Lately in cycling training we are talking a lot about core stability. It’s not a new concept, but it’s back in the limelight also because different professionals are working hard on this specific muscle training.
But what is it all about?
Nothing revolutionary. The core is simply the “deep” abdominal and pelvic musculature that “governs” the movements of the spine, pelvis and hip. Taking action to strengthen these muscles means gaining more control over the lumbar area, improving posture and making movements more fluid and coordinated, including of course the “pedal stroke” on the racing bicycle.
You can have “explosive” legs, but without the stability of the core their power will be less efficient, because the energy produced would be partly dispersed by superfluous movements of the upper part of the body.
Goodbye back pain
Reinforcing the “core” also helps prevent joint problems and especially the back. Several studies on the subject have in fact shown that low back pain in cycling derives largely from a poor stabilization of the core, especially during intense and prolonged efforts. It is no coincidence that back pain often occurs after a few hours of pedaling, when fatigue is felt: in these conditions the deep muscles struggle to “hold”, compromising the isometry and generating a functional overload on the lumbar area.
To learn to remain stable over time, even when the intensity of the performance increases, it is not necessary to work on power with machines or weights. The most suitable exercises are considered isometric, that is, they develop a “resistant” force, using only the opposition of our body weight in a static way.
• Plank. A very useful basic exercise to improve the stability of the transverse abdominals and the lower back. With your forearms resting on the floor and your legs straight and together, you need to lift your body by leaning on your toes. A variant that also involves the oblique abdominals consists of the side plank, with lateral support on only one forearm and only one foot.
• Bridge. Strengthens gluteus, flexor and lumbar muscles. In the supine position, with the arms outstretched near the hips and the hands facing down, the knees are bent, positioning the heels close to the buttocks. Then the pelvis is pushed upwards, contracting the buttocks and forming a straight line between the shoulders and the knees.
• Crunch. Train the control of the transverse and oblique abdominals with the help of a fitball. Lie down with your back against the ball and your body parallel to the floor. With the legs bent at 90 ° and the feet resting firmly on the ground, the shoulders should be slowly lifted by contracting the torso and pushing the lower part of the back onto the ball, always trying to maintain stability.
NB: All exercises must be performed keeping the muscles in tension for at least 30 seconds, in series of 15.