Exercises to Strengthen your Core - For Cyclists

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Exercises to Strengthen your Core - For Cyclists

  • Training and Fitness
Exercises to Strengthen your Core - For Cyclists

When it comes to cycling, a strong core is vital to improve one’s overall performance on the saddle. A strong core does not equate to “six-pack abs”, however well-defined abs can be a welcome result of a strong core. An ideal way to strengthen one’s core is to dedicate a few sessions a week that focus on strength training, specifically training that targets the core muscles. However, this doesn’t mean doing a thousand crunches at a time - a wide misconception when it comes to core strengthening. Doing a million abs in a sitting will not do much in terms of strengthening your core, it will likely just strain your back and neck muscles while leaving you hating strength training forever. Read on for exercises that help strengthen your core (psst - no crunches!)

PLANK AND VARIATIONS

One of the most effective exercises when it comes to core conditioning and strengthening is a simple plank. To perform this exercise, lie on your stomach and place your elbows directly under your shoulders. Keep your forearms parallel. Bring in your core muscles by sucking in your stomach and hold steady. Lift up on to your toes creating a straight line through the shoulder, hip, knee and ankle joints. Don’t let your lower back arch, and keep your neck in a neutral position. Hold this position for approximately 30 seconds. Do three repetitions of the plank in a single session. Once you have mastered the plank and are able to hold for more than 30 seconds, you can add variations such as lifting a leg up while in a plank, or trying to balance your body (while in the plank position), with your hands on a gym ball/bosu ball.

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Exercises to Strengthen your Core - For Cyclists - 2

SIDE PLANK

Similar to a Plank, but like the name suggests - on the side. To perform this exercise, lie on your side with your knees straight. Support your upper body with one forearm resting on the ground and your legs extended out, with your feet stacked on top of one another. Contract your abs and raise your hips, make sure that your body forms a straight line from your shoulder to your foot. Keep your back straight. Perform this exercise on the right and left side of your body, holding the position for at least 20 seconds on each side. When you are able to hold a side plank on each side for more than 20-30 seconds, you can try a variation of this exercise by raising your leg (that is not on the ground) and holding it steady for 20-30 seconds.

C-SIT MOVEMENTS

The C-Sit position is undoubtedly one of the best non-crunch based movements to strengthen your core. You can add in a whole bunch of movements to engage your core while in the C-Sit position - we will cover a few in this section. For the basic C-Sit position, sit on a mat with your legs extended in front of you and your back straight. Bend your knees to bring your legs closer to your bottom and place your feet flat on the floor. Engage your core and lean back to form a reverse C, you will feel your core muscles working to hold your body in place.

Now that you have the basic C-Sit position, you can include the following movements to work and strengthen your core:

  • Russian twists: While in the C-Sit position, rotate your upper body from side to side while keeping your neck in a neutral spot. Rotate your body using your abdominal and back muscles, and not the arms and shoulder muscles. Do not move your legs.
  • Leg to Chest: While in the C-Sit position, extend your arms out, ensuring that your fingertips touch each other to form an “A”. Now, keeping your back in a neutral position (leaning slightly backwards), use your core to pull your legs between your arms - alternating each leg. Once you are comfortable with this, you can try bringing both legs in towards your chest. If you do try this variation, place both your hands on the ground for extra balance.

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    Exercises to Strengthen your Core - For Cyclists - 4

    BOAT HOLD

    A popular yoga movement that helps build lower-back stability while strengthening the core. To perform this exercise, sit with your knees bent and together, and your feet slightly lifted off the floor. Reach your arms forward and shift your weight into your sit bones, while drawing your abs in tight. Lift your chest. Try straightening the legs as much as possible, to form a ‘V’ shape with your bod. Hold this pose for 30 seconds; you can aim to gradually increase to a minute. Note: If you find the pose too difficult when you begin, you can bend your knees slightly to make it easier to balance and hold.

    Conclusion

    To conclude, strengthening one’s core doesn’t have to involve doing repetitive crunches and variations of crunches. A few simple movements can go a long way to build core strength. One thing to keep in mind though, is to make sure that all your movements are coming from the core and that your core is engaged while you work out. These movements are rendered useless (as core strengtheners) if your core isn’t engaged while performing the exercises. And always remember to breathe! Breathing right while doing these movements will make the movements easier and also reduce risks of injury. When it comes to breathing, remember to breathe out while exerting force.

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