Exercises to Strengthen Core
If you read the last post on core muscles and cycling, then you ought to know how important this group of muscles is and if that’s the case, then you’re probably wondering how best to improve them. Crunches only strengthen one small area of your core; you need exercises which work the whole system effectively.
These 5 core exercises can be done anywhere, without any equipment and are effective:
V Twist: Start by lying on your back with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and your feet off the floor (thigh should be perpendicular to the floor) and fold your hands over your chest. Then slowly straighten your legs away from you to the right until they are at a 45 degree angle to the floor. At the same time, contract your torso up and extend your arms forward. Then lower yourself (slowly!) back to your starting position. Feel free to contract your torso and reach out to the left or right as well. Repeat 10 to 20 times depending on ability.
Side Balance Crunch: Start with your left knee and your left hand on the floor and your right arm straight up. Extend your right leg so that your body forms a straight line. Pull the right knee to your torso and your right elbow towards your knee. Then straighten your arm and leg and repeat it ten times, then switch sides.
Plank: Start on your elbows and knees with your hands clasped. Then straighten your legs and raise your body so that your weight is being held up on your forearms and the balls of your feet (Feet should be hip width apart). Face the floor, don’t arch your back or stick your butt into the air and hold this position for at least 15 seconds. This move can be easily modified to the side plank and the circle plank.
Oblique Reach: Sit with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Then straighten your right leg into the air and roll spine into a C-curve. Place your left hand behind your head and extend your right arm towards your right foot. Twist your body a bit to the left, roll back a bit more and hold for one count. Then come back up. Do five of these, then switch sides.
Russian Twist: Sit on the ground and hold your feet in the air. Then lean back until you are half way to a sit-up, then rotate from side to side, pausing slowly when you reach the end of a rotation. You can make this exercise harder by adding weights – hold a weight ball out and follow it with your head while rotating your torso. Either one, 2 sets of 10 to 20 reps will do.
Some information for this post was gathered at real simple.
How Long and How Often?
If you have a relatively weak core to powerful leg ratio then you may need to do some of these exercises. I generally do core exercises while watching TV, when I am bored or for a warm up right before my “real” workout. To maintain your core you probably only need to do core exercises once a week, but if you are looking to improve core strength then these exercises should be done two to three times a week.
You can do any and all combinations of the above exercises in less than 15 minutes. If you do them regularly and correctly, you’ll notice a real difference in your cycling performance. Keep that core strong and let us know which exercises you use to strengthen your core in the comment section below.