Adding Core Strength to Your Indoor Cycling Program
Overall, I feel that most instructors do a good job at addressing the ‘core’, that area that seems to trouble some of us the most and eludes others as to what that term actually means. This part of the body has been dwindled down to simply be defined as your abdominal region, but your core is so much more than just that. It is the central area of your body that provides the strength and power to support the rest of your body. Not only does this area include your abs, but also obliques, lower and upper back as well as the pelvic region. These are the areas that are worked when properly executing core exercises.
In addition to strengthening one’s core, it is also important to provide this area with fluidity. This would translate to one’s flexibility or smoothness in a movement when performing an exercise. Not only does strength become a factor, but one’s ability to travel through the exercise with a fluid motion translates into good form while working the muscle and being pain-free.
There are so many benefits to core training. To try and sum up just a few of them, students who work the core area properly will notice their waist line slimming down, an increase in overall strength, improved balance and for some individuals, less pain in the back. My favorite core training movements are those that are multi-joint, working more than one area of the body or the core region at the same time. This concept will force students to recognize their body’s ability to maintain balance, stability, fluidity and strength all at the same time.
Adding in a cardio component to core work is a brilliant combination. One of my personal favorites is utilizing this with my indoor cycling classes, specifically with the Evo bike. While on the bike, the side to side motion engages your entire core region, so not only are you burning calories from the cycling but you are also beginning to strengthen the entire core region of your body. Then getting off of the bike, as if you are in a circuit training program, and continuing to focus on multi-joint core movement, will not only keep heart rates up, but will challenge the body in a new format. On average, I burn approximately 645 calories in a hybrid class such as this!
Below is a sample one hour cycling and core workout, but with a twist! All of the exercises done off of the bike involve multi-joint, core training but also involve oscillation or isolation of different parts of the body to challenge a student’s balance and strength. What’s truly important to remember in these exercises is that they can be modified; beginners can hold on to a stable wall, barre or bike, while those who are more seasoned can add weight through dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands or tubing to make the workouts more challenging.
I have sectionalized a sample workout below. Personally, I create my workouts in sections so that I can mix and match according to the classes I am teaching. While this workout specifically focuses on core mixed with cardio, other workouts, such as the article written called “It’s All In The Mix – Hybrid Training”, focus on overall body strength conditioning and cardio format. I can use a section of this workout in a different style of class that might fuse a more varied workout in it as well. Whatever the workout is that you might teach or be a student of, core training is essential to each workout and I hope you enjoy this twist on your standardized core exercises.
Sample Indoor Cycling and Core Workout on the Evo Bike – One Hour
- On the Bike – 10 minutes
- Warm-Up – 4 minutes
- Speed work out of the saddle with a 45 second walk, 30 second run and a 15 second sprint done 4 times – 6 minutes
- Off the bike – 5 minutes
- Squat and Overhead Swing – 15 on each side
- Helicopters – Rotational twist at the obliques with arms stretched in an L shape in front of the body. Timed for one minute and done in between the squat segment.
- On the Bike – 8 minutes
- Rolling Hills – 1 minute out of the saddle at a high leg speed of 80 rpm, 30 seconds on a fast downhill speed in the saddle 90 – 110 rpm done 4 times – 6 minutes.
- Fast Flat in the saddle – 2 minutes.
- Off the bike – 8 minutes
- Lever Lunge – Lunges are done switching legs. Weight starts overhead and twists to opposite side of the body and then returns to above the head when legs come back together. 10 on each side. Repeat.
- Hip Swings – While holding on to a stable object or balancing, leg is low to the floor and turns in, then out, then is lift up towards the shoulder in a turned out position. Leg is then held up and pulses. 2 sets of 10 of each on each side and done in between lever lunge segment.
- On the Bike – 9 minutes
- Jumps in and out of the saddle – 4 minutes
- Short Hill with High Intensity bursts of 15 second speed done 3 times – 5 minutes
- Off the Bike – 4 minutes
- Plank Thread the Needle Two Ways – Legs, Arms. 10 on each side with each part (total of 40). Repeat again after Russian twists if students are advanced.
- Russian Twists – Timed for one minute
- On the Bike – 7 minutes
- Switch Backs – traveling from a standing position to a climbing position with slight increase in resistance. Total of three sets. – 4 minutes
- Finish Line – speed work in the saddle and finishing out of the saddle in a run – 3 minutes.
- Off the Bike – 4 minutes
- Side Lunges with an Upper Twist – 12 sets on each side done 2 times.
- Swimming Superman – lying on stomach, stretch out arms and legs and pretend like you are swimming in the water. 15 seconds with a rest in between of 15 seconds done three times.
- Cool Down and Stretch!
Susan Janson is the owner and head trainer of Kick It Up, a dance and indoor cycling studio in Long Beach, CA. Susan began dancing at age 4 and quickly fell in love with all forms of dance and dreamed of doing nothing else. Having graduated from the Imperial School of Dance at age 14, Susan performed with many professional groups, such as the Southern California Dance Theatre and Rhapsody in Taps. Since 2004,, she has enjoyed teaching the “little ones” all the way up to adults and loves being Miss Susan! Find out more.