If you are into taking on the pedals of your two-wheeled buddy, then you must not only consider strengthening your leg muscles. Yes, it is always given that you have to exercise your legs as they are the ones working as you pedal. However, as you get more active in cycling, you may tend to feel that something is not right. You begin to feel backaches and start to wiggle as you saddle because of this. You might wonder why this is happening.
Importance of Strengthening the Abdomen and the Lower Back
Well, let me tell you something. In cycling, you are not only working on your leg muscles but you are also allowing your back and abdominal muscles to stretch. With that, if you do not exercise both lower back and abdominal muscles before you take a cycling journey, you will really feel uncomfortable as you pedal. Thus, it is best for you to stretch those muscles aside from your legs. Here are the core exercises that you need to do before taking on a long cycling journey.
Body Drills for the Abs and Lower Back
- Boxer Ball Crunch
This type of exercise works on the transverse abdominus, obliques, and the lower back. First, you need to lie on your back on a big and inflatable ball. Your knees must have that 90-degree angle with your feet on the floor. Put your hands at the back of your head but do not try to put on some pulling force on your neck. When you have established stability, lift your upper back and head 15 times on a clockwise motion. After, do another 15 counter-clockwise movements. This particular exercise will allow you to get fit as you move your body forward, vertically, and laterally on your bike.
- Power Bridge
This activity targets the hip flexors, glutes, and the lower back all at the same time. Do this by first lying on your back. Then, slowly lift your glutes and hips off the floor by pushing your heels to form a straight line with your shoulders and knees. Hold on to this position for 2 seconds. This exercise is recommended for about 20 repetitions. This movement is essential as it stabilizes the muscular connection between your glutes and your lower back muscles.
- Hip Stretching
This drill particularly works on your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. Start by lying with your hips and stomach on an inflatable ball. Place your hands on the floor making sure that they extend in a straight line with your shoulders. Stretch your legs to the farthest that they can get and allow your toes to rest on the floor. When you have stabilized yourself on the ball, start lifting your legs up without bending your knees. Hold this position for about two seconds or more. Do this 20 times. This exercise is especially helpful when joining long cycling trips as this can assure you of backside strength with continuous practice.
This action targets the transverse abdominus muscles including the upper and lower back muscles. When you plank, start lying on your stomach with your elbows on the floor. Once this is done, lift your hips off the floor. Be sure that as you raise your hips, you do not bend your knees. Your abs and legs must be in a straight line in order for you to strengthen your abdominal muscles as you hold this position for about 60 seconds. Planking is important because it allows you to increase muscular endurance, especially in long cycling schedules.
- Transverse plank
As the name implies, this targets the transverse abdominus and oblique muscles. Begin with lying on your right side. Take your elbow under your shoulder. Then raise your left arm over your head. Lower your hips to the floor and do this motion 15 times. Shift on the left side using the same movements. This particular exercise is essential as it strengthens your stability on your bike.
- Scissors Kick
This drill aims at trimming the transverse abdominus, hip flexors, and the inner and outer thighs. Lie on your back and place your hands under your back. Push your elbows toward the floor and lift your shoulders up together with the lifting of your legs. The right leg over your left and the left leg over your right. This action helps in improving coordination during pedaling.
This exercise is unique as it strengthens all the core muscle groups needed for cycling. Catapult is like sit-ups, but it differs because of one thing- the knees are slightly bent in this type of exercise. Doing such drill will enable one to develop body control which is important in biking.
- Boat Pose
This drill works on the transverse abdominus as well as the lower back muscles. Begin with sitting on a flat surface. Then, gently lift your legs together with the extension of your hands. Your legs and hand must be in a parallel position. Hold this for about a minute or longer. The boat pose encourages lower back stability for you to get fit as you grip on the handlebar for hours.