One common misconception that some cyclists have is that core exercises are unnecessary as you are already strengthening your core while cycling. However, doing off the bike core conditioning exercises can boost your cycling performance in a shorter period.
Our core is a complex series of muscles (not only where your six-pack abs are) that includes everything apart from arms and legs. You utilise your core muscles for nearly every movement made by the human body.
Core insights with Christina Liew
Originating from Melbourne, Australia, Christina is no stranger to the cycling scene in Singapore. A Dentist and Personal Trainer, she is considered one of the pioneers of women’s cycling in Singapore.
We had a chat with her after getting our abs fired during one of her core classes.
Q: Why is core training so important for cyclists?
For athletes, a tremendous amount of power and strength comes from the core and torso. Having a strong base enhances balance, posture, and can prevent injuries. Incorporating core strengthening exercises into your weekly routine will make you a stronger athlete and cyclist as it will enable you to increase your cycling efficiency by developing more power and strength from a solid foundation.
Christina strongly believes in off the bike core strengthening. Said Christina: “A strong core would help in all aspects of your life such as running, lifting, having a good posture, good flexibility, and preventing back pain. Core exercises improve your balance and stability by training the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony.”
1. Injury prevention
Have you experienced sore and stiff lower back, tired shoulders, or even a strained neck while cycling? If you do, the problem is most likely linked to your pelvic position and a weak core. Strengthening your core and getting a bike fit are the solutions to mitigate this problem.
2. You will be a stronger and better cyclist
Christina explained, “Cyclists need to strengthen the core away from the bike, so this takes away the strain from the back. We need to incorporate core stability, ﬂexibility and conditioning drills into our training to make our time in the saddle more comfortable. This way, we are less likely to develop muscle imbalances, and improve our performance and speed.”
3. More flexibility translates to greater aerodynamic benefit
“With a strong core, you will be more flexible and can hold yourself at a more aggressive position comfortably. Especially when you are in a time trial position, you need to engage your upper body strength- your shoulders and core muscles- even more.”
Core strength will enable us the ability to produce force. Core stability will allow us to control the power we generate, and serves to protect the spine and surrounding musculature from injury in static and dynamic movements.
Core conditioning is also crucial in almost every sport because these activities require motion between the pelvis and shoulders. Your core muscles control these motions and they provide stability, power and strength to the rest of your body. When your core is strong and working at its best, it is easier to move, to stretch and place demands on your body.
Isolated ab exercises vs compound movements
Both isolated and compound movements are beneficial for you.
Isolated ab exercises include your usual sit-ups, crunches, leg and hip raises and standing on one leg. Multiple joints will work together to keep your core and hips stable. Compound movements, a.k.a functional mobility exercises, simulates day-to-day actions such as picking up shopping bags, rowing exercises etc.
What are some core exercises that we can do at home?
“If you do not have a pilates ring or weights to play with at home, you can always improvise by using a sack of rice or a water bottle. Body weight exercises such as planks and mountain climbers are excellent ways to work your core too. You should do core exercises at least once a week.“
The good news is that you do not need any high-end fancy equipment or pay gym membership fees. The not so good news is that you have to put in the hard work to see results #nopainnogain.
About the class: Core Strength & Fitness Class by Christina Liew
Venue: Studio 360 Fitness (90 Eu Tong Sen Street, Block C #01-11, Singapore 059811)
Duration: 60 minutes
Cost: $20 per lesson
Click on the link here to stay updated on her fitness class schedule. All athletes (runners, cyclists, all sports) are welcomed to join. Numbers are limited to 12 per session, so what are you waiting for? Sign up for one of her classes now!