How to build core strength for cycling

April 02, 2019 4 min read

How to build core strength for cycling

We’ve been talking a bit about core strength recently and how exercising these muscles significantly improves your ride comfort and ability.

Your core muscles engage to:

  • Keep your torso strong and responsive.
  • Take stress off your back muscles (which aren’t very big or reliable for strength or endurance).
  • Position your body in a way that is comfortable and aerodynamic on the bike and hold that position longer.
  • Assist your posture off the bike, so you’ll stand and sit taller and ease the strain on your neck and shoulders.

There is another really big good reason to exercise your core muscles and that’s to look good. When your core is engaged the rest of your muscles respond as well, meaning your body works the way it’s supposed to, burning calories and improving fitness. It’s the more effective way to exercise for weight loss, especially for that little stomach bulge or the stubborn spare tire you might be struggling to lose.

We have included some gentle and effective exercises from core strength in posts gone by, this time we are upping the game a little.

If you have been doing the more gentle core exercises and seeing results (for sure) and you’re liking how flexible, responsive and strong your body is as a result (yes again) then you will love the following core strengthening exercises that push you just that little bit more.

Doing these exercises two to three times a week will not only have you riding your best and feeling ten years younger, but looking trim and terrific as well.

Benefits of strengthening your core

  • Better transference of power to legs
  • Great posture (on and off the bike)
  • Reduces performance injuries
  • Accesses fast twitch muscle fibres
  • Increases bone health
  • Total body strength
  • Flat stomach

Complete 4 sets, 6-10 times 

1. The Push-up

These are especially good for maintaining a stable cycling position but can give you a whole body workout as well.

  • Lay on a mat facedown, hands below shoulders, feet shoulder width apart, up on your toes. 
  • Suck your belly button into your spine (aka, engage your core). 
  • Press up and straighten your arms, pushing down through the heel of your hand beneath you. Your body should be in a straight line from head to toe (no slouching). 
  • Slowly lower your body by bending your elbows, keeping them tucked in close to your body, until your nose just touches the mat. 
  • Push up again until your arms are fully extended, keeping your back straight and your core engaged. 
  • Repeat 6 to 8 times. 

2. Hip Sliders

For this exercise you will need a set of sliders (also called fitness gliders). They will set you back about $15.

  • Lay on your back with your knees bent and heels on the slider.
  • Push up through your heels so your body and bottom are off the ground in a bridge position. Your heels should be directly below your knees and your back straight.
  • Use the slider to push your feet away from you (toes up in the air).
  • Keep your body still and your core strong. Hold the position for a moment or two.
  • Return to start.
  • Repeat 6-10 times.

3. The Pull-up

This can be done using rings or a bar. If you don’t have a gym membership most local parks have bars and exercise equipment, although you might want a friend to support you while you get started.

As well as a fat eliminator this exercise stabilises the pelvis to help transfer power through the pedals.

  • Grip the bar with arms shoulder width apart, palms out.
  • Lock your legs into a tight position to keep your core strong. You may like to squeeze your thighs together in a slight sitting position. If the bar you are using is not taller than you are bend your legs so your heels touch your hamstrings, feet crossed at the ankle. 
  • Keep your head, neck and back straight as you tighten your core and pull yourself up so your head is above your hands. 
  • Lower again slowly until your arms are almost straight, with a slight bend in the elbow. 
  • Repeat 6-10 times.

4. Squats

Squats are the ultimate core/body workout and they can be done just about anywhere with little space and no equipment. If your work requires you to sit a lot, at a desk or in a driver’s seat, do some squats when you go to the bathroom, they will get your blood moving and engage all muscles, especially your core and glutes, to help counter negative posture.

The split squat is a great one for cyclist who have a favoured leg and it can help even out leg strength.

The squat exercises below use weights for added difficulty. You can also do squats with your arms raised over your head, straight out in front of you or on your hips.

  • Stand with hips shoulder-width apart holding a weight in each hand.
  • Squat down keeping your back straight and raise your hands in front of your shoulders.
  • Engage your core.
  • Push through the heels and extend your knees and hips.
  • As you stand, push the dumbbells over your head so that the arms, hips and knees are fully extended in a straight line.
  • Slowly lower the dumbbells to the starting position.
  • Repeat 6-10 times. 

Core work will really target the areas you need most to increase power and energy on the bike, help relieve muscle stress, protect against injury and keep you looking great in lycra. 

Using your core to make riding easier? That’s freedom!


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