While most of us do spend the time to get a proper bike fit, I’m finding that too little attention is spent on how we sit on our bikes. Do you make use of strong core muscles to provide a solid base from which to make power and ride pain free?
During a session of Pilates a few months back, it came to my attention that if I rode my bike using the same muscles in my core as I do in Pilates, I would ride stronger, longer and pain-free. We all spend time working on our core strength, but if we don’t use that core strength when riding, it doesn’t really matter. Without utilizing our core muscles, our spines will collapse, pain will ensue, and is inevitably followed by poor and/or un-enjoyable cycling performance.
This got me thinking. When I ride my bike with a strong core, not only do my watts go up and I clear technical terrain more easily, it feels almost like I am doing a plank or getting ready to do a push-up. When I have good posture, I have a long and open spine. My low belly is working and my shoulders are down and back. I’m gently pulling back with my arms opening my belly (helping me breath) while also helping to stabilize. This plugs everything in together into my core. I am pain free and I am strong.
Take a minute to think about it. If your position and how you sit on the bike is a position that you would not do a push-up in, then your posture on the bike is wrong. If you bounce or have excessive upper body movement when you pedal, then your core is not working. If you are sinking into any parts of your back or shoulders when riding, then your core is not working. Get that low belly working! The stronger your low belly gets, the more power you can push into your pedals.
This off-season, I challenge you to spend some time to dial in your core strength and your posture on the bike.
- Pay attention to how you sit on the bike –especially when you ride hard. Do you have a long, open spin or are you sinking into any parts of your spine?
- Are you sitting on your sits bones?
- Is your low belly working?
- Your shoulders should be down, back and open. Pull gently with your arms to plug it all together. You should feel like you are doing a plank in perfect form.
Keep it up this off season and come spring, you’ll have a stronger core, more power and less pain.
ALP Cycles Coaching is a Boulder-based coaching company with three female coaches at the helm: Alison Powers, Jennifer Sharp and Patricia Schwager.
Each coach brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. Roading racing, track, endurance mountain biking, time trialling, making the leap to living and racing in Europe – they’ve got you covered. Find out more about Alison Powers and her Alp Cycles coaching company at here.