Core conditioning has become a staple of many workout programs in hopes that strength improvements will result in better overall function. What about cyclists? Scientists at the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh sought to determine the importance of core strength among a group of 15 competitive cyclists. They were tested on torque after participating in a “core fatigue workout” that sought to pre-exhaust area musculature prior to cycling. The exercises included seated upper-torso rotations with a medicine ball, static prone torso extension with a medicine ball, supine lower-torso rotations with a medicine ball, incline sit-ups with a weighted plate, lateral side-bends with a weighted plate, rotating lumbar extension with a weighted plate and standing torso rotations with weighted pulley resistance. Subjects then rode their bikes untethered on a treadmill at 25.8 kilometers per hour with a 1% increase in elevation until fatigue.
According to the study, which was printed in the November issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (2007; 21 , 1300–1304), “a core fatigue workout altered the mechanics of the lower extremity,” increasing the risk of injury and indicating that core strength development might be a vital training component for cyclists. Study authors suggested that cyclists “integrate a year-round core conditioning program into current training to promote lower extremity alignment while cycling.” Not only might this help performance, the authors suggested, but it could also be essential for injury prevention.