Develop a stronger core to ride farther and faster!
All of us here at PCBR love riding our bikes. Getting out on the roads and trails and enjoying the journey is why we ride. But we’re also a bit competitive; we want to be able to ride our bikes as far and fast as possible. Even though we’d rather be spending time simply pedaling along, a little time spent training off the bike is going to help us reach our goals of riding faster and farther, and get the most out of our time in the saddle.
Cyclists are known for their toned quads and cut calves. But without a strong core, those legs are going to get cooked and our backs and arms are going to hurt. A strong core will provide the stable platform we need to spend long hours in the saddle. I’m not saying we need six-pack abs, but we do need strong glutes, hamstrings, hips, and abdominals to keep our upper bodies supported, drive our legs, and create a sturdy base to allow us to go on longer rides at a faster pace in more comfort.
After tearing my ACL a couple years ago, I began a rehab program at Canyon Sports Therapy. My physical therapist, Danny Hansen DPT, CSCS started me on a program before I even had surgery to train my body in recruiting and strengthening my core. It all started with teaching my brain to use the core muscles, the strongest in the body, instead of the strong quads it had been relying on. The next step involved focused strength training of those newly recruited core muscles to gain a sturdy base for life’s more vigorous actions. Finally I began working on mimicking some of those dynamic movements using proper biomechanics.
Our minds controls your body’s movements. Our goal is to train our bodies to use underutilized muscles. Activation drills will help accomplish this goal. These exercises are very simple movements that focus on those neglected muscle groups. By performing these maneuvers for long duration holds, we focus our brain on recruiting these muscle groups and create new neurological pathways. Over time, our bodies will become accustomed to firing these muscles and we will be able to use them more efficiently and effectively. Simple core activation moves include clamshell holds, various plank positions, side-lying leg lift holds, and Captain Morgans.
Once we have trained your body to utilize our core, we should work on building strength in these muscle groups. Proper technique is crucial for these exercises; there is no point in performing them if we are not going to use the core muscles we have activated. Squat variations, dead lift variations, and bridge variations are all effective in strengthening your core.
As we progress in our training, we can begin to add plyometric exercises to mimic some of your activities. A solid foundation of an activated and strong core is crucial, as is proper technique, especially hip position. These exercises focus on increasing the strength and efficiency of fast-twitch fibers. This helps us use all our muscles fibers and translates into more speed and power. Box jumps, squat jumps, and agility ladder drills are all great examples of core related plyometrics.
Riding farther, faster, and more comfortably is a reasonable goal for everyone. Dedicating a few hours a week to improving our core fitness is an easy way to reach that goal. Over the past couple years I have amassed a collection of these different types of exercises. I simply rotate through them. I warm up a bit, complete a couple of activation drills, perform a couple plyometric movements, and finish with several strength exercises. It is a great way to start my day, and honestly, I feel stronger on the days I perform this routine, especially on post-work rides!
Follow @parkcitybikeracing’s Instagram account for weekly exercises.
As always, I'd love to thank our sponsors for all their generous support: