OUTDOOR ATHLETE:

HOW TO TRAIN CORE:

In this week’s blog I want to talk about the bodies core, what is it? Why is it important? and how should you train it? So, let me answer these three questions.

What is the “core”?

The core area is the name typically given to the bodies abs. But I like to class it as more than that. For me the core is the whole torso area, from the abdominal area, around the obliques and into the lower/mid back area. I class this area as the core because they must all work together to perform effectively. Let me give you an example:

When cycling we spend a lot of time in a static position. Our abdominal area needs to be flexible enough to lean over that far, but our back must also have a role to play in this by being flexible and strong enough to withstand that constant static position. If you only class training your core as abs, you are missing out on a key component of being comfortable, and ultimately fast on the bike.

This is an example of how the core area needs to work, and what it is. So, why should you train this in more detail?

Let’s cover this.

Why should you have a strong core?

Stability, flexibility, comfort, power. All of these are important factors in riding on or off road. They are also all factors that stem from the core area of the body. Having a strong and stable core is vital for a number of scenarios, let’s list a few below:

  • Changes in terrain (potholes, roots, rocks, poor road surfaces).

  • Standing up and powering the bike.

  • Sudden, unexpected movement (dodging traffic, animals, trail hazards, people).

  • Holding an aero position.

  • Staying comfortable on the climbs and keeping the body still.

These are just a few reasons training the core is vital for any cycling-based sport. So, we have covered what and why, let’s talk about how:

How should you train core?

Training core tends to be overlooked in gyms, and I would argue that the fitness industry is to blame for this. Building a culture of ripped abs, and beach physiques. Training core like this (in my opinion) is boring, and also pointless. So how should you actually train core? Let me talk you through two of my favourite core training styles:

1: Movement:

Rotational movement allows the body to move in a way that is like life and sport. Exercises such as medicine ball throws, Kettlebell swings, Medicine ball slams, hitting tyres with hammers. These are all ways you can build a very strong core area. And, are all more fun than doing 10000 crunches.

2: Stability training:

Building a stable core area starts with taking that away, creating an unstable platform the body has to adapt to. Exercises like standing on a bosu ball, standing on one leg, odd weight lunges/deadlifts, lateral movement all goes towards building a more stable core as the body is working in a way that it has to counteract the uneven force it is put through (either by weight or platform). This is one of my favourite ways to develop an athletic core.

Training core is vital in cycling for the reasons shown below, it can also be enjoyable if you throw in the exercises I have talked about in this blog. Give it a go, assess your stability and movement, and add in some basic core work, advance it and watch how much your cycling improves.

I hope you have found this article helpful.

Stay safe, stay outdoors.

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