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 [4], 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.