I used to be a runner. I ran a lot. Most days. One day, after years of training, I felt my power originating from my core, not my legs or arms. My body, my arms and legs moved in unison with each and every stride.
I used to be a golfer. A good one. At one point, when I hit balls most days, I played to a 5 handicap. One day, after playing for years, I realized my power came from my core not my legs, arms or forearms. My entire body moved in unison as I took the club away, rotating fully into the backswing and then down, delivering the club back precisely to the ball.
Today, I cycle. I cycle a lot. In recent years, I realize my power on the bike originates from my core. My legs, upper body and arms working in unison to deliver maximum power and speed to the pedals.
There is a lot of discussion on how to train for cycling – weight training mostly to develop power in the legs. Unfortunately, there is little discussion about the necessity to develop the core muscles; the muscles that stabilize the body so it can deliver maximum power and speed to the pedals; the muscles that enable the rider to maintain an optimum position for long periods of time; and, the muscles that minimize back pain, even on long rides.
If you want to cycle faster for longer distances, strengthen your core. One of the best methods I have discovered is Pilates, a serious of mat exercises that stretch and strengthen the core at the same time. The core connects the upper and lower body enabling all body parts to move as one and, enabling the athlete to create maximum power.
I have been remiss. I used to practice Pilates regularly. Unfortunately, I spend more time in the gym and much less time on the Pilates mat. That is about to change. This winter, when I am on the bike less, I plan to take a weekly mat class and, regularly complete a mat routine on my own.
Do you train your core for cycling?