By Kim Duke, NETA & AAFA Certified Trainer
With the spring and summer season upon us, you can’t help but notice many folks out for a bike ride. Whether you’re on a cruiser, a mountain bike, or a dialed-in road racer, your fitness level will impact your enjoyment of the ride.
Even if you feel you have strong and sturdy legs, as your ride progresses, your hips seesaw in the saddle, your lower back aches, and you slow in corners. The problem? Your core cries “uncle” long before your legs wear out. Although a cyclist’s legs provide the most tangible source of power, the abs and lower back are the vital foundation from which all movement, including the pedal stroke, stems.
“You can have all the leg strength in the world, but without a stable core, you won’t be able to use it efficiently,” says Graeme Street, founder of Cyclo-CORE, a DVD-based training program, and a personal trainer in Essex, CT. “It’s like having the body of a Ferrari with a Fiat chassis underneath.”
What’s more, a solid core will help eliminate unnecessary upper-body movement, so that all the energy you produce is delivered into a smooth pedal stroke.
Sadly, cycling’s tripod position, in which the saddle, pedals and handlebar support your weight, relies on core strength, but doesn’t build it. The following are some of the reliable core exercises that, if done on a consistent basis, will strengthen your core and your overall enjoyment and performance while cycling.
The Plank — the plank is a static exercise the builds tremendous core strength and mental focus.
Six Inches — Six Inches is a static exercise that works your abdominals, since you use them to hold your feet “six inches” in the air.
Scissor Kick—Taking Six Inches to a new level, you are now working your abs and hips to move your legs like scissors.
Transverse Plank — The Transverse Plank puts you on your side to work your obliques.
Boat Pose — The Boat Pose is another static exercise that puts a big focus on your abs and really works them.
Power Bridge — The Power Bridge works your glutes and lower back with some pelvic thrust action.
Hip Extension — The hip extension works your core, especially your lower back.
Mountain Climber — you’ll be climbing mountains in no time with the quick and powerful legs you’ll build from these movements.
Super Mans — It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s a cyclist working his lower back muscles.