Cross-training for the Bike: A look at 5 core exercises to help cross train for long rides
Are YOU ‘beasting it up’?
Whether you are a beginner or a die-hard cyclist, keeping your core strong is an important aspect at any level of cycling. Core exercises help cross train you for lengthy, vigorous rides to prevent inconvenient injuries from ruining all the fun. For the sake of saving your body from pain and fatigue, having a properly strengthened core can make riding longer a heck of a lot easier. We’ve put together a cycling training program chock full of awesome core exercises to keep you riding happy, no matter the distance. These simple moves help to build inner core muscles and are a great addition to any cycling endurance training.
The best way to start is back to the basics. The classic ‘plank’ is not at all overrated, but an awesome full body exercise that strengthens core and back muscles. The plank builds the strength and muscular endurance you need to ride powerfully in the drops or in an aero position long after others have surrendered to the top of the handlebar. Enough with the mannequin challenge already; bump some tunes and add that plank pose to your cycling training plan STAT.
Begin this exercise by lying on your stomach. Place your elbows under your shoulders with forearms and hands on the floor. Lift your hips off the floor, keeping your back straight and abs tight, rest on your toes. Aim for about 60 seconds or longer if you can.
#2. Power Bridge
Build a tenacious foundation in your muscles. In addition to stretching the hip flexors, the bridge strengthens the link between your lower back and glutes. Add this core, glute and inner thigh building powerhouse to your cycling endurance training.
Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your heels near your glutes. Arms should be at your sides, palms down. In one smooth motion, squeeze your glutes, raise your hips off the floor and push up from your heels to form a straight line from shoulders to knees; toes come off the floor slightly. Hold for two seconds. Keeping your toes raised, lower yourself three-quarters of the way to complete one rep. Do 20 repetitions or as many as your heart desires.
This medieval ballistic device has just become part of your cycling endurance training. No need for flaming projectiles; your body will mimic the same movements as this ancient war machine. Contrary to its name, the catapult encourages supreme body control and builds up solid core muscles.
Sitting with a slight bend in your knees, press your heels against the floor. Extend arms to the front at shoulder height, palms facing each other. With a straight spine and upward gaze, inhale deeply, then exhale and slowly lower your torso to the floor over five counts as you inhale. Arms are overhead. In one smooth movement, leading with the arms, exhale and explode back to the starting position. Do 20 reps.
#4. Boat Pose
Work it like you’re at a prestigious yacht party. The boat pose lends a helping hand to those core muscles. Just like the plank, the boat pose builds 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. A cycling training plan wouldn’t be the same without this nautical 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 or longer.
#5. Side Lying Leg Lift
Ok, so this isn't exactly a core strengthening exercise, but it is equally as important for optimum performance on long rides! Chanel your inner Jane Fonda and strengthen those glutes! The side lying leg lift targets your hip abductors and well, your bum - two very important muscles that form the foundation of your pedal stroke. Powerful hips help for tighter, more efficient pedal strokes and a little extra muscle in the trunk not only provides for a better in saddle experience, but provide additional power, reducing quad fatigue.
Lying on your side, legs extended and stacked, extend your bottom arm forward at a 90 degree angle to balance your body. Place your upper hand either on your hip or on the floor in front of you for added balance. Slowly raise your top leg as high as you can and hold for 3 seconds, then slowly lower your leg, stopping just before it rests on your bottom leg. That’s one rep. Do 20 - 50 reps. Once complete, switch to your other side and repeat.
Gear up for your next workout: