8 Core Exercises Every Cyclist Should Do
Add these eight exercises to your weekly strengthening routine to improve your strength, stability, and flexibility on the bike.
Front Plank1 of 11
How it will help: Strengthening the upper and lower back 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.
Bridge2 of 11
How it will help: Bridges will strengthen the hip flexors, glutes and lower back. This muscles often become inflexible and stiff due to the repetitive motion of pedaling.
The Exercise: Lie on your back and bend your knees, similar to the starting position for a sit-up. Keep your feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips up by pushing the heels of your feet into the ground, contracting the hamstring and glutes. Make sure your body makes a straight line with your feet and shoulders in contact with the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 5 to 10 times. Increase the hold time and reps as your strength improves.
Opposite Arm/Leg Reach3 of 11
How it will help: This stability exercise trains your entire core, including your abdominals, lower-back, and hip muscles. Since it's an extension exercise, it will help to counteract the hunched position common in cycling.
The Exercise: Start on your hands and knees. Keep the back of your neck long and don't look up or let your chin drop toward the ground. Gently pull your belly button up, being careful not to round your upper back. Keep your hips and shoulders parallel to the ground and lift your right foot and left hand at the same time.
Extend your left fingertips forward and squeeze your left gluteus. Hold this extension for 5 seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. Continue alternating sides until you have completed 10 repetitions on each side.
Tip: Balance on a bosu or stability ball to make this exercise more difficult.
Lateral Squat4 of 11
How it will help: Lateral squats will build strength in the abductors and gluteus medius, which are important for balance and stabilization on the bike.
The Exercise: Stand with your feet approximately double shoulder-width apart.
Lateral Squat Continued5 of 11
Shift your weight to one side and drop your hips down and back, keeping your knee over your toes and your weight over your bent leg. Pause for a 2-count, return to the starting position and repeat to the other side. Aim for two or three sets of 8 to 12 reps per side.
Boat Pose6 of 11
How it will help: As with the plank, boat pose builds the lower-back stability and core strength needed to remain bent over the handlebar for hours, or to blast up hills without compromising power or speed.
The Exercise: Sit, resting both hands lightly behind you, and lean back until your torso is at a 45-degree angle.
Keeping your legs together, lift them off the floor as you extend arms forward at shoulder height. Abs are tight, as thighs and torso form a 90-degree angle. If your hamstrings are tight, you'll need to bend your knees a little. Work up to holding for 60 seconds.
Tipping Bird7 of 11
How it will help: The tipping bird exercise is a full body movement that requires strength, flexibility and dynamic stability, which will help you to maintain a more aerodynamic position on the bike.
The Exercise: Stand with arms at shoulder height.
Bend at the hips while extending your right leg back, until your body forms a T shape. Return to start, then switch sides. That's one rep; do 10.
Suspended Lunge TRX8 of 11
How it will help: This exercise will develop single-leg strength and improve your balance. As a cyclist, you should try to incorporate single-leg exercises whenever possible, as pedaling involves unilateral force production.
The Exercise: In single-handle mode, stand on one foot, with your other foot suspended in the handles. Be careful getting into this position—use something for support if necessary. Keep an upright posture and bend the knee of your lead leg.
Repetition range: 8 to 12 each leg
The Low Row9 of 11
How it will help: The low row is an excellent exercise for upper back strength and stability. Increasing your upper body strength will keep you from fatiguing during long rides.
The Exercise: Balance on your heels and face the suspension unit.
The Low Row Continued10 of 11
Perform a row, keeping your shoulders down and back. Lower yourself back to the starting position. Keep your body straight throughout the movement.
Repetition range: 8 to 12