When you think of strength needed during cycling you probably first think about leg power. Which is true, cyclists need strong and powerful legs to propel the bike forward, but strong legs need something to push from and that is your core. Your core muscles work to stabilize your legs to allow you to drive more power through the pedals.
What is your core?
Before you can understand how to strengthen your core, it is important to understand exactly what the core is. There is something of a misconception that exists about what constitutes the core, with many people talking about “core strength” and thinking just of their abdominal muscles. With this misconception in mind, they think that things like crunches will help them to improve the strength of their core and then wonder why it isn’t working.
The core is bigger than just the abdominals. It begins at the pelvic floor and goes up through the abs, along the spine, to the neck and shoulders. This is a complex group of muscles requiring deep activation to become stronger.
Why is a strong core so important?
A strong core is essential in assisting with a strong pedal stroke. This is because it is the platform that you actually push from. When the core is not strong or stable, it can become tired, and you will use more energy. Think bobbing upper body as you pedal!
In other words, the body rocks in the saddle rather than using your energy on the pedals. Strong legs alone will not help; if you have a weak core, then you are not cycling optimally.
A strong core allows you to put more power on the pedals, improve your endurance and be more comfortable in the saddle. Essentially, you will be a more efficient cyclist overall. Biking is, unfortunately, not an efficient way of improving your core, so it is important to incorporate in strength and mobility work like Pilates, that can help improve your core into your overall training regime.
Adding just a few of the right Pilates exercises to your routine will really help to improve the strength of your core and, therefore, your cycling. If you’d like further advice on the best exercises to help you ride better, please don’t hesitate to get in touch or join my online Pilates program for cyclists.