What is the “core”?
The core is the whole torso area, from the abdominal area, around the obliques and into the lower/mid back area. Here's an example of how this works on the bike:
When cycling we spend a lot of time in a static position. Our abdominal area needs to be flexible enough to lean over that far, but our back must also be flexible and strong enough to withstand that constant static position.
Why having a strong core helps cyclists
Stability, flexibility, comfort, power. All of these are important factors in riding on or off road. They are also all factors that are influenced by the core. Having a strong and stable core is vital for a number of scenarios:
- Withstanding changes in terrain (potholes, roots, rocks, poor road surfaces)
- Standing up on the bike
- Sudden and unexpected movement (dodging traffic, animals, trail hazards, people)
- Holding an faster, more aerodynamic position
- Staying comfortable on the bike and keeping the body still
Best ways to train your core
Rotational movement allows the body to move in a way that is like life and sport. Exercises such as medicine ball throws, Kettlebell swings, Medicine ball slams, hitting tyres with hammers, these are all ways you can build a very strong core, and is far more fun than doing 10000 crunches.
Building a stable core starts with taking that stability away and creating an unstable platform that the body has to adapt to. Exercises like standing on a bosu ball, standing on one leg, odd weight lunges/deadlifts, and lateral movement, all go towards building a more stable core. It does this as the body is working in a way that it has to counteract the uneven force it is put through (either by weight or platform).
Training core is vital in cycling for many reasons, and it can be very enjoyable. Give it a go, assess your stability and movement, and add in some basic core work. Advance it and watch how much your cycling improves.
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