core, from your shoulders through to your abs and lower back.
If you’re new to this, try holding the plank for 45-60 seconds, before resting and repeating three times. The focus here is on good form, not duration of the hold.
To perform the plank:
As the name suggests, this is simply a variation on the plank, and works the muscles to the sides of your core.
It’s important to perform side planks and not just rely on the standard front plank, as the side plank helps address muscular imbalances. It’s highly likely that you have one side that is stronger than the other all the way through your body, from your legs through your core and arms. And when you have an imbalance, this can cause excess fatigue in one side as you rotate the pedals thousands of times every bike ride.
It’s not until you isolate one side and assess its strength that you notice any imbalances, and the side plank is a great way to find any weaknesses, and address them accordingly.
To perform the side plank:
This one is great for engaging your glutes, which aren’t technically your core. However, it also works your lower back and abdominals, which are key to your power transfer and comfort when cycling.
The glute bridge also gets your glutes ‘firing’. This is a term referring to how the muscles don’t readily engage if we’re stuck at a desk all day, sitting down. Firing the glutes is a great way for training the muscles to correctly engage and contract.
Try repeating this 10 times to start, and start increasing the reps as you become stronger. Perform two to three sets of repetitions.
To perform a glute bridge:
This is a great one for working a range of stabilising muscles in your core, in a similar way to the side plank. You need these stabilising muscles to hold yourself steady as you ride, and to prevent your back from rocking and moving as you pedal. Also, like the hip bridges, it’s great for firing up your glutes.
Try doing these 10 times to start (5 on one side, 5 on the other) and increase the repetitions as you become stronger and more stable when you perform them.
Perform two to three sets of repetitions.
To perform bird-dogs:
As the name suggests, this one’s for your back, as well as your glutes, shoulders and hips. This is a great move for anyone who suffers from a sore back after long rides, something likely to be brought on by weaknesses in the area.
Try doing this 10 times to start, and increase over time. Repeat three times
To perform back extensions: