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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.

  5. #5
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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.

  8. #8
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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.

  9. #9
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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.

  10. #10
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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?

  11. #11
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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.

  12. #12
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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.

  13. #13
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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.

  14. #14
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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.
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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:



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



    Stomach crunches:




    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

  18. #18
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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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  20. #20
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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.

  21. #21
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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!

  22. #22
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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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  24. #24
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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.

  25. #25
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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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