Bike-specific Core Strength training
You can have all the leg strength in the world, but without a stable core you won’t be using it efficiently.
We know core strength is vital for cycling power, posture and injury prevention but what techniques should the time-pressed cyclist use for maximum effect?
Lexie Williamson, Yoga Sports Science® instructor, fitness writer and author of Yoga for Cyclists (Bloomsbury), outlines 4 bike-specific moves for us to bolster your core.
Firstly, what is the core and why bother training it? Contrary to popular belief it is not just the ‘six pack’ abs but extends down to the glutes (buttocks) and wraps around the sides of the waist and lower back.
If rock solid, this corset of muscles will create upper body stillness and brace the rider in the cycling stance for long periods, in more comfort. A weak core leads to slumping in the saddle and pressure on shoulders and wrists.
So how should cyclists work the core? Ideally in a ‘functional’ way using techniques that either mimic the cycling stance (Cat Stretch), get the legs ‘pedalling’ while the torso is still (Pedalling Forearm Plank and Pedalling Bridge) or get those out-of-saddle climbing muscles firing (Chair Squat).
So ditch the crunches and try these 4 techniques:
1) CAT STRETCH
The all fours sequence ‘Cat’ is a great place to connect with the core and also releases tight back muscles. Simply breathe in, let the mid back dip and raise the head and lift the hips. Breathe out, round the back, tuck the chin in and pelvis under. Hold for a few seconds here, drawing in the abs. Repeat x4.
2) PEDALLING FOREARM PLANK
Drop down into a Forearm Plank position with the elbows under the shoulders and forearms parallel, fingers spread wide. Turn the toes under and lift the knees off the floor. Breathe steadily while dropping first the left knee to the floor, then the right. Continue ‘pedalling’ for 30-seconds to 1 minute.
3) PEDALLING BRIDGE
Bridge is a great technique for cyclists as it reverses the flexed cycling position, stretching the shoulders, chest and hip flexors. Work the glutes in a cycling-specific manner by slowly raising and lowering the legs, switching from leg to leg. Continue for 1 minute.
4) CHAIR SQUAT
Stuck at a desk? Fire up the quads and glutes throughout the day by with this squat technique. Sit on the chair with the feet hip distance. As you inhale stand, stand up tall, push the hips a forwards and clench the buttocks. Exhale and lower down but hover just off the seat. Repeat x10.