Joe Friel wrote a piece on core strength this week and I thought I’d re-post my comments here:
As a cyclist I think its easy to tell if you have a core strength deficiency. You can simply feel it. You can tell that the prime movers are really working, but you simply don’t feel that solid connection between upper and lower body. When you’re really digging deep you sense it the most; you feel like you’re trying to bridge a total body connection with jello.
I’ve had lower back issues my entire life, and the cause was unknown until last year, when it was discovered that I have a leg length disparity. My corrective therapy just so happens to be a core regimen.
This year I have been very diligent about core – twice a week, 30 minutes at a time. The difference in my cycling is profound. It’s the easiest, biggest bang for buck change I have ever made to my training.
As you mentioned, when most think of core they conjure images of tireless bouts of situps. Even one trip to a personal trainer can set you up with a core program that can be done at home, incorporating a great variety of exercises, using little more than an exercise ball. This will give you a unique workout to address your personal deficiencies.
Not into the personal trainer approach? Crack open this month’s issue of Bicycling magazine. They have a pair of very effective core workouts, well illustrated and ready for a half hour of your time.
Core isn’t something that takes a lot of time. In fact, if you’re out to make it an hour long affair, you’re overdoing it. A half hour is nothing. I’ve had highly effective core workouts at Gold’s that took no more than 20 minutes, and a few seasons ago I was doing 8 Minute Abs which I found extremely effective (until my neck couldn’t take it anymore).
Try the following once and a while – go through your core workout, then hop right on the trainer or get outside on the bike. You’ll be floored how warmed up and powerful you feel.