September 20, 2013

The Core Of The Matter

By Paul Butler, Personal Trainer and British Cycling Coach.

20th September 2013

I was recently asked to write an article for Men’s Fitness magazine and you lucky b*ggers don’t need to buy it as I’ve summed it all up below for you J

Cycling isn’t only about the legs you know.  These cycling-specific exercises are all designed to help you keep your pelvis stable whilst you ride; whether in the saddle, climbing, or sprinting.  Bradley Wiggins used this type of core training to great effect in his build up to winning the 2012 Tour de France.

If our pelvis rocks around then a lot of the power we are producing is lost as we pedal.  Conversely if we are strong enough to keep completely still then we can generate significantly more force to those pedals.  Add to this the fact that by having a strong core you’ll be much less likely to incur back problems and you are well on the way to a long life of very fast cycling!

These movements are known as functional exercises i.e. the core muscles are used to stabilise the body whilst the arms/legs are moving, exactly what we need to ride efficiently.  We aren’t preparing for a sit-up competition after all; we’re preparing for a bike ride or race!

Always warm up first – 10 mins on an indoor bike for example; start nice and easy and by the end of 10 mins you should be working at about 7 out of 10 in terms of effort.

It would enhance the benefits of all of these moves if you try to pull your belly button in towards your spine a little whilst you make the efforts.  Don’t pull the belly button in so much that you can’t breathe however; about 30% should do it.  This is known as activating the TVA (or transverse abdominus) but that’s a story for another time!

Shoulder hold to press up.

  • In a press up position, with your hands at handlebar width apart, slowly lift your right hand and place it on your left shoulder for a 2 count.  Repeat with left hand, placing it on your right shoulder.
  • Keep everything else still – If I filmed your torso it should look like a still image.
  • Now do a press up.  Take 2 seconds to lower yourself down until your elbows are at 90 degrees, hold for 1 second and then take 2 seconds to lift back up.  That’s one rep.
  • Progression – lift alternate leg too.  Easier – on knees.  
  • 2 x 15

Pelvic bridge.

  • Lie on your back, arms by your side, knees at right angles, feet on floor.
  • Push the heels into the floor to lift your bottom off the floor until your hips form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.  It’s ok if the rest of your foot leaves the floor to ensure you push through the heel.
  • Keep pelvis stable, don’t let it drop one side.  Keep legs parallel, don’t let knees drift inwards/outwards.
  • Progression – One leg
  • 1 x15 on two legs then 1 x 15 on one leg

One legged deadlift

  • Balance on right leg with that knee slightly bent at all times.
  • Bend Forward from the hip and reach with left hand towards right toe while raising lifted leg back behind.
  • Keep back straight. Keep hip and knee of lifted leg extended throughout movement.
  • Touch the toe and return to original position by raising torso while lowering lifted leg.
  • Progression – Hold a dumbell.  Easier – touch knee.
  • 1 x 15 each leg

Split squat

  • Stand with feet the same width apart as they are when you cycle
  • Take a (little longer than a) stride forward.
  • Ensure both feet are still facing forward
  • Lower your back near slowly towards the floor, gently touch the floor and come back up again.  Your rear heel with lift.
  • Ensure your front knee stays directly above the ankle when you squat, don’t let it travel over the shoelace area or toes.
  • Progression – Hold Dumbells
  • 2 x 15 each leg

Do this twice a week and before you know it you’ll be flying!

Don’t forget your stretching after……

Struggling to find the time, motivation, energy to do this?  Or do you simply have no idea what I’m taking about?!  Then you need a Personal Trainer! www.paulbutlerfitness.com.

Cycle Training
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