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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-14-12, 04:14 PM   #1
Allen55
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Core training?

Hey guys...question about "core training" for cycling. I have an awful back that hurts me 90% of the day. I can't walk for long distances nor can I stand for a long time without it just killing me. Someone told me that I needed to train my core (stomach muscles, back muscles, etc) to get stronger. Im wondering if that will help me with the bike as well. Do we use a lot of the core muscles in biking? My back hardly ever hurts when im on the bike.

Anyone else have back problems and can lend some advice? What do you do for "core" training?
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Old 08-14-12, 04:32 PM   #2
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http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/core-strength/SM00047

think I got this from goldfinch originally...anyway I got it from someone on this board.
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Old 08-14-12, 04:57 PM   #3
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Awesome, vesteroid...thanks for that link!
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Old 08-14-12, 06:04 PM   #4
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http://www.bicycling.com/training-nu...g-fitness/core

I'll do a selection of exercises from this article 2-3 times a week.

Makes a big difference in arm and wrist pain after 3 hours+ on a bike. Also helped with just daily back pain from standing, etc.
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Old 08-15-12, 07:33 AM   #5
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I started working with a cycling coach in March of this year, first taking his winter trainer classes and that expanded into him coaching me full-time. About two months in, he scheduled us for an outdoor ride where he observed me for about a half hour of flat riding with sprints. The following day, he'd written me a core training workout and changes it up every 8 weeks. It's a pretty intense core workout, 45 minutes 2 days per week with 12 different exercises now, but it has made a world of difference in my power and comfort on the bike. In my opinion, it has been the key to my improvement on the bike this year, second only to my weight loss.

So, yes, I am now a believer in the core strength for cycling and will always incorporate it into my workouts. It's also important to note that my workouts include exercises for multiple bodyparts around the core, and I think the hip and glutes exercises have been a huge help.
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Old 08-15-12, 11:10 AM   #6
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What do you do for "core" training?
Full-power sprints away from every spotlight and stop sign along with standing climbs up steep gradients have done wonders for my core strength. And they're not nearly as boring as planks, crunches, and those other core-strengthening exercises...
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Old 08-15-12, 11:18 AM   #7
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Been suffereing back issues since fracturing L1 in 1994 and having a discectomy in 2004. And yes, both core strength and flexibility play large roles in our comfort and performance on the bike.

I don't do nearly as many core strength sesssions as I used to (bad me). There isn't much that I do that isn't covered in that mayo clinic slide show. The most notable addition is that I do a bit of stuff on a swiss ball, leg curls, dumbell curls, etc. However, I notice the largest improvement to my cycling comfort through stretching. I do particpate in quite a bit of stretching, 4-6 session per week. The segmental back stretch demonstrated in the mayo show works wonders for me. As does focusing on hamstring flexibility. I spend more time stretching my hamstrings than I do my quads and calves, which are of course the obvious cycling muscle groups.

Flexibility allows us to more comfortably achieve an efficient cycling position. Core strength then supports that position. Both are definately advantageous and worth your time to pursue for increased enjoyment of cycling.
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Old 08-15-12, 12:13 PM   #8
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When starting out, pretty much any work/exercise done improves fitness in general. There are many sources (pro bike trainers/coaches/athletes) that basically dismiss the "core training" as any meaningful improvement on bike performance. It obviously improves overall fitness however. And with better fitness people feel better on the bike, and ride longer. It's somewhat a placebo effect, but the cause-effect is not direct.

For improving personal bike statistics, you ride more. No other way around that. Intervals, hill repeats, whatever you want to add here, but always on the bike and using the bike as the main tool. For improving overall fitness, weight loss, and a more balanced workout of the entire body, including other disciplines (walking/jogging/running/swimming/weight lifting/etc) in your routine usually delivers results faster.
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Old 08-16-12, 03:12 AM   #9
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Are we talking about "core strength", abdominal and back muscles?

"Core Cycling Training", non specialty specific base work?

Or

"Core Training", basic all around fitness not specific to cycling?

It sounds like we've got responses to all three of those. Due to the OP's mention of back issues I presumed that he was interested in "Core Strength" training.
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Old 08-16-12, 06:03 AM   #10
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I'm 55 and have had mild to moderate back pain since I was 16. 3 years ago I stopped eating red meat and I've been pain free since. The only medical explanation I've heard is there are pain receptors in your back that are very sensitive to slight rises in uric acid. Red meat can cause higher uric acid levels.

I've been doing push ups for the last year to strengthen my core. I can now ride in the drops for 10 miles at a time.
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Old 08-16-12, 09:45 AM   #11
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My two cents: If you ride position is fully upright, core strength makes little difference unless you are MTBing. If you are rotated, it may make a significant difference. Yoga can get you there, it's doesn't mean doing classic sit-ups http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ih0hZOeTfj4

The only time I have experienced back pain is riding on tourer that I have set up with a pretty high front end and a B17, I'm upright most of the time. A lot of strain and impact on the lower back, imho.
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Old 08-16-12, 10:14 AM   #12
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I have bulging discs at L4-L5-S1 and I do lots of hamstring/low back stretching to help with my issues. I used to have flare ups that would require steriod injections, but I haven't had one in 2 years. I try to do my stretches atleast twice a day, but as a PE teacher I can do it along with the kids and not look silly doing it. I also try to stretch in the shower by doing toe touches with the warm/hot water on my back to aid in the stretching.
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Old 08-16-12, 01:14 PM   #13
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The way I look at it is I will worry about 'core training' once I get down to a 'reasonable' weight. Im aiming for around 240lb (Im 280lb) right now. I dont like to muddy the waters of my exercise on the bike by introducing other areas when I should be out riding or watching my diet.

I figure at 280lbs, that would be some 'core training' exercises that would make a difference
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Old 08-16-12, 01:46 PM   #14
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The way I look at it is I will worry about 'core training' once I get down to a 'reasonable' weight. Im aiming for around 240lb (Im 280lb) right now. I dont like to muddy the waters of my exercise on the bike by introducing other areas when I should be out riding or watching my diet.
I wouldn't wait.

1) Quite a bit of research shows that strength training while trying to lose weight is beneficial. Perhaps more so than cardio on it's own.
2) I've found that riding with inadequate core strength can lead to injury which might keep you off the bike.

Just a thought.
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Old 08-16-12, 01:49 PM   #15
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The way I look at it is I will worry about 'core training' once I get down to a 'reasonable' weight. Im aiming for around 240lb (Im 280lb) right now. I dont like to muddy the waters of my exercise on the bike by introducing other areas when I should be out riding or watching my diet.

I figure at 280lbs, that would be some 'core training' exercises that would make a difference
Don't underestimate a bit of variety in exercising. Let's face it, doing anything is awesome, but adding a good mix in on off days is a good thing too.

My typical work out for a week:

I ride 3 days usually (2 5 mile monster hill interval rides) and a longer 10-20 mile one on the weekends.

On none-riding days, I do a 100 push up program to work on upper body and arm strength

Yoga most days for 10-15 minutes

I've gone from mid-290's to mid 250's now in a few months and keeping everything balanced.

Just sharing!

BTW, losing weight is almost always diet. I've slacked off for a week and lost 5 pounds while keeping my eating at a steady 1500 calories per day. I've kicked it up a notch and even slowed down on weight loss on those weeks with a slight increase in eating due to more physical activity. The fact is that if I eat more, I lose less. I keep it safe and regular and that works well for me. Everyone is different though.
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Old 08-16-12, 01:51 PM   #16
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I wouldn't wait.

1) Quite a bit of research shows that strength training while trying to lose weight is beneficial. Perhaps more so than cardio on it's own.
2) I've found that riding with inadequate core strength can lead to injury which might keep you off the bike.

Just a thought.
Great advice. I've found that the more cardio I do, the lower my weight loss gets. It almost feels like I am kicking up the efficiency of my body. I don't do super long rides now, but instead focus mainly on hard hilly rides, kind of like interval training.
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Old 08-16-12, 04:03 PM   #17
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My two cents: If you ride position is fully upright, core strength makes little difference unless you are MTBing. If you are rotated, it may make a significant difference.
.....
The only time I have experienced back pain is riding on tourer that I have set up with a pretty high front end and a B17, I'm upright most of the time. A lot of strain and impact on the lower back, imho.
Do you not see the contradiction? The only time you've experienced back pain was on a touring rig with a "pretty high front end" and yet, you propose that core strength makes little difference when in an upright position.

I couldn't disagree more with the idea that "core strength" is only advantagous when in a bent over, closed hip, position. In my experience core strength and flexibility aids general back health and fitness across all of life. Standing, sitting, walking, cycling, gardening, all of it.

To those of you who are procrastinating on addressing your flexibility and core strength, I highly encourage you to begin. Unless your doctor has advised otherwise, you don't have to have already lost weight to begin working on these things. There was a very inspirational video recently reposted about the overweight, former para-trooper, who got off his crutches and walked again. Yoga and core exercises seem to have featured heavily in his transformation, even from an obese and physically disabled state.

Just go do it. For some it needs to be a time or period that you committ to. For, me a casual approach where I grab opportunities throughout the day works better. While strenuous yoga can require a good warm up before getting into it, there are a number of leg, hamstring, back and trunk stretches that can be performed at any time without concern for injury.

Yes, I get teased a bit at work about how much stretching I do. But, some of my co-workers are starting to see the benefit and even join in from time to time.


Really, the gains to be found from working on core strength and flexibility are not imaginary. And, while some may propose that it has limited potential to improve cycling "performance", I can attest to having observed a Retul fit of a national age grouper caliber rider that ultimately focused on their need to work on core strength in order to better anchor their pelvis and eliminate excess wasted motion. The logic being, that as one gets stronger legs realative to ones weight, the saddle contact point becomes less and less effective and you increasing rely on pedals and bars as your two primary load bearing points. Subsequently, the trunk needs to become increasingly strong in order to effectively transmit the power the legs develop to the bike instead of rocking the pelvis back and forth.

This point was further hammered home to me by Mrs. Fred, who while spectating an ITU triathlon commented on how it appeared that the riders transitioned seemlessly from seated to standing and did so frequently. I pointed out that the power differential between the two positions for them was minimal and that effectively, for them, it was little more than a slight movement of the pelvis up and forward. Even when seated they were putting out power that was on the brink of them needing to hold negative pressure on their hands to keep themselves in position.

Anyone telling you that core strength and flexibility don't have an important role across all of cycling from toodling along sitting bolt upright with the majority of your weight supported by your behind and subsequent load transmitted through your back, to leaning forward in a road position with the weight that must be supported by your hands being determined by back strength, to performance cycling where negative pressure against the hands neccessitates a strong core to tranfer power to the pedals, probably shouldn't be relied on.
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Old 08-16-12, 05:14 PM   #18
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Yoga
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Old 08-19-12, 03:51 PM   #19
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Do you not see the contradiction? The only time you've experienced back pain was on a touring rig with a "pretty high front end" and yet, you propose that core strength makes little difference when in an upright position.

I couldn't disagree more with the idea that "core strength" is only advantagous when in a bent over, closed hip, position. In my experience core strength and flexibility aids general back health and fitness across all of life. Standing, sitting, walking, cycling, gardening, all of it.

To those of you who are procrastinating on addressing your flexibility and core strength, I highly encourage you to begin. Unless your doctor has advised otherwise, you don't have to have already lost weight to begin working on these things. There was a very inspirational video recently reposted about the overweight, former para-trooper, who got off his crutches and walked again. Yoga and core exercises seem to have featured heavily in his transformation, even from an obese and physically disabled state.

Just go do it. For some it needs to be a time or period that you committ to. For, me a casual approach where I grab opportunities throughout the day works better. While strenuous yoga can require a good warm up before getting into it, there are a number of leg, hamstring, back and trunk stretches that can be performed at any time without concern for injury.

Yes, I get teased a bit at work about how much stretching I do. But, some of my co-workers are starting to see the benefit and even join in from time to time.


Really, the gains to be found from working on core strength and flexibility are not imaginary. And, while some may propose that it has limited potential to improve cycling "performance", I can attest to having observed a Retul fit of a national age grouper caliber rider that ultimately focused on their need to work on core strength in order to better anchor their pelvis and eliminate excess wasted motion. The logic being, that as one gets stronger legs realative to ones weight, the saddle contact point becomes less and less effective and you increasing rely on pedals and bars as your two primary load bearing points. Subsequently, the trunk needs to become increasingly strong in order to effectively transmit the power the legs develop to the bike instead of rocking the pelvis back and forth.

This point was further hammered home to me by Mrs. Fred, who while spectating an ITU triathlon commented on how it appeared that the riders transitioned seemlessly from seated to standing and did so frequently. I pointed out that the power differential between the two positions for them was minimal and that effectively, for them, it was little more than a slight movement of the pelvis up and forward. Even when seated they were putting out power that was on the brink of them needing to hold negative pressure on their hands to keep themselves in position.

Anyone telling you that core strength and flexibility don't have an important role across all of cycling from toodling along sitting bolt upright with the majority of your weight supported by your behind and subsequent load transmitted through your back, to leaning forward in a road position with the weight that must be supported by your hands being determined by back strength, to performance cycling where negative pressure against the hands neccessitates a strong core to tranfer power to the pedals, probably shouldn't be relied on.
Meah, not impressed by all the words. Sitting upright your spine/tailbone/lower back takes the road impact..and it's not an efficient transfer of muscle to power to boot. Whether you are a p90x & yoga junkie (like someone I know) or a couch potato you suffer much the same fate, ouch. Rotated pelvis forward, weight forward, other muscle systems come into play including the core stabilizing the upper body, and your - now flexible & suspended - body does a better job absorbing road shock. It's fairly obvious, yo.

Nothing wrong with cores exercises and riding upright, but it's not going to save your butt & back.

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Old 08-20-12, 12:00 AM   #20
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While doing core workouts and strength training are good and will help your riding and back pain I personally have seen more benefits from stretching/yoga. When I ride I usually ride 25-50 miles at a time. After my first 3-5 miles I stop and take a break. During this 15-20 minute break I stretch really good, and not just my legs. When I get back on the bike I fell much better than when I first started my ride.

As a side note, I have also noticed that paying close attention to your posture especially while riding will also help.
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Old 08-20-12, 03:30 AM   #21
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I go to a gym with MedX core strengthening gear. Last year I couldn't walk, swim or ride my bike without pain. Now I can swim 2000 yards and ride 25 km. Still have some ankle problems.

http://medxonline.com/products/exerc...-extension.php
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Old 08-20-12, 04:26 AM   #22
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Anyone who doubts the relevance of core strength to cycling either:

a. Already has great core stability, or
b. Has never done any core training.

Cycling is quite unusual in that it benefits from a strong core but doesn't do much to develop one. It's a really good idea to do strength training to complement your riding, quite apart from general health and fitness you'll find you can remain comfortable on the bike for longer and maintain good posture, form and therefore power. And the older we get, the more important it becomes in retaining muscle mass.

It doesn't have to be elaborate and it doesn't need weights. Bodyweight squats (single-legged half squats are nice and easy on the knees but tough enough at the right repetitions)' push-ups, planks, bridges. Burpees are great too, excellent for the core and pretty strenuous for the CV system.


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Old 08-20-12, 08:51 AM   #23
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+1 for yoga. I had back pain within the first 30 min. on my bike for 3 months (I strained my glute). I tried to push through the pain. I even lost 30 lbs and would stretch 10 min prior to riding. Didn't work. About a month ago I started yoga. I also started doing some core exercises. It makes a world of difference. My core was weak and my lower back suffered.
To answer your question I do crunches, back extensions, yoga, leg lifts, and knee raises.
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Old 08-20-12, 09:59 AM   #24
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Im thinking about trying yoga, but im about as flexible as a steel beam.
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Old 08-20-12, 11:07 AM   #25
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Im thinking about trying yoga, but im about as flexible as a steel beam.
You don't start "practicing" yoga because you're already good at it:-) It's the means to the excuse you're using to not start in the first place.

Sorry, but, I can't help but trott this one out, again:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbVpCc_r9Sw
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