Workout for the Best

In a bid to banish back pain from your cycling forever, we bring five more moves in our sequence of 10 exercises to help you to build a stronger core.

1. Plank

Adopt a press-up position but, rather than supporting your weight on your hands, rest on your forearms and elbows. Engage your abdominals and try to hold a position where there is a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Avoid sagging in the middle or ‘jack-knifing’ your bum upwards. Maintain strict form and hold the static position. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

2. Superman

Start on all fours and concentrate on keeping your abdominals engaged and a flat back. Once you’re stable and happy with your position lift your right hand up and forward and extend your left leg up and behind you. Pause in the ‘up’ position, return slowly to the starting position and repeat, using the opposite arm and leg.
Alternate for 20 reps.

3. Side Plank

Lying on your side, stack your feet on top of each other and support your weight on the forearm and elbow of one arm. As with the regular Plank you’re aiming for a straight line from shoulder to foot. Avoid rotating towards the ground by extending your other arm up towards the ceiling. Hold for 15-30 seconds on each side.

4. Child’s Pose

One borrowed from yoga, a very relaxing pose and a great stretch for the flexion of the lower back. Kneel down and sit back on your heels. Keeping your backside in contact with your heels, curl forwards bringing your forehead onto the floor. If you struggle to keep your bum down place a cushion between it and your heels. Relax into the pose, breathing deeply. Either stretch your arms out in front of you or simply allow to rest by your side.
Hold for 30-60 seconds. If you feel any back pain while performing these moves then you should stop and seek professional advice.

5. Low cobra pose

Another yoga pose, this time working on lower back extension. Start in the same way as a back extension but place your elbows and forearms on the floor to support your torso. Imagine yourself as the Sphynx. Once again, breathe deeply and relax into the stretch. Hold for 30-60 seconds.

Resistance isn’t futile

If you’ve got these core exercises nailed and feel like enlarging your repertoire a bit, then there are plenty of resistance routines you can do at home to increase your strength on the bike. By getting a Swiss ball and a set of dumbbells there are lots of workouts you can do at home, all of which will improve your metabolism, increase your bone density, muscle mass and overall fitness. Some cyclists avoid resistance training believing that extra muscle bulk will make them heavier and therefore slower on climbs but, unless you embark on an Arnie style body building regime, you’ll only improve your strength making you faster in the saddle.

If you’ve got the space then working out at home is a great option. You don’t have to venture out on cold evenings and there’s no membership fee slowly trickling out of your bank account. However, to push yourself on beyond the absolute basics you will need some equipment, which will set you back a few quid initially.

Resistance training equipment essentials:
Swiss ball: You can get a Swiss ball – also called an exercise ball, stability ball and gym ball – from most sports shops. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to get the right size for your height. They usually cost between £5 and £15.

Dumbbells: You could buy several fixed-weight dumbbells, but adjustable ones with separate weight discs/plates work out cheaper in the long run and take up less space. Sports shops stock them with prices starting at around £25 for a 20kg set.

Once you’ve got these basic bits of kit there are very few muscles you can’t give a work out from the comfort of your own garage.

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