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  1. #1
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    Strong Core - How Important?

    This off-season, I'm really trying to focus on strengthening more core, in addition to lots of riding and trying to shed a few pounds. My question - have you experienced a noticeable gain in performance after a conscious effort to strengthen your core?

    I'm a cat 2 rider who finishes in the back half of the pack. I need to lose about 20 lbs. and am working on that. I've really started to pay attention lately to how I feel in a race. As I go through the race, my back starts hurting, and I think I unconsciously slow down as a result. My theory is if I strengthen my core, I will have less fatigue through the race and ultimately be stronger throughout.

    Any favorite core exercises???

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    Strong Core - How Important?

    The core myth comes back again!! It's winter time eh...

    Your back pain may be related more to bike fit then poor core strength. Core str is over rated. How do you plan to train said core? How do you expect it to help you other then the very very theorical back pain relief?


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    Re: Strong Core - How Important?

    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    The core myth comes back again!! It's winter time eh...

    Your back pain may be related more to bike fit then poor core strength. Core str is over rated. How do you plan to train said core? How do you expect it to help you other then the very very theorical back pain relief?


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    How do you consider it overrated? You understand that between your abs and lower back muscle your body is held upright? It plays a pretty large role in biking. I hope some people with more experience will chime in and give some specifics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibbsinator View Post
    How do you consider it overrated? You understand that between your abs and lower back muscle your body is held upright? It plays a pretty large role in biking. I hope some people with more experience will chime in and give some specifics.
    You realize you don't need core *strength* to walk and hold yourself upright, right? Let alone riding your bike...

    How do you expect it to help you ride faster other then possibly diminish back pain (hypothetical)?

    What is core work for you?

    Please, do not attempt to negate other people experience and/or credibility, especially when you have no idea who you're speaking with.

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    Easy there fellas (or gals since I don't know who I'm speaking with). I know that in order to go faster on my bike, I need to pedal faster. And I know I will never be an elite racer. I'm just a weekend warrior who is trying to do the best I can. I enjoy racing and am always looking to improve myself - not just for racing, but for life in general. I ride as much as I can for a 44 year old with a career and 3 very active kids. One thing I can do (that I haven't done much of until recently) is workout early in the morning. This offseason, I am trying to focus on improving my overall fitness and am thinking I could stand to improve my core strength. IMO, my core could benefit from some strengthening.

    Let me hear from others if they have noticed any benefits on the bike from improving their core strength. If I get overwhelming responses that there is no correlation, I may re-think my strategy.

    Thanks

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    Please, do not attempt to negate other people experience and/or credibility, especially when you have no idea who you're speaking with.
    Who?

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  7. #7
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    Re: Strong Core - How Important?

    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    You realize you don't need core *strength* to walk and hold yourself upright, right? Let alone riding your bike...
    Since you don't need leg strength, cardio, or muscle endurance to walk it must also be marginal to biking. Both of these are ridiculous statements.

    You have two large lower back muscle groups and are responsible for two seperate functions. One is responsible for stability and tightens. The other is responsible for extension and movement.

    First of all, you spend a lot of time balancing in a bicycle, which uses the 1st muscle. Also, a lot of time is bent forward while riding, which uses your the other. Let's all agree on something for a moment. If you use a muscle, it will be sore after some period of time.

    I'm not talking about dead lift exercises to strengthen your core for riding. But an efficient/enduring core is never a bad thing. More riding is one way of strengthening it, stretches are important, and some easy exercises can help things along.

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    Re: Strong Core - How Important?

    Quote Originally Posted by lampeterbiker View Post
    Easy there fellas (or gals since I don't know who I'm speaking with). I know that in order to go faster on my bike, I need to pedal faster. And I know I will never be an elite racer. I'm just a weekend warrior who is trying to do the best I can. I enjoy racing and am always looking to improve myself - not just for racing, but for life in general. I ride as much as I can for a 44 year old with a career and 3 very active kids. One thing I can do (that I haven't done much of until recently) is workout early in the morning. This offseason, I am trying to focus on improving my overall fitness and am thinking I could stand to improve my core strength. IMO, my core could benefit from some strengthening.

    Let me hear from others if they have noticed any benefits on the bike from improving their core strength. If I get overwhelming responses that there is no correlation, I may re-think my strategy.

    Thanks
    Try planks and crunches/leg extensions. Or for simplicity you can do bicycle crunches. Best single workout for your core.

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    it depends how you think it will improve your riding and how you intend to work out your core.

    What we often hear when discussing core workout relates to silly hundreds of crunches, swiss ball balance and tons of old school exercises with poor form.

    Like I said, if your only target is resolving back pain, it might work, or not. Bike fit is important too. If you think it's going to improve your overall power, then it is an other topic.

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    You do need a minimum of strength and cardio to walk

    My point is core won't make you a better bike racer.

    If you use a muscle for some time, it won't be *sore* if it is adapted. Sure riding a bike very very much is not optimal for overall daily posture. I agree about riding your bike, since it is specific.

    I think where you get it very wrong is the crunches, etc.

    Tell me, why not deadlifts? Were talking strength or not?

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    Re: Strong Core - How Important?

    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    You do need a minimum of strength and cardio to walk

    My point is core won't make you a better bike racer.

    If you use a muscle for some time, it won't be *sore* if it is adapted. Sure riding a bike very very much is not optimal for overall daily posture. I agree about riding your bike, since it is specific.

    I think where you get it very wrong is the crunches, etc.

    Tell me, why not deadlifts? Were talking strength or not?
    There are multiple ways to condition your muscles. Strength and endurance are two. Your lower back muscles differ than other muscles in your body because they aren't responsible for pushing or pulling your chest/arms/legs/biceps etc. Their purpose is to extend and hold, and to tighten and hold.

    Crunches are effective for your extension. And since your lower back comes into play when you use your abs you will work them. Crunches are good for stability workouts because your back remains stiff and is directly used.

    Leg extensions are better than crunches, imo. And bicycle crunches work basically everything. Good overall workout.


    I'm advocating for muscle endurance and
    Flexibility over strength. May not make you faster, but you may fatigue slower, which means you are faster after an hour or two.

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    Not sure what you refer to when talking leg extensions but you there is a lot of hip muscle that come into play. Do you mean leg raises? If so, not much core work at all there, except your tightened rectus abdominis.

    I think your key words is tighten and hold, which does come into play when lifting heavy: deadlifts, squats, general barbell movements and olympic lifts. Multifidus as well as superficial muscles contract.

    Crunches are good for showing your 6 pack, not much else.

    If you want to talk balance or strength, they crunches aint the answer. Im sorry to hurt your beliefs.

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    Leg raises is correct.

    You can certainly work your back with those heavy workouts. You also run a higher chance of hurting yourself, and need a gym for some of them. Crunches don't focus on your back I agree. There are some other workouts that do.

    Stability ball back crunches
    Stability ball reverse leg extension
    These highlight both muscle functions.

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    Core strength, how important to overall performance?

    I believe it is one element and I work on it maybe 1-2 days a week for half hour: Mostly planks, stretches, and I especially like Scotty bobs (it's an exercise done with dumbells).

    As mentioned, a good bike fit can help mitigate pain, and IME, a higher pedal RPM puts less forces on the back per given Watt level. Losing weight helps as well. But we all have to realize that cycling is an aerobic sport and for every 1/2 hour you do corework (or weights), there should be 5+ hours on the bike (per week).

    I've struggled with back pain for 23 years and right now it's the best it's ever been. But then again, I quit doing endurance races (5+ hours) which is where back pain usually rears its ugly head. During short MTB races (~1 hour), crits, and CX, no problem.......sometimes. But I seem to have the least pain when I incorporate core work.
    Last edited by Poncharelli; 10-18-2013 at 01:19 PM.
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  15. #15
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    Does core strength help? Perhaps. It might help with back pain, it might help you maneuver the bike when descending. The jury is out whether off the bike core work makes any difference.

    But, core work isn't going to hurt you. That is as long as you don't replace bike workouts with core workouts or over due your core routine and injure yourself.

    Personally I don't do a core routine, this primarily due to laziness. I count on other off season activities like xc skiing and trail building to strengthen my core.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    There are a few core exercises that I do. I do them every morning first thing upon waking up year round, along with some stretching.

    Back extensions whilst lying prone:

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Bw9YuQTTc58" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Glute raises for your gluteus maximus and hamstrings (you can also do these with ankle weights)

    <iframe width="480" height="360" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/KEDVDEY_Ngs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

    Stomach crunches:

    <iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/Xyd_fa5zoEU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


    When I crashed my bike 18 August 2012, dislocating my left clavicle and fracturing my left femur, I had an external fixator frame put on to hold my broken leg together. From August 2012 through to June 2013 I was unable to do any back exercises at all as I couldn't roll over and lie on my front. During those months I had crazy back ache as all the muscle tone and strength in my back deteriorated. I'd wake up in the morning barely able to move at all my lower back was so bad.

    Anyway, after the frame was removed in June 2013 I was able to get back into my normal routine of daily exercises again. It took a few months for my lower back to really settle down but fast forward to October 2013 and I'm waking up without the nagging back pain. Riding a bike my back is ok too, even when pushing big gears and climbing.

  17. #17
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    Strong Core - How Important?

    Fwiw I prefer strenghtening the whole body with whole body max force exercises. There could be an application for crashes related injury prevention


    My blog: www.cyclingtrainingnuts.blogspot.ca

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    Re: Strong Core - How Important?

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/39...ack-exercises/

    I've been doing these, plus plank, 3-4 times a week for the past year and it seems to have helped. My back used to hurt after about 2 hours of straight riding, now I can go around 3.5 before it starts bothering me. Same fit and everything.

    But this could also be due to more hours on the bike than last season, not sure. But I figure it can't hurt!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    Please, do not attempt to negate other people experience and/or credibility, especially when you have no idea who you're speaking with.
    I get the impression that I am speaking with somebody young and oblivious to the reality of chronic back problems. Maybe you are an elite racer, maybe an average Joe, but you should know better.

    For years I had MAJOR back problems, largely due to a weak core. But once I got serious about addressing this issue, my problems went away. To this day I work on my core every other day.

    I am 51 years old. For 8 years I have been racing in the single speed category on a rigid bike and have done tons of 8 hour solos with podiums and also a series winner (on points). Try doing that at 51 on a rigid bike and get back to me with the same attitude.

    So while core strength training will not make you faster or better, it will allow you to do the one thing that is critical: stay away from injury and/or pain. And that means you can train, which is what we all must do to be able to reach our potential.
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    I think most people would benefit from some time in the gym, and YES that includes doing exercises such as deadlifts. Balance is a good thing, and weakness in a certain area(such as lower back) will hold you back from getting strong in other areas.

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    Re: Strong Core - How Important?

    Quote Originally Posted by serious View Post
    So while core strength training will not make you faster or better, it will allow you to do the one thing that is critical: stay away from injury and/or pain. And that means you can train, which is what we all must do to be able to reach our potential.
    Very well said sir!

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    Strong Core - How Important?

    There sure is a place for a lot of things RE cycling training but you always need to keep into perspective your goals and why you want to do x thing.

    Like it has been stated, it can be valuable on the bike time lost. Maybe it can prevent injury, maybe not.

    The questions are Why do it and How.


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  23. #23
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    Core Advantage by Tom Danielson. Cycling specific core exercises.

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    So I got neg rep because I don't conform to people's comments on core strength and it's benefits to cycling? No agreeing = trolling?

    I guess some people need to just stick to their cycling magazines myths then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    So I got neg rep because I don't conform to people's comments on core strength and it's benefits to cycling? No agreeing = trolling?

    I guess some people need to just stick to their cycling magazines myths then.
    I would think you got neg rep b/c your rather aggressive with your beliefs... I think neg rep is about as gay as it gets.. so I laugh when I get it.

    You could be half right or half wrong.. you challenge the idea of building core strength when you have no idea what level of strength the OP is at. Maybe he walks straight legged and that puts strain on his lower back. Maybe your right and his bike just doesn't fit well. Maybe he just has a back issue that he is unaware of.

    I have two discs still protruding in my spine and biking is a god send for me. But guess where I get tired at first? My lower back. Cuz those muscles are working all the time to stabilize a zone that is weak. I took a set of skid steer forks across my back. It took 4 years for the issue to finally degrade to the point where I knew I had a problem.

    The best bet for the OP is to find a well recommended strengthening coach/trainer/ect to start working on your body. I hope he/she wants to take the first session to stretch you out and feel exactly where you are tight at. Find out where you are weak and go from there.

    I could show you tons of info on kettleballs or bodyweight exercises or weight training but until you find your short comings you will not be able to fix them.

    Start working on your diet and eating right. See how your body reacts to that. start using BCAAs, protein powders, creatine and eat 6-8 small meals a day. Get your body turned into a blast furnace and let it eat the fat and then start focusing on weaknesses.

    I hope you find someone that rocks.. good trainers are tough to find.. most are just terrible.. they know one program and that's it..

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    You may be right. Sometimes translating my opinion to english kind of comes out sketchy.

    But, I guess my whole point was what I was suspecting would come up: want core strength? Do crunches, leg raises, bla bla. It goes along the same lines as your very last sentence.

    Im not quite familiar with the rep thing, I don't come here often much. I just realized I got neg'ed some months back, probably cause I did not say what the dude wanted to hear. It's hard to hear new perspective and shake people's beliefs when talking cycling training related topics. I guess this forum is just not what I thought it was.

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    Well please explain what you would recommend? I am a huge supporter of building core strength from my own personal injuries, i've broken and torn a lot of body parts. But core strength goes beyond just leg lifts and crunches. Ever heard of Crossfit? That is the pinnacle of core strength training. I think for the average person building your core is a starter. Then you can move to specialization.

    Regardless I'd love to hear your views on the matter.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    you always need to keep into perspective your goals and why you want to do x thing.

    Like it has been stated, it can be valuable on the bike time lost. Maybe it can prevent injury, maybe not.
    One perspective can be that WEAK core can surely increase overall fatigue and make pains more likely.
    ... so it is not a good idea to let your core get weak.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post

    Please, do not attempt to negate other people experience and/or credibility, especially when you have no idea who you're speaking with.
    So who are they speaking with? I looked at your blog and G+ page, but it says nothing about your education, experience, etc....
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  30. #30
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    Do some turkish get ups with a decent weight and then go out for a 1-2 hour rides for the next two days. Notice if you find yourself pushing against the bars to hold up your upper body weight, to the point your wrists start hurting, after a very short time into the ride (45 mins or so into it maybe).

    The turkish get ups will supposedly wear your core out enough, if it's not already strong enough to handle such a workout, that it will be unable to keep up your upper body weight. That weight then ends up either on your ass or your wrists. It'll come back stronger than ever thanks to the workout, but still, that should shock you enough to tell you how core strength is important for basic riding comfort. People will blame their saddle (saddle sore from upper body weight resting on it), their bar ergonomics (numb or painful wrists from upper body weight resting on it), or maybe their lower back will get sore and they'll blame their riding position for being too stretched, when it's more likely the lack of core strength.

    Next time you ride, try to tuck tighter and lower, getting your shoulders and head low when going over the rough stuff at a high speed (at least 15 mph through bumps that can knock a slack/loose hand grip off the bars). A good core allows you to keep that position longer. Try and get in that position for much of your ride and see how long you can keep it up and see how much more confidence and how much better your handling skills seem due to that position. Try pedaling in that position too, attempting pedaling through the bumps as well.

    I'm no expert here. Just sharing personal experience, believing it's not coincidence, and suggesting something to see if you can also perceive it taking similar steps and maybe answer your own question.
    We're all on the same ship, and it's sinking.

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    jkidd_39

    Honnestly, making recommendations over the internet is hard and can be a bit misleading when you don't know the person's case. That is why I did not make any specific recommendations.

    There are some exercises some people can't do, some they can. Some they should and should'nt. I admit I tend to be a proponent of heavy lifts and barbell moves, anything close to olympic lifts are good for building your core. When lifting heavy using a barbell, you do need to tighten everything up to maintain a strong position and good form. So squat, deadlift, over head press, etc. Not only do you work your core out but you also strengthen your whole body as well. That way you engage deep tissue msucle and superficial ones too. Though this could lead to the classic weight lifting debabte... note that I am not using weight lifting to improve cycling performance at all. Let's stop here so that very boring debate does not start up once again.

    SandSpur

    My statement was a reply to what I thought was a lack of respect from that poster. You can't just assume people on forums are all average joes or uneducated people. It was more a general warning then a way of saying ''I have X degree and Y experience so don't mess with me''. I don't have to expose who I am or what I've done, sorry. I have nothing to sell, nothing forces you to read what I write or believe any of it. You can read a few blog post if you like, they should give you a general idea about my fields of interest and passions.

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    +1 for Turquish get up. Whole body movement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    There sure is a place for a lot of things RE cycling training but you always need to keep into perspective your goals and why you want to do x thing.

    Like it has been stated, it can be valuable on the bike time lost. Maybe it can prevent injury, maybe not.

    The questions are Why do it and How.
    Why do it?
    With core strength I think you require a minimum level. The typical sedentary Western lifestyle doesn't do your back any favours in that regard. Sitting in a car commuting, working at a computer in an office chair all day, sitting on the couch in the evening watching TV, maybe that is ok for a few years but when you combine that with growing older (as you age you lose strength, your ligaments become less elastic reducing flexibility, bone cartilage can begin to break down also) that can see increasing issues develop. If you carry on regardless, as many people do, over time it's possible to drop below that minimum level of strength, increasing the likelihood of injury and pain.

    "Many of the changes in our musculoskeletal system result more from disuse than from simple aging. Less than 10 percent of Americans participate in regular exercise, and the most sedentary group is older than 50 years of age." AAOS.org

    Effects of Aging -OrthoInfo - AAOS

    When it comes to workplace injuries back injuries are one of the more common types, especially in jobs that require any kind of lifting and can result in long periods off work to recover. If you can do something preventative to avoid that fate it makes a lot of sense.



    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh2.pdf

    In terms of cycling back pain can be a limiting factor also:

    Overuse Injuries in Professional Road Cyclists
    "While some degree of lower back discomfort may be considered a normal part of such a physically demanding sport, more than 1 in 5 riders reported back pain causing reduced cycling performance. The injury load posed by the problem should therefore not be so easily dismissed. A reduced capacity to train and race could in itself be considered a serious injury outcome in a cohort such as this, for whom career and financial success is so dependent on optimum physical performance. Furthermore, a significantly greater percentage of cyclists reported long-term (>1 month) symptoms from lower back pain than knee pain and 1 rider ended his professional cycling career because of lower back pain. In fact, results from the low back pain questionnaire were highly comparable with results from other sports where lower back pain is considered to be a significant problem, such as cross-country skiing and rowing.

    Clearly, lower back pain represents a significant injury load on competitive cyclists, yet current recommended injury-surveillance methodology, developed primarily for the study of acute injuries, is unequipped to adequately measure it. The development of novel methods to quantify overuse injury problems, with focus on prospective measurement of functional impairment and exercise exposure, is needed.

    In analyzing the prevalence of symptoms throughout the year, lower back pain is relatively even during periods of racing or training, and markedly lower during the offseason. This indicates a strong relationship between cycling and lower back pain."
    Benjamin Clarsen,*y PT, MSc, Tron Krosshaug,y PhD, and Roald Bahr,y MD, PhD

    http://www.klokavskade.no/upload/Pub...%20cycling.pdf

    How to do it
    My view is that this sort of preventative work is best done regularly, little and often all the time year round. If you look at the exercises in my previous post they a) don't require any equipment so you can do them quickly anywhere (at home, in a hotel room, wherever) and they b) don't take up much time so you can do 10-15 minutes first thing in the morning without requiring any prior planning or impacting on your plans for the rest of the day.

    That 10-15 minutes of low intensity exercises also doesn't affect your time or performance on the bike later in the day at all. If anything it helps you wake and be more alert in the morning. Unlike the hassle involved in going to a gym core fit class, seeing a personal trainer, doing deadlifts with weights, kettle bell workout etc you aren't doing it as a distinct workout session. There's no cost involved, no equipment required and it isn't counted as a double day training. It's nowhere near as intense or as complicated as a full gym workout so you can continue to concentrate on riding a bike every day for as many hours as needed.

    By making it simple and a part of your daily routine it also increases the likelihood that you will stick with doing exercises for the long term (decades). Compared to a gym class (more intense but less frequent) which you may do a few times a week during the off season, but then stop during the riding season, it also keeps a stable level of core strength throughout the year.

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    Once again, what I question is the popular thought core strength will magically improve your bike performance. As soon as we talk core training, people get excited and suggest loads of very crappy exercises without knowing much of the posters health conditions and restrictions.

    Like I said, it can be good for injury prevention, as it also may not be. You need to keep in mind a lot of people get involved in the core thing so much they go nuts and miss on good specific training time doing core work instead of training to improve perfomance. Just as they do with weight training, pedaling circle, cross-training, etc, etc.

    Now, if you don't care about performance and want to be healthy, it's a complete different story. A routine as you suggest, which is quick and simple won't hurt bike training and it is not what I am against.

    People who throw out random advices, that's what im against.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by WR304 View Post

    Less than 10 percent of Americans participate in regular exercise, and the most sedentary group is older than 50 years of age." AAOS.org

    Effects of Aging -OrthoInfo - AAOS
    I know this is getting off topic with regard to the core strength discussion, but I wonder how they came up with the figure of less than 10%? I've seen higher numbers from other sources, but after reading the article at that link I see they are considering "regular exercise" as 30 minutes of moderate activity per day...

    An exercise program doesn't have to be strenuous to be effective. Walking, square dancing, swimming, and bicycling are all recommended activities for maintaining fitness as we age.

    The 30 minutes of moderate activity can be broken up into shorter periods. For example, you might spend 15 minutes working in the garden in the morning and 15 minutes walking in the afternoon. It all adds up.


    But if that's all it takes to constitute "regular exercise" - I am indeed quite shocked with the quote of "less than 10%" of Americans engaging in it.

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    I have pretty serious back problems, do to 25 years of skateboarding/ motorcycle jumping/bicycle jumping and working with very heavy stuff the result herniated disc/degraded disc and let me tell having no ability to gain core strength is very frustrating and hinder my bicycling abilities a lot..

    In short you never know until you miss it..

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    I find that the best way for me to avoid back pain in MTB races is to ride off road at least once a week.

    If I stick to the road for too long I find that my back and arms stop working about 2 hrs into endurance races

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    Once again, what I question is the popular thought core strength will magically improve your bike performance.
    just want to reply because you are being fairly ignorant here.

    say your core strength is at 10%, if you raise it to 90%, I guarantee you will automagically become a better rider. Core strength will result in endurance, transitional power, stability, form, breathing habits... could probably name several others, not to mention the whole part about your back and neck being supported with core strength, which in turn will considerably result in more endurance and power.

    I do agree, that crunches and some of the old school exercises are not the best way to gain core strength, although its better than nothing.

    Above that nonsense, I believe full body movements/workouts are the best. You can never do too many squats, and try variable with other weightlifting movements such as "The Bear". Random planks throughout the day are good, as well as wall sits, which suck. also, if you have a gym membership, or a way to get on a rowing machine, you will be working all of your core, in a similar fashion as cycling, plus some added upper body muscle groups (shoulders, arms, just about everything).

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    I agree that adding core strength to an already fit core will not make you much faster. But fixing a weakness should make you faster and more comfortable.
    I moved up to c1 from c2 last spring, - I was a decent c1 in the early '90s, got a little fat and hardly rode at all for a long time etc. In C1 last spring my lower back was really hurting starting at about the 1.5 hour mark on a rough course, and then in a longer harder race the downhills were pounding-punishing rough, - I ride a hardtail, and my back was killing me. I was thinking I needed a full suspension bike, but it occurred to me that I may just need a not-weak back, since I haven't done anything but ride for exercise for 2 years. I added some back exercises to my post workout routine (which I started doing not long before), I guess I have to wait until spring to see for sure, but I think having a not-weak back should help.

    Here's what works for me:
    After almost every ride I do: 10 pullups, 25 pushups, 20 situps and 20-30 bicycle crunches, 20 'reverse situps' (face down, exercise ball under my hips, feet under the edge of the couch, dip head down to ground then as high as I can get it), then 5 more pullups palms forward (those are harder). Then stretches.
    I like doing this routine after a ride because I'm already warmed up and sweaty, and it only adds about 10 minutes. After a few months I think it has made a difference in how 'muscly' I am, -and I've never been a very muscly guy. I could only do about 5 of those reverse-situps before it hurt when I started, now I can do 30. I have a basement that has an unfinished shop area, I attached a 1" pipe perpendicular to the joists and my head goes up between the joists when I do pullups, -it works quite well. It's just part of my ride routine now, and has become a good habit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by clbaumer View Post
    just want to reply because you are being fairly ignorant here.

    say your core strength is at 10%, if you raise it to 90%, I guarantee you will automagically become a better rider. Core strength will result in endurance, transitional power, stability, form, breathing habits... could probably name several others, not to mention the whole part about your back and neck being supported with core strength, which in turn will considerably result in more endurance and power.

    I do agree, that crunches and some of the old school exercises are not the best way to gain core strength, although its better than nothing.

    Above that nonsense, I believe full body movements/workouts are the best. You can never do too many squats, and try variable with other weightlifting movements such as "The Bear". Random planks throughout the day are good, as well as wall sits, which suck. also, if you have a gym membership, or a way to get on a rowing machine, you will be working all of your core, in a similar fashion as cycling, plus some added upper body muscle groups (shoulders, arms, just about everything).
    sorry but that's not being ignorant.

    Most people have more then enough core strength to ride a bike. Please, show me evidence of the relation between core strength and on the bike power. Core strength is far from being a limiter to your power output on the bike. You may want to find some other utilities for it, like avoid local pain like the OP posted, but not increase power

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    Quote Originally Posted by clbaumer View Post
    just want to reply because you are being fairly ignorant here.

    say your core strength is at 10%, if you raise it to 90%, I guarantee you will automagically become a better rider. Core strength will result in endurance, transitional power, stability, form, breathing habits... could probably name several others, not to mention the whole part about your back and neck being supported with core strength, which in turn will considerably result in more endurance and power.

    I do agree, that crunches and some of the old school exercises are not the best way to gain core strength, although its better than nothing.

    Above that nonsense, I believe full body movements/workouts are the best. You can never do too many squats, and try variable with other weightlifting movements such as "The Bear". Random planks throughout the day are good, as well as wall sits, which suck. also, if you have a gym membership, or a way to get on a rowing machine, you will be working all of your core, in a similar fashion as cycling, plus some added upper body muscle groups (shoulders, arms, just about everything).
    Agreed. Although the problem with doing "too many squats" is your legs will be beat and take away from time on the bike. Since the quads take most of the pounding on the bike, I focus on the glutes/hams when I go to the gym to balance things out, and it doesn't take away much on the bike if I'm riding with sore glutes/hams from the workout. Being stronger overall WILL help, especially MTB(more so than road).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    sorry but that's not being ignorant.

    Most people have more then enough core strength to ride a bike. Please, show me evidence of the relation between core strength and on the bike power. Core strength is far from being a limiter to your power output on the bike. You may want to find some other utilities for it, like avoid local pain like the OP posted, but not increase power
    The body function as a unit. Injure your lower back and go see how well you ride. Sometimes you don't realize how much a weakness is holding you back until its extremely obvious.

  43. #43
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    I think the question should be what is sufficient core strength?

    There is no doubt that if you have a really weak core it will impact your cycling performance. Your core is what braces your body. Some strength is required.

    But there isn't a nice simple relationship between core and power output. Continuing increasing your core strength isn't going to continually result in power gains. There is a limit, a sufficient level for core strength.

    I would guess that sufficient core strength is different for everyone.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    I don't think you can have too much core strength, but you can have too little. Like others have said though, focus less of 'core specific' exercises, and more on full body workouts. Squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, pullups ect will all work your core and make you stronger overall. I'm all for strength training and I absolutely believe it will make you an overall better rider, whether it's due to better power transfer, less fatigue, ect.

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    Strong Core - How Important?

    Quote Originally Posted by BruceBrown View Post
    I know this is getting off topic with regard to the core strength discussion, but I wonder how they came up with the figure of less than 10%?
    The article I originally posted doesn't have any references attached.

    If you look at this article about the American Time Use Survey and 1998- 2008 National Health Interview Survey it could be based on a source such as one of those:

    "Catrine Tudor-Locke et al. present the results of the American Time Use Survey. This is a telephone-based survey performed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It asks people all of the activities they do on a given day and how much time is involved in each task. The study looks at all activities outside of work and sleep and then determines the intensity of the most frequent activities performed by Americans.

    Eating and drinking were the most common sedentary activities, with watching television and movies not far behind. Among the top light-intensity activities were driving a car or truck and personal grooming, including washing and dressing. Food and drink preparation was the most commonly reported moderate-intensity activity. The most commonly reported vigorous activity was using cardiovascular equipment for exercise. What is most surprising about the American Time Use Survey is that overall only 5.07% of the respondents reported doing any vigorous-intensity activity on any given day."
    drdavidgeier.com

    http://www.drdavidgeier.com/are-amer...too-sedentary/

    According to the 2012 Americas Health rankings Colorado is the most active state with 16.5% reporting no exercise in the last 30 days whilst Mississippi is the least active with 36% reporting no exercise in the last 30 days (click on the Rank heading to sort the states into rank order) (Physical Inactivity: Percentage of population over age 18 who report doing no physical activity or exercise (such as running, calisthenics, golf, gardening or walking) other than their regular job in the last 30 days.)

    http://www.americashealthrankings.org/all/sedentary

    Also the age related Figure 1 in this full text where they compare activity levels against age (Figure 1)

    Amount of Time Spent in Sedentary Behaviors in the United States, 2003–2004
    By Charles E. Matthews, Kong Y. Chen, Patty S. Freedson, Maciej S. Buchowski, Bettina M. Beech, Russell R. Pate and Richard P. Troiano

    http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/167/7/875.long



    .



    .

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    As was just mentioned by LMN, "what is sufficient core strength"? Yes most people have enough core strength to function daily and to ride the amount they like to ride. The problem comes when they want to increase that riding, be it harder, longer or faster. The fact is that most of us based on sedentary jobs, previous injuries, busy schedules or poor habits either do not have the amount of core strength or activation that would be beneficial.

    Also important is realizing that for the core and back we have stabilizing and moveing muscles. Many of us do crunches or full body exercises and believe we have strong cores. The fact is that we've worked the movement muscles but have done little to improve the stability muscles. I have tested this on countless recreational athletes (generally poor results) and pro bikers and XC skiers (surprisingly not great results). Our body is great at compensating for weaknesses and imbalances giving us the perception that we are strong when we are not. And the problem does not present until something breaks down or we request too much from our ability.

    The argument that core strength can not improve speed is not true. But yes there just as important things to work on also. From quickly thinking about it there are four things I came up with some of which are interconnected.
    1. Stable pedalling platform - yes we have the core to balance on our bike but the more stable we are through our core the more effective we are at applying power through our legs and into the pedals.
    2. Stability on the bike - being able to more effectively control the bike as it bounces over the terrain will allow us to carry more speed (yes this involves other body parts eg. arms as well)
    3. Fatigue - a stronger core will make us more efficient and therefore waste less energy over longer events
    4. Injury - related to #3, as we fatigue it takes a smaller event to cross the injury threshold of tissue and result in an injury.

    The fact is that working your core and nothing else will not result in speed gains but in racing you are often talking in seconds being the difference. An athlete that performs a 1 or 2 percent better or stronger is often the one who comes out on top.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by wilki View Post
    As was just mentioned by LMN, "what is sufficient core strength"? Yes most people have enough core strength to function daily and to ride the amount they like to ride. The problem comes when they want to increase that riding, be it harder, longer or faster. The fact is that most of us based on sedentary jobs, previous injuries, busy schedules or poor habits either do not have the amount of core strength or activation that would be beneficial.

    Also important is realizing that for the core and back we have stabilizing and moveing muscles. Many of us do crunches or full body exercises and believe we have strong cores. The fact is that we've worked the movement muscles but have done little to improve the stability muscles. I have tested this on countless recreational athletes (generally poor results) and pro bikers and XC skiers (surprisingly not great results). Our body is great at compensating for weaknesses and imbalances giving us the perception that we are strong when we are not. And the problem does not present until something breaks down or we request too much from our ability.

    The argument that core strength can not improve speed is not true. But yes there just as important things to work on also. From quickly thinking about it there are four things I came up with some of which are interconnected.
    1. Stable pedalling platform - yes we have the core to balance on our bike but the more stable we are through our core the more effective we are at applying power through our legs and into the pedals.
    2. Stability on the bike - being able to more effectively control the bike as it bounces over the terrain will allow us to carry more speed (yes this involves other body parts eg. arms as well)
    3. Fatigue - a stronger core will make us more efficient and therefore waste less energy over longer events
    4. Injury - related to #3, as we fatigue it takes a smaller event to cross the injury threshold of tissue and result in an injury.

    The fact is that working your core and nothing else will not result in speed gains but in racing you are often talking in seconds being the difference. An athlete that performs a 1 or 2 percent better or stronger is often the one who comes out on top.
    This very much elaborates on what I was attempting to say, without having to explain it so well. This is an excellent way to write it out.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post

    Most people have more then enough core strength to ride a bike. Please, show me evidence of the relation between core strength and on the bike power. Core strength is far from being a limiter to your power output on the bike. You may want to find some other utilities for it, like avoid local pain like the OP posted, but not increase power
    Here is one study that examines core fatigue relative to leg mechanics.

    Relationship between cycling mechanics a... [J Strength Cond Res. 2007] - PubMed - NCBI

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    Seems the argument, or question, is more about the impact and bennies of full body training on race performance with core training being one part of the regimen.
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

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    Strong Core - How Important?

    Quote Originally Posted by wilki View Post
    Here is one study that examines core fatigue relative to leg mechanics.

    Relationship between cycling mechanics a... [J Strength Cond Res. 2007] - PubMed - NCBI
    Here's the full text of that study as a PDF. It adds more detail than just the abstract by itself, including a discussion of why the authors thought that pedalling force was found to be unchanged in both the fatigued core and unfatigued core states.

    Relationship Between Cycling Mechanics And Core Stability
    By John P. Abt, James M. Smoliga, Matthew J. Brick, John T. Jolly, Scott M. Lephart and Freddie H. Fu
    Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2007, 21(4),1300-1304


    http://www.alexandrelevangelista.com...os-do-core.pdf

    Discussion
    "The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between cycling mechanics and core stability. The results of this study only partially supported our hypotheses. Specifically, several of the kinematic variables were altered after the core fatigue workout, whereas the pedal force and work variables remained unchanged. Collectively, these results would suggest compensatory kinematic adaptations to maintain a given power output.
    ...
    Several limitations have been recognized by the authors. The fixed speed and gear ratio within and between tests might have negated the likelihood of finding significance with the pedalling force data. The inability to shift to an easier gear or slow down could have forced the subjects to pedal in a manner that resulted in the same performance, despite the altered mechanics of the lower extremity. Combined with the fixed treadmill speed, it is understandable that no changes were present for the pedal force data because similar pedalling efficiency was required to maintain the same position on the treadmill.

    The lack of changes in pedal force data further supports the importance of the core in lower extremity cycling mechanics in that the altered kinematic patterns were likely compensatory adaptations to maintain similar force patterns. However, the changes in biomechanical variables indicated that the use of untethered treadmill cycling forced the cyclists to adopt similar stabilizing mechanisms as experienced with outdoor, natural cycling.
    ...
    The results of this study suggest that core stability contributes to lower extremity cycling mechanics. Improvements in core strength could promote greater torso stability within the saddle and maintenance of lower extremity alignment to apply greater force transmission to the pedals."
    Pages 3 & 4

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    Yet, the conclusion : ''No significant differences were demonstrated for pedaling forces. Core fatigue resulted in altered cycling mechanics that might increase the risk of injury because the knee joint is potentially exposed to greater stress. Improved core stability and endurance could promote greater alignment of the lower extremity when riding for extended durations as the core is more resistant to fatigue.''

    The injury prevention point has been made. There are likely other ways to prevent injury as well. Many tools in the box.

    My point regarding core strength and power output remains the same, having a strong core won't help you push more watts on a bike. That's what im against. That, and all the stupid magazines myths that come up every winter on training forums with very dubious advices and bro-science.

    Now, if you include the specific aspect of mountain biking, especially racing events like XCO, there may be a point to whole body training/conditionning but that falls under some very fragile theories that are yet to be validated and highly controversed.

  52. #52
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    This is a more general look at core stability and athletic performance. It's quite an interesting overview of core stability across a variety of sports:

    A PILOT STUDY OF CORE STABILITY AND ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE: IS THERE A RELATIONSHIP?
    Chris Sharrock, DPT, CSCS Jarrod Cropper, DPT, Joel Mostad, DPT, Matt Johnson, DPT Terry Malone, PT, EdD, ATC, FAPTA
    The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy | Volume 6, Number 2 | June 2011


    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti...spt-06-063.pdf

    "Over the past several years, the body of literature concerning the relationship between core stability and athletic performance has significantly increased. However, this relationship has still not been defined, and relatively few studies have attempted to quantify a correlation between the two variables. A similar study to the current investigation was conducted by Nesser et al which evaluated the relationship between isometric endurance core exercises and performance measures in Division I college football players. The authors reported weak to moderate correlations between measures, with inconsistent results. It was noted by the researchers that the tests used to evaluate the core focused more on endurance rather than strength and that the latter may be more critical to athletic performance. Abt et al studied the relationship between core stability and cycling mechanics of the lower extremity. The results indicated that core fatigue resulted in altered cycling mechanics that may possibly place the lower extremity at risk for injury due to increased forces at the knee. However, no significant differences were observed in pedaling forces. Because fatigue affected lower extremity alignment and mechanics, the authors suggested that core stability and endurance may improve both these measures. To the knowledge of the current authors, these are the only studies that have specifically focused on quantifying the relationship between core stability and athletic performance, leaving a variety of questions unaddressed.

    A greater number of researchers have evaluated the effects of core training on sports performance. Tse et al analyzed the effectiveness of an 8 week core
    endurance exercise protocol on college aged male rowers. At the conclusion of the study, the authors reported that although their program did improve
    core endurance, but did not improve functional performance in tests such as the vertical jump, broad jump, shuttle run, and 40 m sprint. This led the researchers to state that core strength and power may be more influential in functional performance. Stanton et al studied the effects of short term therapy ball training on core stability and running economy. It was found that the therapy ball training resulted in improvement of what they defined as core stability, but had no effect on physical performance measures. Scibek et al noted similar results in a study that investigated the effects therapy ball training on swimming performance. It was noted that therapy ball training improved core stability measurements, but did not transfer to improved swim performance. Sato and Mokha studied the effects of a 6 week core stabilization training program on ground reaction forces, stability of the lower extremity, and overall running performance in recreational and competitive runners. Their results indicated a significant improvement in 5000 meter running times with no changes in ground reaction forces or leg stability. Multiple interventions related to the design of the study, precludes the conclusion that core stability training specifically improved running performance.

    It can be summarized from the studies discussed above that although core training has been shown to improve core stability; the results have not translated into performance enhancement."
    Page 4

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    There are several issues with the whole "core" thing.

    First is the actual definition of what is the "core". Just the muscles around the stomach region? Or any muscle that contributes to and effects spinal stability? (Hint: starts at the base of the neck and ends around the ankles).

    The second issue is that the cause and effect of postural issues are often poorly diagnosed. Just because the back is sore does not mean that you have a "weak" back.

    Then there are confusing and misleading terms such as "strength", when actually the issue is fatigue and strength has nothing to do with it per se.

    This is all compounded with huge amounts of anecdotes and misleading research all which for many results in a glut of confirmation bias towards "remedies" for a problem that didn't actually exist. "I did more core work and my back pain went away, so core work cures back pain."

    An example of what I am talking about:- Rider X get crippling pain in their lower right back (lets say in the erector spinae) after about 1.5hrs of hard riding.

    Now why is the back pain occurring? Is it occurring because that particular group of muscles are actually weaker than all the other muscles in the posterior chain? Or is it because there is a slight pelvic asymmetry combined with a slightly poor bike fit which results in an overextension of the leg which is compensated by a twisting of the hips, and this causes that particular group of muscles to fatigue faster? Maybe it's from a slight kyphotic curve of the spine and due to poor latissimus dorsi activation on the left side the right compensates. Or is the back pain occurring because those muscles are actually weaker? And, if so ,what gets muscles STRONGER? Usually lifting heavy things. What if the muscles are fatiguing? Then repetition, A LOT of repetition may help. Unless you know the "why" the blanket remedies applied (work the core bro!) are next to useless.

    In terms of power production how important is the "core"? Again, define what the core actually is. Even when really putting down the hammer the forces in cycling are low. If you can walk up a set of stairs then you have the requisite strength in the "core".

    Mountain biking is different from other modes of cycling in that it can be more dynamic in terms of how the body moves. This, again, rarely is not issue in most people of "core strength" rather more a case of muscle activation. Some recent work done in juvenile athletes is showing subtle changes over the last few decades that some of the more smaller stabilising muscle activation are growing increasingly poor - largely attributed to children sitting more (poorly) and just generally moving less. Similarly in athletes we would normally associate with have a strong "core" are not that strong (in terms of maximal force applied) rather the activation/deactivation of all the musculature when required is excellent, for example gymnasts.

    In summary:-
    If you have back pain work out what is ACTUALLY causing it (most likely not a weak back).
    If you want "core" strength, then pick up very heavy things (start very light and work your way up).
    If you lack core endurance then sit on the bike (and the office chair and on the lounge) properly and cycle more.
    Sit ups are probably one of the worst exercises you can do.
    Chairs, and sitting in them for a long time, are evil.
    Move more.

    Hope that helps.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devincicx View Post
    Yet, the conclusion : ''No significant differences were demonstrated for pedaling forces. Core fatigue resulted in altered cycling mechanics that might increase the risk of injury because the knee joint is potentially exposed to greater stress. Improved core stability and endurance could promote greater alignment of the lower extremity when riding for extended durations as the core is more resistant to fatigue.''

    The injury prevention point has been made. There are likely other ways to prevent injury as well. Many tools in the box.

    My point regarding core strength and power output remains the same, having a strong core won't help you push more watts on a bike. That's what im against. That, and all the stupid magazines myths that come up every winter on training forums with very dubious advices and bro-science.

    Now, if you include the specific aspect of mountain biking, especially racing events like XCO, there may be a point to whole body training/conditionning but that falls under some very fragile theories that are yet to be validated and highly controversed.
    I'm not so sure it won't help you generate more power:
    Improvements in core strength could promote greater torso stability within the saddle and maintenance of lower extremity alignment to apply greater force transmission to the pedals."
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    I'm not so sure it won't help you generate more power:
    Improvements in core strength could promote greater torso stability within the saddle and maintenance of lower extremity alignment to apply greater force transmission to the pedals."
    as it comes from the discussion, it is highly hypothetical. A general weight or conditioning programme is not something bad to add to your already existant training programme, it should just not overlap with your specific sport training load.

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by TapewormWW View Post
    Sit ups are probably one of the worst exercises you can do.
    My understanding is that the main issue with sit-ups is when you only do sit-ups by themselves - Where people decide they want a washboard stomach like you see in magazines, so they decide to do lots of sit-ups in isolation without working any other surrounding muscles, resulting in a muscle imbalance between the abdomen and the muscles of your back and pelvis which can then potentially cause injury:

    Is Your Ab Workout Hurting Your Back?
    "The “core” remains a somewhat nebulous concept; but most researchers consider it the corset of muscles and connective tissue that encircle and hold the spine in place. If your core is stable, your spine remains upright while your body swivels around it. But, McGill says, the muscles forming the core must be balanced to allow the spine to bear large loads. If you concentrate on strengthening only one set of muscles within the core, you can destabilize your spine by pulling it out of alignment. Think of the spine as a fishing rod supported by muscular guy wires. If all of the wires are tensed equally, the rod stays straight. “If you pull the wires closer to the spine,” McGill says, as you do when you pull in your stomach while trying to isolate the transversus abdominis, “what happens?” The rod buckles. So, too, he said, can your spine if you overly focus on the deep abdominal muscles. “In research at our lab,” he went on to say, “the amount of load that the spine can bear without injury was greatly reduced when subjects pulled in their belly buttons” during crunches and other exercises.

    Instead, he suggests, a core exercise program should emphasize all of the major muscles that girdle the spine, including but not concentrating on the abs. Side plank (lie on your side and raise your upper body) and the “bird dog” (in which, from all fours, you raise an alternate arm and leg) exercise the important muscles embedded along the back and sides of the core. As for the abdominals, no sit-ups, McGill said; they place devastating loads on the disks. An approved crunch begins with you lying down, one knee bent, and hands positioned beneath your lower back for support. “Do not hollow your stomach or press your back against the floor,” McGill says. Gently lift your head and shoulders, hold briefly and relax back down. These three exercises, done regularly, McGill said, can provide well-rounded, thorough core stability. And they avoid the pitfalls of the all-abs core routine. “I see too many people,” McGill told me with a sigh, “who have six-pack abs and a ruined back.” "
    Gretchen Reynolds

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/0...re-myths/?_r=0

    Can Situps Do Damage? | Healthy Living - azcentral.com

    Cookies must be enabled. | The Australian

    There's a short section in The Sports Gene by David Epstein about someone who decided to do situps obsessively:

    "Herschel Walker, best known as the 1982 Heissman Trophy- winning running back and twelve year NFL veteran. Now fifty-one, Walker is 2-0 as a professional mixed martial artist. Walker has trained in ballet, taekwondo (he's a fifth degree black belt), and, in 1992, was an Olympic bobsled pusher. Most indicative of Walker's drive to be active though, is the workout regimen he started at age twelve, before he was involved in organised sports, and which he has continued every day since. "I would start doing sit-ups and push-ups at seven pm.," he says, "and go until eleven. It was every night, on the floor. It was about five thousand sit-ups and push-ups." These days, Walker says he "only" does 1,500 push-ups and 3,500 sit-ups a day - in sets of 50 to 75 push-ups and 300 to 500 sit-ups or crunches - but he also has his martial arts training.

    Walker says the push-ups and sit-ups routine will remain, even after he stops competing. "It has nothing to do with my competitions," he says. "It becomes a drug, or a medicine. Even if I'm sick, I do it. It's like there's something saying, 'Herschel, you gotta get up. You gotta do it.' "
    The Sports Gene by David Epstein Pages 237-238

  57. #57
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    ^ Walker there is a fantastic example of success in spite of training and not because of it.

    The reasons why sit-ups kinda suck is that it largely works those muscles in isolation and to cause flexion in the spine. Not too many people lack adequate strength to create flexion. It can also lead to over-working of the psoas major muscle, most people already have a tight psoas and need not exacerbate this through sit-ups.

    The other role the abs play is for that of stability and resisting movement of the spine (rotation, flexion, extension). This usually does not occur in isolation but through a kinetic chain of movement patterns. Also it is done by "pushing" the abdominal muscles out, not sucking them in. In conjunction with the vasalva manoeuvre creates an incredibly stable trunk. Hence movements like the aforementioned Turkish getup, squats deadlifts, etc create a far more "functional" strength as the abdominal muscles are fulfilling their more primary role - stability, not flexion. The washboard sunken abs we see on tv and magazines are a fine example of shitty musculature. The "gut" should be defined but happily bulge forth in line with the chest... like a gorilla

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by TapewormWW View Post
    ^ Walker there is a fantastic example of success in spite of training and not because of it.

    The reasons why sit-ups kinda suck is that it largely works those muscles in isolation and to cause flexion in the spine. Not too many people lack adequate strength to create flexion. It can also lead to over-working of the psoas major muscle, most people already have a tight psoas and need not exacerbate this through sit-ups.

    The other role the abs play is for that of stability and resisting movement of the spine (rotation, flexion, extension). This usually does not occur in isolation but through a kinetic chain of movement patterns. Also it is done by "pushing" the abdominal muscles out, not sucking them in. In conjunction with the vasalva manoeuvre creates an incredibly stable trunk. Hence movements like the aforementioned Turkish getup, squats deadlifts, etc create a far more "functional" strength as the abdominal muscles are fulfilling their more primary role - stability, not flexion. The washboard sunken abs we see on tv and magazines are a fine example of shitty musculature. The "gut" should be defined but happily bulge forth in line with the chest... like a gorilla
    Various plank exercises are key.
    Stick around if you're housebroken...

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epic XC View Post
    I find that the best way for me to avoid back pain in MTB races is to ride off road at least once a week.

    If I stick to the road for too long I find that my back and arms stop working about 2 hrs into endurance races
    Absolutely. Too much road while neglecting mtb fitness is a recipe for problems. While the fitness is similar between road and mtb, they ARE NOT the same.

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    Pilates provides a great core workout.

    That said, I have lower back issues and they don't get better when I do Pilates. They get better when I pay attention to my posture on the bike and when I use my core on the bike. My bike fitter noticed that I put more weight on my left arm than on the right. He said that when you put weight on your arms, you disengage your stomach muscles and your back muscles work more to compensate. So I made a concerted effort to break the habit and keep both arms loose (it was a tough habit to break), and my back pain improved significantly.

    Also, when I get tired on the bike, my pelvis tucks under a bit and my lower back curves. In one race, my back hurt so much, I thought I would have to DNF. My husband was riding behind me and noticed the curvature and told me to straighten my back. He had to keep yelling at me because it was another hard-to-break habit. Result was that my back improved during the race with this posture modification.

    Core workouts are good for you, but make sure your bike fits and pay attention to your posture.

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    ^Totally agree. I started Pilates last spring. My riding form is far better. Biggest advantage to a good core workout like Pilates is the mobility and endurance improvements for technical trails. When your HR is pinned and you're 10 minutes into an Enduro stage, you need every fiber of your core to keep it all together for that next drop, table, or rock garden.

    I try to ride minimum 3X a week and do Pilates 2-3X a week for at least 30 mins. My riding this season has been the strongest in years (I'm 31 and have been riding MTB since I was 15). I focus on lots of planks/hovers, side planks, hip/pelvis extensions, bicycle crunches. My flexibility has improved somewhat, which was notoriously bad for me.

    Core stability/strength will not yield some big improvement in power, but it will yield more control. And we all know that power is nothing without control.

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