Regardless of how strong and fit you are, there is a pretty good chance your form and posture is less than optimal when on your bike.
As you are reading this, are your shoulders rolling forward, back rounded, core completely un-engaged? If so, sit up, lengthen your spine and roll your shoulders back. Good job.
Now, how are these sitting postures relevant to mountain biking? Well our position and bike posture is everything. On a bike we sit, or hunch over mostly, right? Our bike posture can keep our riding strong, controlled and intentional. The minute you slump and release the core engagement and let go of your upper body’s involvement, down down down goes the power. Having not just your super sweet quads firing rotation after rotation, keeping the upper body as involved is crucial. The shoulder roll posture you often see in cyclists is not helping their performance at all. In fact, a lack of core and upper body engagement and strength directly contributes to your inability to handle the bike with precision and power. It is the precision and power and strength you need in challenging terrain, to get over unexpected obstacles and maneuver around technical terrain.
Core Is Critical
A solid core will help eliminate unnecessary upper-body movement, so that all the energy you produce is delivered into a the solid pedal stroke. You can have the strongest quads in the in the world, but without the core strength, those quads you worked so hard to gain will not work as efficiently when on the bike.
Exercise Is Fun
Here are a few core and upper body cycling specific exercises to throw into your routine. And to give you the balanced power to charge the trail.
Swiss Ball Crunch: Rest mid back on a stability/swiss ball feet flat on ground with knees bent 90 degrees. Hands behind head and slowly lift shoulder blades off ball (without straining neck) Keep neck in line with your spine and repeat x 20. The stability involved allows the core to work that much more.
Swiss Ball Rotation: Now, try this exercise with a circular rotation of the torso. Same body position, but pull belly button thru spine and rotate torso clockwise x 15 then counter-clockwise x 15. The rotation simulates the many directions of movement the core requires when on the bike.
Plank: Plank pose, belly button pulled through rib cage. Hold 1 min.
Plank Pose with rotation: Plank above but move torso clockwise x 20 and counter clockwise x 20. Then hold Plank x 20 sec
Plank -up and down Plank pose with hands on floor then alternate elbow forearm down to ground, switch to other side repeat x 15 each side. Core and upper Body strength.
TRX Row or resistant band row: Stand tall tuck pelvis, roll shoulders back and down. Now pull trx or band handles to rib cage and back. Rowing motion with resistance. x 20.
Adding these and a handful more upper body and core exercises into your weekly routine will not only be fun, but will significantly add power, control and efficiency to your riding. If you have any questions or want more bike specific strength exercises reach out to us. asingletrackmind.com
Amy Renn of A Singletrack Mind has her masters degree in Kinesiology, is a certified personal and group fitness trainer. As well as TRX, YogaFit, & Outdoor Action Fitness Certified.