Core, core and more core

We keep hearing and seeing it, but how important is it to have a strong core, and how can we improve it? The core muscle group generally refers to any muscle that attaches to the spinal column or pelvis. To clarify, I am talking about our abdominals, obliques, glutes, trapezoidal and latissimus dorsi (a large muscle on the back that stretches to the sides and behind the arm). It is very important in most sporting disciplines to have solid core strength, but I feel it is even more so in cycling disciplines. It enables us to have better balance and posture, which leads to more power for longer by keeping other organs and muscle groups less fatigued.

In cycling, it’s quite common to suffer from a sore back, as well as other areas of fatigue. Fatigue can generally be due to deteriorating stability on the saddle which leads to rocking and bobbing, loading other muscle groups such as hamstrings and quadriceps, and possibly leading into injury. It could be said that a strong core supports the spine, keeping a more superior posture and not allowing to strain other supporting muscle groups.

My take on all of this is that it enables me to keep my performance at a strong level for longer, as well as being able to positioning the bike where I need it to be on the trails. I might not be the fastest off the line but generally after an hour or more I am still extremely strong. I feel it also helps with post ride recovery, as muscle soreness the next few days after events is not too bad, enabling me to continue with training.

Core strength exercises I do are push ups, planks, V-sits, lunges, core ab roller and balance board movements. I also plan to introduce a medicine ball twist. In conclusion, I suggest introducing a structured core workout, as it could assist with performance improvements.

NOTE: This a suggestion based on what I have found helpful for me, but everyone’s circumstances are different and this may not be suitable advice for your individual needs. Remember to always consult your doctor or physio before introducing any new workout regime or exercises. 

Authored by Mark BrockwellMTB Masters Rider, Pushys Sponsored Athlete

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