Endurance athletes often struggle to maintain proper function and robustness because of the repetitive nature of our sports. This is particularly true for cyclists who operate in a single plane of motion. Not only can a simple strength routine help prevent injury, but it will also prepare your body for next spring when you return to riding in earnest—which will lead to better performance when racing returns.
One of the most common issues faced by cyclists is lower back pain, often the result of a weak core. The following core strength exercises will help all cyclists address the specific weaknesses that come from hours spent in the saddle.
While planks are great, the following maneuvers will challenge your dynamic stabilization abilities in ways that will help you ride with more control, confidence, and comfort by bringing stability to your center of mass (around the hips). Conveniently, these movements are easy to do at home, without the need for sophisticated equipment or accessories. They will improve everything from power production to climbing out of the saddle to descending, especially on rougher terrain.
Workout of the Week: Off-Season Core Strength for Cyclists
Perform 2-3 sets of each exercise, starting with 15-second holds and progressing to 30-45 seconds.
Hollow Body Hold
- Lay on your back and raise your legs off the ground, bending the knees to 90 degrees.
- Bring your head off the ground, as if doing a crunch.
- Reach arms toward your feet, keeping the low back planted on floor.
- Extend legs straight at a 45-degree angle. Slowly lower the legs toward the floor.
- Straighten the arms above the head, keeping the biceps by the ears and low back against the floor.
Bear Crawl Hold
- Get down on all fours. Stack shoulders directly over the wrists; hips directly over knees.
- Raise knees off the ground, pressing into your toes.
- Don’t forget to breathe!
- Use opposite hand and foot to take small steps forward or backward, maintaining a stable pelvis.
- For a cue, place (or have someone place) a paper plate or other object on the lower back to help you maintain a stable position.
- Instead of crawling, lift one hand off the ground and tap your opposite shoulder. Drive the supporting hand into the ground. Do not allow your hips to twist.