Help participants cycle from the core with these five moves.
While the legs may be the stars of the show in indoor cycling, the core is the vital foundation that affects all movement, including the pedal stroke. A solid core helps eliminate unnecessary upper-body movement so that riders can focus and deliver energy for a smooth and powerful pedal stroke. Most cyclists will agree that, whether you’re riding inside or out, the core is the power center for efficiency. These five functional moves strengthen the core muscles and improve overall performance. All you need is 5 minutes before or after your next indoor cycling class.
Super Bug to Spiderman
In a riding position, the spine is flexed, requiring cyclists to brace the core dynamically in order to support the natural movement of the pedal stroke. Muscles recruited include the transversus abdominis, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis and back extensors.
Focus: Braced flexion.
Action: Start in prone, crouched position lying on BOSU® Balance Trainer. Press up with hands and feet, and hold braced position. Work up to 1 minute. To progress, walk hands and feet out until you are in “Superman” position on fingertips and toes.
The pedal stoke requires strong obliques and hips. This exercise develops hip strength and stability while also working on spinal mobility.
Focus: Hip and spinal strength and mobility.
Action: Start in supine position, arms out to sides, palms down, legs up toward ceiling. Rotate left and right, allowing one side (hip) to liftft at a time. To progress, lift arms and legs, and move them in opposite directions. Do as many reps as you can for 1 minute.
Get Up and Go, With Medicine Ball
Even with both feet clipped into the pedals, each leg works independently through the front of the pedal stroke, also known as the “power phase.” This leg and core exercise increases pedaling efficiency.
Focus: Unilateral work with rotation.
Action: Sit on step (adjust risers as needed), and place hands in prayer position to one side. Stand up and drive with one foot firmly on floor and other in toetap position, while rotating at top. To progress, add medicine ball. Do as many reps as you can for 30 seconds per leg.
I’s, Y’s and T’s
Cycling is a biomechanically stressful sport since the knees and hips never fully flex or extend, and the spine is primarily in a flexed position the majority of the time. Thus, it’s critical that participants have strong muscular endurance in their back extensors.
Focus: Spinal Extension
Action: ie prone on mat. Lift arms and upper body to “I” position, holding for 20 seconds. Move directly to “Y” position, each arm out at an angle. Hold for 20 seconds, lifting upper body higher. Move to “T” position with arms, and lift upper body to greatest extension. Hold for 20 seconds. Work up to 1 minute total. To progress, add weighted balls.
Riders need low-back stability and core strength to maintain forward flexion while blasting up hills or riding into strong winds without compromising power or speed. This exercise works both the quadratus lumborum and back extensors to provide a strong and stable base from which to push.
Focus: Low back and abdominals.
Action: Sit with legs together,
extended on floor. Lift legs as you extend arms forward at shoulder height. Keeping abs tight, form 90-degree angle with thighs and torso. Start with bent knees, and work up to holding for 60 seconds. Cue participants to feel this in their abs and not their hip flexors. To progress, straighten legs.
Doris Thews is an international award-winning fitness educator and 2019 World IDEA Fitness Instructor of the year. Known for her motivational and athletic coaching style, Doris leads and presents for several fitness brands; she is a senior master trainer for Schwinn and a member of the development & master trainer team for BOSU®. Doris is the CEO of Team Thews Fitness, which consults with several leading global brands on business, fitness technology, program development and executive strategy. In addition to presenting and lecturing internationally, she is also a keynote speaker and a RYKA fit-pro ambassador.