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Straight to the Core:

How a few minutes of weekly strength work now will pay off next season

By Ainslie MacEachern

Peaks Coaching Group

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With the race season at an end, it’s time to evaluate your season and assess your strengths and weaknesses. For many cyclists, core strength and muscular balance are weaknesses. Doing some simple exercises during the winter can go a long way to shore up any inadequacies and equalize those imbalances.

Cycling is a linear activity. During the winter, take the opportunity to wake up your stabilizer muscles, which will help your performance on the bike. Beneficial exercises include a walking lunge with weight held overhead, plyometrics and lateral lunges. These moves also reflect the alternating motion of pedaling and focus on the quadriceps, gluteals and even calf muscles.

Abdominals can be worked on by practicing core activation and strengthening the transversus in addition to rectus abdominus and the internal and external oblique’s. One of the best ways to strengthen the core (and the “core” means more than just the abs) is to focus on exercises that recruit not only the “dumb” muscles like the rectus abdominus but the transversus as well. Moves like a fit ball “roll up” or hanging leg raises will engage these target muscle groups.

Hyper-mobility of the extensors and gluteals is another phenomenon seen in cyclists. Flexibility and hyper-mobility are two different things but are often mistaken for each other. The extensors and gluteals are in a lengthened position for an extended period  of time in the cyclist with the hands and arms holding the body upright and over time these muscles can lose strength. Since the gluteals are the primary hip-extensors, you must occasionally re-educate them on “how they make a living”. Being in the flexed position often times for a fair number  of hours on a recurring basis, the cyclist’s abdominals do very little work, and it’s not unusual for a cyclist to have accompanying back issues as a result. Moves to correct low back issues can be things like hyper extensions or “super-mans.”
Body weight moves such as pull-ups and dips will, in a general fashion, tune up upper body musculature without focusing on any single group. While upper body mass can be a liability for the cyclist, that extra musculature will help with posture or body proportion and it will also create extra “space”  to hide away more glycogen.

Jonathan Hivert

Our goal: a strong, powerful body that wins

These issues can be  easily addressed  at home or in the gym. A well thought out and periodized weight program that addresses the musculature of the legs and core will result in an athlete who is less prone to injury, has more usable power and a stronger and more stable  core.

Ainslie MacEachran is a USACycling Level 2 coach and an AAAI/ISMA certified personal trainer and sports nutrition consultant with 

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