Strong core muscles are the foundation for many bicycle workouts. The core is made up of several different muscles, including the upper and lower ab muscles.
It's important to strengthen these areas, as they help you keep your balance when cycling, which is crucial for both professionals and amateur cyclists alike. Core strengthening exercises are also great for improving posture.
That can lead to less back pain and other problems caused by poor alignment while riding. In this article, we will cover what makes core workouts so effective and why cyclists should do them every day.
Best Core Exercises For Cyclists
Here's a look at six such exercises:
The plank is an isometric exercise that targets the core muscles. When performing this exercise, it's important to keep your back straight and not arch it. You can add weight if you want to make this exercise more challenging.
Here's how to do a plank:
- Lie down, and get into a push-up position.
- Rest your entire body on your forearms, and straighten your lower half. Bring your glutes up to prevent them from sagging, and keep your feet close.
- Your entire body, or most of it, at least, should be parallel to the floor.
- Maintain a neutral view, i.e, look wherever your eyes go naturally, (usually in front of you) so that you arent putting unnecessary strain on your neck.
2) Side Plank
This exercise works the entire core musculature. It also gives the obliques something to work for, as the entire body is resting on one set of obliques at any given time.
To perform a side plank:
- Lie on your left side, and prop yourself up using your forearm.
- Extend your right arm straight in front of you, palm facing down.
- Keep your body parallel to the floor, and make sure that it’s in line with the rest of your body (i.e., don’t arch or hunch).
- Hold this position for as long as possible, ideally getting into the 30-second range, if possible.
- Repeat on the other side once done with one side.
3) Hanging Leg Raise
Hanging leg raises are an excellent way to strengthen the core and back while building up the muscles supporting the shoulders.
Here's how to do a hanging leg raise:
- To begin with, you're going to want to hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip.
- Your feet should be together and body straight.
- Tilt at the hips so that they form a 90-degree angle with the floor (or as close as possible).
- Slowly lift one foot off of the ground till it touches just below your other knee, if possible.
- Slowly lower it back down again before repeating it on the other side.
4) Medicine Ball Crunch
The medicine ball crunch is a great exercise to strengthen the abdomen and back muscles. That can help support and stabilize the spine, which can become fatigued from long rides.
To do this exercise:
- Lie flat on a mat with arms extended at shoulder height while holding a heavy medicine ball.
- Keeping your feet together and knees bent at 90 degrees, raise your chest off of the floor by lifting both legs and hips off of the floor till the torso forms a straight line between the head and heels.
- Lower down slowly till you feel the tension in your abdominal muscles (do not let your lower back touch the mat).
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions, and rest for 30 seconds before repeating again for 2-3 sets.
5) Leg Swing
Leg swings are a great way to improve core strength, but they also help with hip mobility. That’s because you need good hip mobility to fully extend the hip (straighten it) when doing this exercise.
Here's how to do a leg swing:
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Lift one leg off the ground till it's perpendicular to your body. Slowly lower it down again so that both legs are straight out in front of you.
- Repeat this motion 15 times before switching over to the other side of the body and doing another 15 reps.
- Make sure not only that you are fully extending both knees — the calves should be as far away from each other as possible — but also that there is no rotation or twisting happening at all when moving from side to side.
6) Russian Twist
Russian twists are a great way to strengthen the core as well as improve balance and coordination.
Here's how you do a Russian twist:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Extend your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height, with palms facing up.
- Lift hips off the floor till the body forms a straight line from head to ankles (do not arch or bend at the waist). This is your starting position.
- Hold here for 30 seconds before performing reps.
- From this position, slowly rotate the torso towards the left knee as far as possible without straining or moving your lower back off the floor. You should feel slight tension in your abs when reaching the full rotation point (make sure the shoulders don't move along with the torso).
- Hold for fiveseconds, and return to the starting position by twisting your torso back towards your right knee till it reaches full rotation point again before returning back to the starting position once more.
- Repeating these steps 15-20 times on each side (30-40 total reps).
We hope this article has given you some ideas on how to improve your core strength.
If you haven’t already started an exercise routine, now is the time. You don’t have to do the aforementioned exercises every day or even every week. Just pick one or two, and stick with them for a month.
We recommend trying each one out for at least four weeks before moving on to the next one. However, if time is limited, go ahead, and pick just three exercises that work best with your schedule. The important thing is not giving up; keep going forward till you reach your goals.
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