6 Core Exercises For Cyclists

6 Core Exercises For Cyclists

There will come a time in your cycling journey (quite similar to running) when you realise that if you want to get stronger on the bike, you need to put in the work off the bike. One of the most important areas you can work on, if not the most important, is your core. If you already hit the gym between rides, then you can add these core exercises for cyclists to your routine or you can do a specific core workout once or twice a week to supplement the rest of your training.

Why Core Strength is Important in Cycling

I rocked up to my first ever cyclo-cross training session and was rather bemused that we spent a large proportion of the session on core exercises. I had wrongly assumed we would just spend the hour riding so it was a nice surprise to know that core work, and cross training (we did a bit of running) were being advocated.

But no matter what type of cycling you do, core strength is important to keep you strong and injury free. Your core is working when you’re on the bike to keep you balanced, it’s working to ensure you can relax your grip and arms, as well as for good coordination.

How To Engage Your Core When Cycling

From a standing position, or on the bike, you have to tuck your belly button (10-15%) towards your spine while sustaining a neutral posture. You should still be able to breathe normally with both your chest and abdomen expanding.


6 Core Exercises For Cyclists Pinterest Image

Core Strength Exercises For Cyclists

These exercises are designed to improve your core stability, increase your core strength and balance on the bike. They have various benefits for cycling; some replicate cycling specific movement whilst some increase thoracic spine (upper back) mobility. The position we hold on the bike increases the risk of developing curvature of the spine known as kyphosis whilst we often need to twist and turn on the bike to look over our shoulders… all of which has been taking into account.


Mountain Climbers

To make this exercise cycling specific, we’re gonna use a box / table / chair* (*whatever is available) to elevate your upper body and mimic your position on the bike.

Option 01 | Start with your hands placed on the shoulder width apart engaging your core as described above – squeezing your belly button towards your spine. 

Slowly bring one knee towards your chest then drive back to the start position. Each time you bring your knee to your chest, you can add some load on your abs by squeezing your knee even closer to your chest which creates a small pelvis tilt. 

Repeat on the other side.

Up the burn?! To increase the work your core needs to do you can choose between a regular high plank or a forearm plank. I think it’s up for debate which version is harder so give them both a go.

Option 02 | Regular High Plank. Start with your hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders. In this version, you can either drive your knees towards your chest slowly, or increase the speed to work on your cardio fitness at the same time.

Option 03 |Forearm Plank. Start with your elbows directly under your shoulders. Keep your hips in line with your shoulders.


Tabletop with rotation

This exercise is perfect for stability on the bike especially when turning or cornering.

Start laying on your back; legs bent 90 degrees at your knees while arms are extended in line with your shoulders. You can use a medicine ball, or whatever you have available, as a weight.

Slowly rotate your knees to the left, while your rotate your arms in the opposite direction. Return to the start position and repeat in the opposite direction.

Ensure you keep your lower back and shoulders connected to the mat, engage your core, and keep a neutral spine.


Superman Plank

Option 01 | Tabletop Start Position.

Start in a table top position with your knees and hands on the ground.

Slowly lift and extend one arm and the opposite leg until they are parallel to the ground.

Hold them in the raised position for two to three seconds, then return to the starting position.

Repeat on the other side.

Core Exercises For Cyclists -  Superman Plank

Option 02 | High Plank Start Position.

As above, but start in a high plank position with your knees and toes on the ground.

While maintaining the plank position with the rest of your body, slowly lift and extend one arm and the opposite leg until they are parallel to the ground.

Hold them in the raised position for up to five seconds, then return to the starting position.


Side Plank with Knee Drive

Core Exercises For Cyclists

Option 01 | On hand, knee off the ground (main images).

Start in a side plank position with your hand underneath your shoulder, your hips high and feet stacked.

While keeping your torso stable, raise your top leg and bring your top knee toward your chest. Pause and then return to start position.

Option 02 | On elbow, knee off the ground (main images).

Start in a side plank position with your elbow underneath your shoulder, your hips high and feet stacked.

While keeping your torso stable, raise your top leg and bring your top knee toward your chest. Pause and then return to start position.

Option 03 | Knee on the ground (bottom left image).

Lie on your side with your bottom leg bent so your knee is at 90 degrees. Place your elbow underneath your shoulder to prop you up, then lift your hips until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.

While keeping your torso stable, raise your top leg and bring your top knee toward your chest. Pause and then return to start position.


Advanced Core Exercises For Cyclists

Once you’ve been regularly implementing core workouts into your weekly training, you’ll be ready for the added challenge from these next two exercises. Both use a BOSU and you stand on either side when performing the exercises.

BOSU Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

This is a great exercise for cyclists; it teaches your stabiliser (core) muscles to fire, improving overall balance and helping to prevent injury. You can either perform this exercise with just your body weight or with lightweight dumbbells.

Flip the BOSU so the ball side is up.

Stand on the BOSU with your working leg in a central position, then balance on that leg alone.

With your balancing leg slightly bent and your back flat, bend forward at the waist to lower your arms towards your toes, as far as your flexibility allows. 

Squeeze your glutes to extend your hips, straighten up and return to the starting position.


Cable Twists on BOSU

This BOSU Cable Twists exercise is quite an advanced compound exercise which not only strengthens the upper body and core but also helps to improve balance and core stability. If you don’t have cables to attach (I used a set from my W8GYM) then you can use a light medicine ball, one single dumbbell or a weight plate.

Flip the BOSU so the ball side is up. 

Stand on top of the Bosu with your feet shoulder width apart and a soft bend in your knees. Hold the cable in both hands at the side of your hip.

Pull the cable up towards your opposite shoulder making sure to get good rotation through your trunk and keep your core engaged.

Return the cable back down towards your hip and repeat for time (or number of repetitions).


Want To Know How To Warm Up For Your Rides?


Create Your Own Core Strength Workout

Here are some ideas for using these 6 exercises to create a workout you can do at home or at the gym. Aim to complete a core workout 1-2 a week at minimum.

Beginners Core Workout

Core Exercises For Cyclists - Beginners Core Workout

Complete: 3 rounds

Rest: 15 seconds between exercises

Time required: 10 minutes

  • Mountain climbers
    • 30 seconds
  • Tabletop with rotation
    • 30 seconds
  • Superman Plank
    • 30 seconds
  • Side plank with knee drive
    • 30 seconds per side

Intermediate / Advanced Core Workout

Core Exercises For Cyclists - Intermediate / Advanced Core Workout

Complete: 3 rounds

Rest: no rest – 15 seconds between exercises

Time Required: 20 minutes

  • Mountain climbers
    • 45 – 60 seconds
  • Tabletop with rotation
    • 45 – 60 seconds
  • Superman Plank
    • 45 – 60 seconds
  • Side plank with knee drive
    • 45 – 60 seconds per side
  • BOSU Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
    • 45 – 60 seconds per side
  • Cable twists on BOSU
    • 45 – 60 seconds per side

Find More Core Workout Inspiration Here:


Rather than wondering if cycling builds core strength, I would suggest you focus on building core strength off the bike, to make you stronger on the bike. These 6 core exercises for cyclists are perfect for whatever stage of cycling you are at, good for pre-season training especially and good to give yourself a break from the repetitive motion of cycling.

What is your favourite core exercise?!

Elle

p.s Safety always comes first. If you are new to exercise ensure you seek advice from your GP. Make sure you drink plenty of fluids, wear appropriate clothing and carry out drills in a suitable space. Technique is paramount, and nothing should hurt. Should you experience pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath etc, STOP and consult your GP. 

Follow:

2 Comments

  1. September 30, 2019 / 17:08

    These are great core exercises! I can also see them being very beneficial for runners.

    • Elle
      Author
      October 5, 2019 / 18:10

      Thanks Christine! …and I would pretty much agreee re runners. I shared some warm up exercises for cyclists that would also be great for runners 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read previous post:
Expert Advice To Improve Your Cycling Training

How do you go from not being a cyclist, to spinning classes, to cycle commuting ...to racing?! Back in 2015,...

Close