Core Exercises for Cyclists

Having a strong core is essential for overall physical health and wellness. A strong core not only helps to create a more balanced body, but is also necessary for improved posture and to help reduce back pain.

But how about for cyclists?  Should you treat your core any differently than if you are just someone trying to stay fit?  Having a strong core can help to improve performance in sports, including cycling.  Core exercises are an important part of any fitness routine, as they target the muscles of the abdominals, low back, and hips, which are the foundation of all movement. Not only that, but strong core muscles can help to protect the spine from injury and aid in balance and coordination.

Why Strengthen Your Core?

  1. Improved Stability: Strengthening the core muscles helps to stabilize the body and increases balance. This is especially important for cyclists who may find themselves riding in difficult terrain or in bad weather. A strong core can help the cyclist maintain better control of their bike and remain upright, even in challenging conditions.
  2. Enhanced Endurance: Core strength helps to improve the cyclist’s overall endurance. A strong core helps to support the body and can reduce fatigue, allowing the cyclist to go farther and faster. 
  3. Reduced Risk of Injury: Having a strong core can help to reduce the risk of injury due to fatigue or imbalanced movements. A strong core can help to support the body and make it less vulnerable to strain or strain-related injuries.

5 Great Core Exercises for Cyclists

Crunches

How to do them

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head, keeping your elbows out, or you can cross your arms across your chest. Engage your core and slowly raise your chest up towards your knees and then slowly lower back down. Repeat 1015 times.

Why we love them

Crunches are the epitome of an ab working, and it is not hard to see how being good at them translates to holding yourself in a strong cycling position for hours at a time.

Plank

How to do thembest core exercises cyclist

Start in a pushup position, with your hands directly under your shoulders. Lower your forearms to the floor and hold yourself up in a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold for 3060 seconds.

Why we love them

The ultimate exercise for building all of those stabilizer muscles around your core. By doing lots of plank you will be able to ride without having so much pressure on your arms and wrists.

Bicycle Crunchesbest core exercises biker

How to do them

Lie on your back with your hands behind your head. Lift your legs off the ground and bring your right elbow to your left knee while straightening your right leg. Then switch sides and bring your left elbow to your right knee while straightening your left leg. Repeat 1015 times.

Why we love them

As the name implies, this mimics the movement of cycling and is a more dynamic version of regular crunches.

Leg Raises

How to do them

best core exercises

leg raise

Lie on your back and place your hands on the ground for support. Lift your legs off the ground and raise them until they are at a 90degree angle from your body. Lower your legs back to the ground and repeat 1015 times.  You can do many variations of this, such as one leg at a time, or moving your legs outward and inward as part of the motion.

Why we love them

Leg raises help you work the lower abs and lower core, important because it will help with your endurance as you are in hour 2 or 3 of your ride.

Glute Bridges

How to do themglute bridge cyclist

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Lift your hips off the ground while squeezing your glutes and hamstrings. Hold for 5 seconds, then lower your hips back to the ground. Repeat 1015 times.

Why we love them

The core isn’t just about the front, it is about the back, too.  Working your back core helps balance the muscle and prevent lower back injuries while riding.  It also helps you when you hit that rough patch on your mountain bike or gravel bike and need to improvise and shift you weight while in the saddle.

Glute bridges also work a number of the key muscles used in cycling, so they are an exercise that gives you benefits far beyond the core. They provide good work for the glute and hamstrings as well.

All of these exercises target specific core areas and provide unique benefits, which is why you should do them all as part of a workout set.  Crunches are great for improving abdominal strength and stability. Plank is a great exercise for building core strength and stability. Bicycle crunches are great for targeting your obliques. Leg raises help build lower abdominal strength and stability. Glute bridges help to build strength in your lower back, hips, and glutes. All of these exercises will help improve core strength and stability, which is important for cyclists and bike riders.

Cycling Core FAQs

What happens to a cyclist that has weak core strength?

What happens to an athlete who has weak core strength, and why is it bad? When an athlete has weak core strength, they are more likely to experience muscle imbalances and/or injuries. Weak core muscles can lead to poor posture and difficulty stabilizing the spine and trunk during physical activity, resulting in a decrease in power, balance, and stability. Weak core strength can also lead to slower reaction time and difficulty transferring power from the lower body to the upper body.

Does cycling naturally strengthen the core?

Yes, cycling does naturally strengthen the core. When cycling, the stabilizing muscles in the abdomen and back are used to keep the body balanced and stable. This helps to strengthen the core muscles and improve balance. The core muscles are also used when pedaling, as they contract to provide power to the pedals.

What about offseason core training for cyclists?

Training your core in the offseason is perhaps even more important than during the heavy mileage season.  Why?  There is a good chance that you are training inside, like on an indoor trainer, in the offseason.  Training in this way doesn’t give your core and stabilizers nearly the same workout as you get when you need to balance and be nimble outside.  Keeping your core in shape will make the spring transition back to outdoor riding much more seamless.

How much time should someone spend on core strength training each week in order to see results? 

It depends on your goals, but generally speaking I recommend at least 2-3 days of core strength training each week, with a minimum of 30 minutes per session. If you are looking to see more dramatic results, you can increase the frequency of your workouts and increase the duration of each session to 45 minutes or more.

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