For many athletes the competitive season is winding down and that means the off-season – a time of relaxation. However, this doesn’t mean your training stops.
Team doctor for the BMC cycling team, Dr. Max Testa, recommends a core strengthening program to all his riders. In an article on Bicycling.com, Dr. Testa’s research showed that a “weak core is less efficient late in a workout or race, and can lose as much as five percent of their power compared with a rider who has a stronger core.”
Have you ever wondered why those last miles in your ride are so incredibly hard? Weak core muscles could be the cause.
Dr. Testa recommends strengthening the back muscles during core-training. The reason he explains is that the back is one of two major stabilizers, along with the hips, and especially comes into play when a rider stands to climb.
Interestingly not only does Dr. Testa recommend strengthening the back by doing a superman or plank exercises, he also has his riders jump rope for one-minute.
Dr. Testa tells Bicycling, “The exercise (jumping rope) keeps an athlete’s heart rate elevated, and each landing from a hop triggers an eccentric contraction. Plus, the light pounding stimulates bone-density growth.”
The doctor doesn’t prescribe core workouts to the BMC riders exclusively for the off-season. Unless they’re riding in a grand tour, such as the Tour de France, the riders continue to do core workouts, consisting of two to four circuits of 10 to 12 exercises to increase their strength and stability, throughout the year.
The concept of zero activity during your sport’s off-season is outdated. Barring an injury that requires inactivity in order to heal, some type of workout during the winter months is vital and the benefits carry over to your sport of choice.
High Impact Interval Training (HIIT) classes utilize the workouts Dr. Testa recommends: from jumping rope, planks, and strengthening the back, to name a few, while keeping the heart rate elevated. Core classes strengthen the stabilizer muscles which are used when climbing out of the saddle.
So if you’re looking to improve in your sport, don’t be myopic in your training. In addition to your cycling or running include core and HIIT classes to make this off-season your most productive.