By Laurel-Lea Shannon
You’re on a long bike ride—pedalling hard up steep hills, flying down the other side, barrelling along the flats. Your legs, like powerful, well-tuned pistons, push through the kilometers. Twenty fly by, thirty, then forty—at 50 kms, your legs are still going strong but you notice you’re starting to wobble in the saddle from side to side, your lower back is hurting, your shoulders and neck are getting tight and sore. You start losing power. What’s happening? Your ride has just been sabotaged by a flabby core.
“Most cyclists have marshmallow middles,” says boot camp trainer and ironman athlete, Kris Plant. “Road and triathlon cyclists need a strong core to form a good tripod position to sit properly on their saddle.” That means sitting on their sit bones—the ischial tuberosities (those two bones in your bum that make you fidget when you sit too long on a hard bench). A strong lower back and abs form the foundation for pedal efficiency and strength. Unfortunately, cycling doesn’t build core strength.
Why Do You Need a Solid Core to Cycle?
Strengthening your core will help you develop a good tripod position—making you a stronger faster cyclist. “For cyclists, that means doing exercises that target the obliques, transverse abdominis, lower back, hamstrings, gluteals, and hip flexors. The rectus abdominis—also known as 6-pack abs—are not as important for biking.” says Kris Plant.
A solid core:
▲ decreases upper body sway
▲ helps maintain proper bike form and posture
▲ reduces or eliminates shoulder, neck, and lower back pain
▲ increases pedal stroke efficiency
▲ helps you to use your leg strength properly and more effectively
Kris demonstrates 4 core strengthening exercises you can do in your home without any additional equipment. Do these 3 times a week for 10 to 15 minutes during the cycling season. Create a strong core and you’ll ride faster, farther, and more efficiently.
Plank─simple but so effective. Works transverse abdominis, upper and lower back
- Lie on your stomach and place your elbows directly under your shoulders with forearms and hands on the floor.
- Place feet about hip-width apart.
- Slowly lift your hips off the floor, keeping your back straight.
- Squeeze your glutes together. Don’t sag through the hips or arch your back.
- Hold for 10 to 20 seconds. Work up to 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
Bridge─works back, glutes, hip flexors
- Lie down on your back, bend your knees and place your heels near your bum (6 to 8 inches).
- Place your arms at your sides, palms down.
- Pull your navel toward your spine (to eliminate any space between the floor and your lower back).
- Squeeze your glutes, while you slowly raise your hips off the floor and push up from your heels, forming a straight line from shoulders to knees.
- Pause, then slowly lower your hips to the ground.
- Repeat 5 times and build from there.
Scissor Kick─works inner and outer thighs, hip flexors, abs.
- Lie on your back with legs straight, and place both hands under your head.
- Pull your navel toward your spine (to eliminate any space between the floor and your lower back), and raise your shoulders off the floor.
- Raise your legs 6 to 8 inches off the ground (you can start higher as Kris does here) and scissor them: left leg over right, then right over left. That’s one rep.
- Repeat 10 times and build from there.
Bird Dog─works back, glutes, hip flexors
- Kneel on all fours with your hands placed flat on the floor under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Raise your right arm while extending your left leg. Keep your back straight and your hips level.
- Hold for 1–5 seconds. Do other side.
- Repeat 5 times and build from there.
Kris Plant, runs a boot camp in Perth Ontario. She has completed numerous marathons and 8 ironman triathlons. Kris has 3 boys who swim on the Perth Stingrays swim team. Her husband is also a runner and triathlete.We want to know what you think! Scroll down to leave a comment.
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