2 Aug 2016


Working your lower back and stomach will lay the foundations for faster, stronger riding…

While riding your bike is clearly essential to improving your performance, there are further exercises that you can perform off-the-bike to strengthen your core, which will improve your aerodynamic position, (see Pedro’s Tips on fit) as well as sustain it for longer periods.

The great thing about the following exercises is that the only equipment you’ll need is a Swiss ball. They can be performed at home or in your work hotel room. They’ll take no more than 20 minutes and you should do them a couple of times a week. The first two exercises require a Swiss ball; the final four just need you and a dollop of commitment…

1. Oblique crunches
Lie over the Swiss Ball so that your right hip’s on the top of the ball and your lower limbs, torso and head are in a straight line. Place arms across your chest, leaning over the ball to the side as reach for the floor. Repeat on other side, doing 12-16 reps in all.

2. Prone jacknife on Swiss ball
Adopt the press-up position with your feet rested on the Swiss Ball, then simply draw your navel to your spine. Your hips and shoulder joints should roll forward slightly, too, though ensure you maintain excellent spine alignment right through to your head. Also remember that at no time should you feel any pressure on your lower back or let your head drop. Hold this position for 5-10 seconds and then return to start position. Do 8-12 times.

3. Bag Crunch
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place a rucksack onto your torso, adding weight (clothes, laptop…) to increase resistance. Pull your shoulder blades back so your elbows are out to the side. Clench your abdominals, and then raise your body up towards your knees. Shoulders should be lifted of the floor. Return to original position. Repeat 12-16 times.

4. Pillow plank  
Lie face down on the floor resting your forearms on a pillow on a chair or desk. Push off the floor, raising up onto your toes and resting on your elbows. Keep your back flat – there should be a straight line from head to heels. Tilt your pelvis and contract your abdominals to prevent your rear end sticking up in the air or sagging in the middle. Hold for 20-60 seconds, lower and repeat three to five times.

5. Wall squat
Stand with your feet two or three feet from a wall. Straighten your back, contract your abdominal muscles and look straight ahead, before simply squatting right down into the 90° position. Hold this position for around 10 seconds before rising back up and resting for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times in all.

6. Windscreen wipers
Lie on your back with your feet together and raised slightly. Keep your legs nice and straight and then simply take your legs to the right. Bring them back to the middle, hold that position, and then over to the left. The slower you can perform this exercise, the more you’ll work your core and glutes. Do until exhaustion.

It can feel like a tough workout to start with, but will pay off in core strength, control, aero positioning and performance.