Don’t let a weak core frustrate all the hard work your legs do on the bike. Here’s how to make those important trunk muscles strong. By Dimity McDowell
Your bulging quads and razor-cut calves are the envy of your pack, and you start every ride strong. As the ride progresses, though, your hips see-saw 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. 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.
To develop your core, try this intense routine. It takes only about 10 minutes to complete and focuses on the transverse abdominus, the innermost abdominal muscle, which acts as a stabilising girdle around your torso, and also on your lower back, obliques, glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors, so your entire core – and then some – becomes strong and works as a unit. You’ll notice that it skips the rectus abdominus, or six-pack muscle, because, it’s the least functional muscle for cycling. Do this intense routine, in this order, three times a week to create a core that lets you ride faster, longer, more powerfully – and finish stronger than ever.