At the start line of a bike race you'll see plenty of bulging quadriceps and chiseled calves. After all, the stronger your legs are, the faster you'll be, right?
While the legs are a major source of power in cycling, the muscles that make up the core are the foundation. This is where all movement begins, including the circular motion of pedaling.
A solid base that supports your pedal stroke will allow you to ride faster and for greater distances. It will improve your form, prevent fatigue, and eliminate unnecessary aches and pains. As your core becomes stronger, your efficiency will also improve, which will allow you to transfer a majority of your energy to your pedal stroke.
Try these five core exercises three times per week to build a solid foundation for the rest of your cycling regimen.
Muscles utilized: Transverse abdominus, upper and lower back.
How it will help: Strengthening the back muscles will help to generate more power in aerodynamic positions (drops, aero bars) and will allow for a more aggressive bike fit.
The exercise: Start in a push-up position supporting your body weight on your forearms instead of your hands. Keep your elbows beneath your shoulders. Your torso shouldn't touch the floor and your body should form a straight line. Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat three times. As it gets easier, increase the hold time and reps.
Muscles utilized: Transverse abdominus and the obliques.
How it will help: This exercise will help you to improve your balance and stability on the bike.
The exercise: Lie on one side. Push up so that your body weight is supported on your elbow. Raise your waist off the ground to form a straight line. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat three times. Switch and complete the exercise on the opposite side. As the exercise decreases in difficulty, increase the hold time and reps.