Winter training - core stability exercises

Bill Gates

Veteran
Location
West Sussex
I have always included off the bike strength/flexibility exercises in my weekly training routine. In the off season I do this 2/3 x week and in the racing season 1 x week. It would seem that those riders that most people recognise as being at the top of the tree e.g. Fabian Cancellara and Cadel Evans, the current world TT and Road Race champions also train off the bike for core strength and flexibility.

There are coaches (who I have crossed swords with), who post on the internet forums (not this one), and who freely advertise through their signatures for new business clients, who actually ridicule the belief that core strength or any strength/flexibility exercises for that matter have any impact on the performance of endurance cycling.

When I commented on a picture of Tom Boonen with a mighty six pack I was told that the picture had been touched up (ha ha!).

Fabian Cancellara has been quoted as saying that his flexibility and core strength has enabled him to obtain a lower aero profile on his TT bike and maintain his power output making him go faster. These coaches would argue with him and tell him he is mistaken. Who do you believe?

P.S.Interesting article from Pro Cycling News on the subject
http://www.dailypeloton.com/displayarticle.asp?pk=15945
 

jimboalee

New Member
Location
Solihull
Cannot agree more.

My twice weekly gym exercises include :-

Dead lift.
Dumbell side bends.
Twisting hyperextensions.
Roman chair twisting crunches.

Abs and midriff training is ESSENTIAL to good posture when riding.


Case in point.
Grab your bottle of liquid energy when you're hammering along on the drops. SEE BILL'S AVATAR. Avoid letting the bike veer sideways - loosen your pressure on the bars and twist your upper body to squirt the juice down your throat.

Your back and obliques take the weight of your upper body while you are drinking.

Weak midriff = spectacular crash. :smile:
 

lukesdad

Guest
Core strength is important to avoid injury,this is because of the immense forces generated by the large powerfull muscles in the legs during performance cycling.
 

jonnyboy

New Member
Location
Durham
had a lower back injury earlier this year due to not being fitted to my bike properly,my physio therapist gave me loads of core strength and core flexibility exercises they worked a treat for me.(and getting fitted to the bike)!!!!
 

I am Spartacus

Über Member
Location
N Staffs
Bill Gates said:
When I commented on a picture of Tom Boonen with a mighty six pack I was told that the picture had been touched up (ha ha!).
Just a minor point.
Visible abdominal musculature is very indicative of lean body mass .. not inherent core strength.
Not that I want to get into a wandering discussion with you as you do seem to have a very positive attitude to what you know and works for yourself.

Perhaps that is the difference between fitness professionals and yourself.. a good coach has an ability to understand wider aspects of a new approach - be it rightly or wrongly.

Perhaps those coaches were veering towards the fact that out and out speed on a bike is not dependent on core stability leaving aside the obvious benefits of being strong in the trunk.
 
OP
Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Veteran
Location
West Sussex
I am Spartacus said:
Just a minor point.
Visible abdominal musculature is very indicative of lean body mass .. not inherent core strength.
Not that I want to get into a wandering discussion with you as you do seem to have a very positive attitude to what you know and works for yourself.

Perhaps that is the difference between fitness professionals and yourself.. a good coach has an ability to understand wider aspects of a new approach - be it rightly or wrongly.

Perhaps those coaches were veering towards the fact that out and out speed on a bike is not dependent on core stability leaving aside the obvious benefits of being strong in the trunk.
Well balanced point of view.


The thing with out and out speed is that I would agree that it is entirely possible that a scientific study would show that core stability has no bearing on power output. On the other hand if we are to look at the bigger picture then we bring in other aspects of a rider's ability to ride fast in a TT or Road Race.

In a TT you need to maintain the most comfortable aero position comaptible with the least power loss so that the right balance can be obtained as per Fabian Cancellara. In this respect it is his core strength which therefore assists him to get lower thereby making more aero , which makes him go faster for the same power.

In a Road Race there are climbs, breaks, sprints, which determine who gets over the line first. I know that the upper body (core strength) is brought into play when :- pulling on the handlebars on a climb; keeping the bike under control in a sprint with the extra force on the pedals; and keeping a smooth action as per a pursuit in getting away in a break (flat/downhill).

There are two schools of thought on this. Either it is or isn't beneficial. If you've got the time and are serious about your training would you really follow the advice of the "not beneficial" school of thought if you knew that the top riders were doing the opposite?
 

I am Spartacus

Über Member
Location
N Staffs
I vere towards it being beneficial.. but I suspect that my namesake hits the pilates big style in the off season... he is probably a little too busy and preoccupied at any other time..:smile:
 

jacster

New Member
Hi Bill,
I'm in 'it's beneficial' camp too, as you can probably tell by my posts elsewhere!
 

lukesdad

Guest
Beg to differ here in certain circumstances. Trunk muscle is extra weight. I being small 5 7" and concentrating on the road at climbing as well as xc racing and weighing ashade under 10 stone want to keep weight off. Upper body muscle is the last thing I want.

I have very good core condition and base training this is gained in a variety of ways crosstraining etc. but I dont do weights and I don t do protein supplements. Very carefull attention to diet is more important. The little guys get to the top of the mountain first, at least around here they do.
 

Seamab

Senior Member
Location
Dollar
There are many valid reasons posted here and others for doing core strength work but i think the essential point is that this type of exercise does not increase your aerobic capacity therefore has nothing to do with muscular endurance.

What it does do for many cyclists though is to put them in the position where they can best take advantage of their aerobic capacity by sorting out issues caused by poor bike fitting or other imbalances caused by injury or giving them the ability to hold a new position e.g. TT, for a long time.

I read somewhere recently that cyclists can be affected by osteoporosis more so than other sports because it is non load bearing - another good reason to do some core work.

I think we need to distinguish what the "other coaches" are saying. They are not saying that core work is bad per se, but pointing out that there is no evidence that backs up the theory that it improves cycling specific muscular endurance by itself and this is better served by riding the bike.

The pro's already have a hugely developed muscular endurance capacity and are using the gym to tackle other specific issues that they or their coaches feel need to be addressed e.g. sprinting. They don't need to ride the bike more unlike us time pressed amateurs.
 
OP
Bill Gates

Bill Gates

Veteran
Location
West Sussex
Seamab said:
There are many valid reasons posted here and others for doing core strength work but i think the essential point is that this type of exercise does not increase your aerobic capacity therefore has nothing to do with muscular endurance.

What it does do for many cyclists though is to put them in the position where they can best take advantage of their aerobic capacity by sorting out issues caused by poor bike fitting or other imbalances caused by injury or giving them the ability to hold a new position e.g. TT, for a long time.

I read somewhere recently that cyclists can be affected by osteoporosis more so than other sports because it is non load bearing - another good reason to do some core work.

I think we need to distinguish what the "other coaches" are saying. They are not saying that core work is bad per se, but pointing out that there is no evidence that backs up the theory that it improves cycling specific muscular endurance by itself and this is better served by riding the bike.

The pro's already have a hugely developed muscular endurance capacity and are using the gym to tackle other specific issues that they or their coaches feel need to be addressed e.g. sprinting. They don't need to ride the bike more unlike us time pressed amateurs.

At the end of the day it doesn't matter. You either believe that core stability training is beneficial or you don't. Whatever you believe you have come to that belief by rationalising your own experiences or others' or what you read in a book (scientific trials) or on the net etc. You may only ride your bike for training and be quite successful. Fine carry on - nobody is going to die.

Me? I'll carry on with what the top pros and their coaches advise and my own anecdotal experiences show.
 
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