Conditioning the Core for Cyclists
CONDITIONING THE CORE
Lower-limb resistance training exercises (e.g. squat & lunge) should be the foundation of a weight training program for cyclists. They strengthen the lower-body in a highly functional movement by simulating the hip and knee extension motions that drive the bike. However, recently a emphasis on core training has swept the professional cycling community. The core is the central section of the body, consisting of the spine; pelvis; hips and all the muscles that attach to those specific areas. The relationship these muscles have with each other determines how efficiently we perform. The muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and bones in the core all work together to stabilise the body. When the core is properly aligned and conditioned, the body can tolerate the forces placed on it during prolonged cycling without undue stress to any one area. In contrast, when then core is misaligned and weak; the body must make adjustments in order to compensate, creating muscular imbalances and a tremendous waste of energy.
The foundation of core training for cyclists is the concept that proper pelvic stabilisation maintains a neutral spine. A weak core inhibits power production because the pelvis is the “lever” for the cycling power muscles (e.g. gluteal & psoas). Therefore, if your lower extremities are not aligned properly and the lever is in an incorrect position, then power is compromised. The muscles of the core are also responsible for posture and power transmission while cycling. They are the link between your legs that propel you and your upper-body muscles that control and connect you to the bike. Their cycling-specific function is to stabilise your pelvis on the saddle so that power can be transferred efficiently to the drive train and not be lost with unnecessary hip and upper-body movement. In addition, cyclists spend many hours bent over in a flexed position with no rotational or side-bending motions. These countless hours put abnormally high forces on the spine. As a result, a strong core is required to counterbalance such forces.
Take Home Message:
Supplementing your training program with resistance training exercises, specifically those targeting the core can allow you to generate significantly more power and sustain a higher level of intensity for longer periods of time.
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B.Sci (Sport Science, Exercise & Health) (Hon’s)
For similar reference:
Doyle K, Schmitz E. Weight Training for Cyclists: A Total Body Program for Power and Endurance. Boulder, Colorado USA: VeloPress Books; 2008. pp. 143-164.
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