5 Core Exercises That Improve Cycling Performance
Article Talking Points
4 minute read
- Boxer Ball Crunch
- Russian Twist
- Boat Pose
- You Should Avoid
Core training should be a part of every cyclists’ training.
However, we often see cyclist neglecting core training in favour of additional leg training. While the legs play a significant role in cycling, it is the core muscle that provides you with the foundation to ride efficiently and faster by enhancing bike control and stability. Other benefits of building a solid core include the prevention of injuries to the back and hips.
When you are cycling, you will indirectly activate your core, but it’s not sufficient as the main focus is still on your legs. To fully develop your core, we recommend doing direct core exercises (which we will discuss in detail below).
Improve your core strength and you will improve your cycling.
Top 5 Core Exercises for Cyclist
The plank is the best foundational exercise for our core. The plank develops a strong core to help generate additional power and stability while cycling.
- Here’s how you can perform the Plank with proper form:
- Start in the usual push-up position.
- Place both your elbows on the floor with your forearms parallel.
- Keep your body flat, engage your core, and avoid arching your back.
- For beginners, hold for 30 to 60 seconds per set and maintain strict form in the static position. If you have been performing the plank for a while now, aim to hold for 2-3 minutes.
Common mistake: Avoid letting your hips rise too high up or sink too low and put pressure on your lower back. The key is to keep your back straight and abs tight to prevent the lower back from arching.
2: Boxer Ball Crunch
The boxer ball crunch involves laying on a stability ball and activate your abs while making an oval motion in both clockwise and anticlockwise direction. Due to this active movement, the boxer ball crunch will develop control and stimulate the core more effectively than the standard crunch.
Here’s how you can perform the Boxer Ball Crunch with proper form:
- Lay, with the middle of your back on the stability ball.
- Place your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent 90 degrees.
- Place both of your hands behind your head.
- While maintaining a tight core, lift your upper back off the ball and move in a clockwise motion with your torso.
- After you have performed 10 clockwise ovals, rotate and switch to another 10 anticlockwise oval motion to complete the set.
Common mistake: Avoid pulling your head forward during the movement as it will put pressure on your neck and may cause neck injury.
3: Russian Twists
The Russian Twist is another effective core exercise as it targets both the obliques and abs. This exercise is used to build strength in movement and enhance the stability of the core due to its rotational movement. The Russian Twist is also an exercise recommended by the Track Cycling Academy.
Here’s how you can perform the Russian Twist with proper form:
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Slowly lean back until you feel your core is engaged and tighten.
- A general guideline would be to lean back at a 45-degree angle.
- Twist your torso to one side and return to the centre, before repeating on the other side.
- Perform 15-20 reps each set.
- To make this exercise more challenging, grab hold of a dumbbell and start twisting.
Common mistake: Avoid rounding your shoulders and keep your back straight throughout the movement.
4: Boat Pose
The Boat Pose is a well-known core exercise that develops core strength and lower back stability. The Boat Pose will also increase your ability to stay focused, a trait that will help with cycling.
With your legs and arms fully extended, you will create a “V” shape of a static small boat, hence the name “Boat Pose.”
Here’s how you can perform the Boat Pose with proper form:
- Sit on the floor, keep your legs together, and hands rest beside your hips.
- Keep your spine straight and lean back until your torso is at a 45 degrees angle.
- With your legs together, lift them up from the floor and extend your arm forward in line with your shoulders.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds.
Common mistake: Avoid letting your lower back sag. Always keep your spine straight.
The burpees are a killer full body exercise that also engages the core. The burpees involve a greater degree of agility, balance, and coordination as compared to most core exercises.
Here’s how you can perform the Burpees with proper form:
- Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you, just outside of your feet and be in a push-up position.
- Jump your feet in towards your hands.
- Jump into the air and straighten your arms overhead.
Core Exercises You Should Avoid
Avoid working your core by using machines in the gym as they are generally not a normal range of motion. While they might have a place in your workout routine, place them at the tail end of your routine and focus on the 5 core exercises outlined above first.
Developing a strong core is vital if you would like to continuously progress as a cyclist. As the core is a small muscle group, you can work your core 3-4 times a week as it generally recovers faster as compared to bigger muscle groups.
Here’s a recap of the top 5 core exercises for cyclists:
Plank Boxer Ball Crunch Russian Twists Boat Pose Burpees
So go ahead and perform these core exercises today!
Over to You
Let us know in the comments below your thoughts on the 5 core exercises cyclists should be doing to help in their cycling performance?