For any athlete, strengthening the core will train the body to work with greater efﬁciency and reduce chance of injury. For cyclists, who ride in a semi-prone position, the demands of the core are intensified. Thus, strengthening the core will improve performance, reduce common pains and greatly reduce the chances of injury.
The importance of the core when cycling
When we talk about “the core,” we’re not just talking about the abdominal muscles. We’re also talking about the adductors, quadriceps, back, glutes, hip rotators and hamstrings. Strengthening this group of muscles will result in the ability to generate more power in the arms and legs, the ability to stabilize the low back and improved efﬁciency in movement patterns while riding.
Ultimately, all this translates to a greater transmission of power to the pedal. If the low back is weak, riders often ﬂex and extend in the lumbar spine resulting in wasted energy. A strong, stable core will improve acceleration, climbing, descending and getting up and out of the saddle – all without wasting energy moving side to side.
A strong core will also help protect the spine and pelvis as well as aid in good posture. In turn, this will prevent injury. Injuries common to cycling include upper back pain, neck pain, knee pain, hip ﬂexor pain, low back pain and a multitude of spinal disc injuries. The posture required of a cyclist to perform in an effective, aerodynamic position on the bike calls for a rounded back, rounded forward shoulders, and a forward neck and head position. Basically, bad posture when standing and moving about in life. Correct posture off a bike is essential in avoiding spinal injuries and reducing pain. It will also aid in proper breathing which is important for cyclists to push toward the anaerobic zone, be able to perform to the best of their ability, and live headache free!
Research has shown to improve performance in a sport it is best to work the muscles functionally so it will directly translate to that sport. Simply stated that means mimicking the movements of your sport. Functional exercises will require the body to learn to stabilize and work in multiple plans of motion. Cyclists traditionally experience tight hamstrings, low backs, IT bands, chests and shoulders. Often glutes and low abs need to be strengthened.
Enter Juvo Board! The perfect tool to aid cyclists in achieving proper form, working in all planes of motion, challenging and improving balance and stability and aiding in proper stretching.
Juvo Board Cycling workout
This workout consists of four parts: the warm-up, Juvo Elevate, Juvo Balance and the cool down. For more complex exercises in Juvo Elevate and Balance, check out the GIF gallery below those sections! You’ll perform 10 to 15 reps of each exercise twice.
Juvo Elevate exercises
Squats: Begin with feet hip-width apart at the lower end of the board, facing downward. Squat down through the heels as you lower your hips and maintain a flat back with the chest elevated. Stand back up and repeat.
Reverse crunch (lower hip lifts): Lie down on your back with head towards the top of the board and hold onto the top of the board with both hands. Bend the knees and bring the knees in towards the chest then tap the toes on the board. Repeat as you breathe.
Supine knee drops (side to side with bent knees): Keep the reverse crunch position (on your back, holding onto the board). Drop the knees side to side, alternating and breathing as you repeat.
Clams: Lie down on your left side propped up on your left upper arm. With knees bent, keep the feet together and lift the top knee away from the bottom one. Repeat on the other side.
Side leg lifts: Lie down on your left side propped up on your left upper arm. Extend your top leg straight out from the hip, then lift and lower the leg. Repeat on the other side.
Side planks: Situate yourself onto your left side, supported up on the left elbow or the hand. Lift the hips by pressing into the feet or the knees. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Isometric plank on forearms: Begin on all fours with the elbows down and your hands gripping the handhold cut-outs. Position the body in a straight line supported on the toes. Hold for 30 seconds.
Mountain climbers: Begin on all fours with hands holding the handhold cut-outs. Extend into a plank pose and then power the knees in towards the chest, alternating at your own speed.
Juvo Balance exercises
Bird dog: Begin on all fours. Extend opposing arm and leg straight out. Then bring the opposing elbow to touch the opposing knee, tucking them underneath you. Repeat on the other side.
Superman: Lie prone and extend your arms out in front of you. Inhale and lift the arms and legs off the board, supported on your trunk then lower. Repeat.
Prone starfish: Lie prone with arms by your side palms facing in and legs long. Inhale and lift the arms and legs off the board, opening the arms and legs out wide like a starfish, turning the palms out. Return back to center, lower and repeat.
Hip bridges from bar: Lie down on your back with feet on the barre hip-width apart. Press the shoulders down into the board and lift the hips up. Keep the back of the skull pressing down and chin lifted so you don’t compress the back of the neck. Lift and lower your hips.
Bicycles with rotation: Lie on your back, legs long and feet touching the barre. Interlace your hands behind your head, cradling the head, and lift the chest. Twist opposite elbow to opposite knees, alternating, as you let your toes touch the barre.
Scissors: Lie on your back, feet touching the barre and legs long. Lift your chest and pull one leg towards you with hands behind the thigh, and then alternate as you touch the barre with opposing foot. Repeat and breathe.
Test the waters: Begin in plank pose with hands on the barre or board. Hold your plank position as you tap your toes on the ground on each side of the board.
Opposite arm/leg reaching plank: Begin on the forearms in a plank position. Extend the right arm forward as you extend the left leg back. Alternate between sides.
Side plank with hip drop: Situate yourself onto your left side, supported up on the left elbow or the hand. Lift the hips by pressing into the feet or the knees and then drop then back down again. Repeat on the other side.
Side Plank with Hip Drop
Low back stretch: Lie on your back and draw your knees into your chest. Hold for three to five breaths.
Figure 4: Lie on your back and cross the left ankle over the right knee, drawing the right knee towards your chest as you hold the right leg with both hands. Hold for three to five breaths and repeat on the other side.
Spine stretch forward over bar then into back extension: Sit tall with legs extended forward towards the barre about hip-width apart. Place left hand over right. Then slowly tuck chin to chest as you roll down vertebra by vertebra, reaching your hands out over the barre. Go only as far as you feel a stretch in the spine. Slowly stack your vertebrae back up as you return back up to a tall sitting position. Repeat with right hand over left.