Whether you’re speeding down a roadway or tearing up some trail, cycling is one heck of a workout.
Ask any avid rider and they will tell you how much stronger their legs have become since they started riding.
While it definitely feels great getting such a good lower body workout on the bike, it is also important to show some attention to the areas that don’t get a workout on the bike.
In addition to maintaining a balanced workout for your upper and lower body, you should also try to focus on the muscles groups that help you become a stronger rider.
Among these muscle groups is your core, an area that provides you with more benefits on the bike than you would expect.
If you made it to this article, there is a good chance you already know how important your core is for cycling.
And if you need help finding exercises to add to your routine, we created this list just for you.
Keep reading for a list of 23 great core exercises for cyclist.
- Exercise Ball Plank
- Windshield Wipers
- Single-Leg Crunch
- Power Bridge
- Hip Extension
- Forearm Plank
- Scissor Kick
- Boat Pose
- Opposite Arm Leg Reach
- Lateral Squat
- Suspended Lunge TRX
- The Bicycle Crunch
- Mountain Climbers
- Dead Bug
- Kneeling Superman
Things you may need:
How to use this list.
Use this list as a guide to build your own workout plan. Feel free to modify any of the moves or exercises and make sure you go at your own pace.
1. Exercise Ball Plank
The first exercise on this list includes the use of an Exercise Ball as well as one of the simplest exercises around – the Plank.
The Exercise Ball Plank is one of the best Core workouts you can do, especially if you’re a cyclist.
Not only does this exercise target your core, it also helps you build your shoulders, back and upper body.
This is an essential exercise as it builds the exact muscle groups you use to balance and handle your bike.
How to do it – Kneel over an Exercise Ball with your feet shoulder width apart and your elbows and forearms supporting your upper body. Clasp your hands and start to raise your hips until you form a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Make sure your hips don’t sag and brace your abs and glutes to get the most out of the workout.
2. Windshield Wipers
If you’re looking for a killer workout that requires no equipment at all, this next exercise is for you.
Windshield Wipers is an advanced exercise, that you can easily increase the intensity of as you progress in strength.
Just like of the of the other core exercises on this list, this exercise helps you target some of those hard to reach areas like your obliques and upper back.
Above all else, this is a killer workout for your abs.
How to do it – Lie down with your back flat on the ground and your legs extended straight out and together. Spread your arms out to form a “T” shape with your body and start to raise your legs until they are at a 90-degree angle with your body. Use your arms to brace yourself and keep your legs straight as you rotate from side to side, stopping just before your feet touch the ground.
3. Single-Leg Crunch
If you’re looking for a great beginner workout to get started with, this next one requires no equipment and can be easily upgraded as you increase your strength.
Being such a simple exercise, it only really works your abs, however, it really helps you target the upper and lower abs.
How to do it – Start lying on your back with your knees bent just like sit-up position. Keeping your knees bent and your hands behind your head, use your abs to lift your shoulders off the ground at the same time that you raise one leg perpendicular with the ground.
4. Power Bridge
To get a solid core workout, cyclists do not need to follow an extreme workout schedule.
On top of that, a lot of simple exercises can get you amazing results. One such core exercise is the Power Bridge.
If you’re looking for another bodyweight exercise aimed towards beginners, this next one is a great addition to the single leg crunch.
This exercise targets the muscle groups that provide pedaling power on the bike.
How to do it – Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms at your sides. Squeeze your glutes and push through your heels to raise your hips off the floor. Once your back is in a straight line with your knees and shoulders, hold the position for 2 seconds before lowering back down to the floor.
5. Hip Extension with Resistance Band
Although this next exercise uses a Resistance Band, it is relatively simple and beginner friendly.
Hip Extensions are a great way to target some of the minor muscles that make up your core, like your glutes and hamstrings.
By building the endurance in these muscle groups, you not only improve your posture on the bike, this also improves your ability to stand up on the pedals from a seated position.
Although there are many ways to complete Hip Extensions, we prefer the extra workout you get with the Resistance Band.
How to do it – Loop a Resistance Band around your ankles and stand up straight with your feet hip width apart. Keeping your back and supporting leg straight, slowly start to pull one leg straight back as far as you can. Slowly return to starting position and repeat with both sides.
6. Forearm Plank
If you’re looking for a toned-down version of the Exercise Ball Plank, the regular Forearm Plank is still a great option for cyclists who need to workout their core.
For such a simple exercise, the Forearm Plank still helps you target every muscle in the core and also helps you work your lower back.
This is such a great exercise, as it really helps you improve your balance, something that is vital for cyclist.
Even more impressive for such a simple exercise, it helps you target the illusive transversus abdominus, the overlooked muscle group that really helps with stability.
How to do it – Lie on the floor, this time on your stomach, with your forearms flat on the floor under your shoulders. Engage your core and raise your hips off the floor until your body forms a line between your feet and your shoulders. Keep your abs engaged and hold that position for 10-30 seconds.
7. Scissor Kick
Since your legs work in conjunction with your core, it’s a good idea to complete exercises that include the legs as well.
This next exercise, Scissor Kicks, is a great core exercise for cyclists, as it includes your legs too.
Scissor Kicks work your abs along with parts of your lower body, to help support proper spine alignment.
How to do it – Lie on your back with your legs extended and your hands either at your sides or under your glutes, palms down. Use your core to lift your legs 6-12 inches off the ground. Remember to tuck your pelvis and push through your lower back. Keeping your core tight, lower one leg to the floor and alternate with the other leg to create the scissoring motion.
8. Boat Pose
If you’re looking for a bodyweight exercise that really challenges the core muscles, the Boat Pose is a great workout for you.
This exercise targets that illusive transverse abdominus as well as your lower back.
Building these muscles improves your strength and balance, but also helps you support yourself on the bike for extended periods of time.
How to do it – Start in the seated position with your knees bent and your hands to your sides. Keep your spine straight as you slowly lean back, bringing your shins parallel with the floor. Balance on your sit bones with your spine straight as you start to extend your arms forward. You may need to bend your knees slightly as you do this exercise.
9. Opposite Arm Leg Reach
Whether you just started cycling or have been riding for a while, we are all aware of that dreaded back pain from hunching over bars all day.
As natural as a bike is, it can still take a toll on your body, especially your back.
By strengthening your core, you are not only able to build endurance in your back, you are also able to protect yourself from injury.
One of the best core exercises for cyclists is the Opposite Arm Leg Reach. This exercise will strengthen your back and improve posture, but most importantly, it is a great way to avoid back injury from cycling.
How to do it – Start out on all fours, feel free to use a yoga mat for comfort. Steady yourself and reach your right arm out straight and even with your shoulders. At the same time, extend your left leg straight back, forming a straight line from your hand to your foot. Hold for 2-5 seconds before returning to start position. Alternate sides.
10. Lateral Squat
Believe it or not, you can get a solid core workout from a variation of a leg exercise.
By doing a Lateral Squat, you actually work an important core muscle – the Gluteus Medius.
This muscle is responsible for side to side movements, something you will be doing a lot in the saddle.
On top of being a great core workout, it also helps hamstrings and inner thighs.
How to do it – Start with your feet wider than your hips and your knees and toes pointing forward. Shift your weight into your right heel and bend that knee while leaving your left leg straight. Once your thigh is parallel with the floor, slowly return to starting position before completing the move on the left leg.
11. TRX Suspended Lunge
Continuing the trend of core exercises that target lower body muscle groups as well, TRX Suspension lunges are a great dynamic bodyweight workout for cyclists.
Using the suspension from a TRX system, you are able to target more than just your quads and legs.
TRX Suspended Lunges allows you to work the glutes and abs, helping you build a stronger core.
How to do it – With your back to the anchor point, stand tall and place your left foot in the suspended loop band. Carefully step forward with your right foot and balance your self by extending your arms out. Keeping your back straight and core engaged, slowly bend at the right knee until your thigh is parallel with the ground. Pause for a moment before returning to the starting position.
12. The Bicycle Crunch
When you’re completing your workouts, it is best to try to target as many muscle groups as possible.
Surprisingly, you can do this with a move familiar to all cyclist – the Bicycle Crunch.
The Bicycle Crunch is a great bodyweight exercise that targets the rectus abdominis and obliques.
This exercise is a great way to build a strong core for your legs to drive from.
How to do it – Lie flat on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees bent. Contract your core and raise your knees to a 90-degree angle, pulling your feet off the floor. Simulate a bicycle pedal motion, bringing one knee up towards your armpit while straightening the other leg. Rotate your torso so you can touch your elbow to the opposite knee as it comes up. Aim for 12 to 20 repetitions and three sets.
13. Mountain Climbers
For a cardio workout that drills the abs and even hits the Upper Body, Mountain Climbers is the perfect exercise.
Mountain Climbers is on the best core exercises for cyclists who want to get a high intensity ab workout.
While this exercise also focuses a lot on the shoulders and quads, your abs are going to get the best workout.
This helps you build core strength and agility, making you more balanced and nimbler on the bike.
How to do it – Start in the plank position, with your abs engaged and hands shoulder width apart. Keeping your back straight, pull your right knee into your chest as far as you can. Return to starting position and begin to alternate knees, keeping your abs engaged and back straight.
14. Dead Bug
It is very important that the core exercises for cyclist target the lower back.
After hours leaning over bike handlebars, your lower back takes quite the beating.
To prevent injury and build lower back endurance, integrate the core exercise call the Dead Bug.
Similar to some of the other exercises on this list, this exercise targets multiple muscle groups.
How to do it – Lie on your back with your arms extended out, forming a perpendicular with your body. Bend your hips and knees 90-degrees, lifting your feet from the ground. slowly and simultaneously lower your right leg until your heel nearly touches floor and your left arm until your hand nearly touches floor overhead. Return to start position before alternating the other side.
15. Kneeling Superman
The final exercise on the list is a great core exercise for cyclists, as it targets many core muscles groups.
How to do it – Start on all fours with your back straight and your core engaged. Extend one arm forward while simultaneously extending your opposite leg straight back. Pause for a moment before returning to starting position. Alternate sides.
Does Cycling Work Your Core?
Since your core is the foundation from which you draw your pedaling power, you do get a core workout from riding your bike.
In addition to this, the constant balance and maneuvering on your bike keeps your core engaged and supporting your body on the bike.
However, there is not enough of a core workout to keep your body balanced.
To make sure you do not forget to exercise your core, try to incorporate some type of routine that includes specific core exercises.
Is it Safe to Work out on Top of Cycling?
Depending on how often and how hard you ride, you may be worried that a separate core workout routine will be too much.
Please make sure you seek advice from a medical or sports professional before introducing any new workout to your current routine.
Why Cyclist Should Work Their Core?
Although it seems like your legs reap all the benefits of cycling, your core actually plays a few very important roles.
Firstly, you use your core to keep yourself balanced on the bike. This is also how you are able to maneuver the bike.
As well, the core is the foundation for your legs. In order to get the most power and efficiency out of your pedaling, you need a solid core as a foundation.
Finally, the core is a major muscle group that helps you support yourself on the bike for long stretches of time.
Since cycling comes down to your overall endurance as well as your pedaling power, it is really beneficial for cyclists to focus on core-specific exercises.
How Often Should Cyclists Workout Their Core?
Since cycling can be an exhausting workout in and of itself, you can probably get away with exercising your core 2-3 times per week.
As always, please seek the advice of a medical or sports professional before getting in too far over your head with a new workout.
In conclusion, there are many exercises that cyclist can do to improve their core strength and fitness.
Use this list as a reference and a guide for your future workouts and make sure you take it slow.
Safe riding and good luck!