How to build a stronger core

Four tips for improving your core strength

The cobra is one exercise that can help strengthen your core

Core training is crucial to performance insists Jo McRae, trainer and author of RideStrong: Essential Conditioning For Cyclists.


1. Get on the ball

These exercises target muscles that are weakened by the cycling position. A crucial piece of kit is a Swiss ball, which helps stimulate your core to become active because of its inherent instability. It makes demands on core muscles before the drills begin. Use it for core-targeting exercises such as hip extensions, which are great for strengthening glutes and back.

2. Build an extension

For hip extensions, lie on the floor with your legs on the ball and your arms outstretched at your sides, level with your shoulders. Push down with your legs and lift your hips and chest as high as you can, drawing your navel in as you move, and squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. Hold the top position for five seconds before returning your hips to the floor.

3. Face the floor

A floor move to strengthen weak areas of the back and hips is the prone cobra. Lie flat on your front, head turned to one side, arch your arms at your side, with thumbs pointing away from you. Lift your upper back off the floor, turning your thumbs backwards as you move. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, stretch the front of your chest and keep your neck long.


4. Raise a cobra

A Swiss ball variation on the prone cobra helps postural strength. Lying over the ball with it beneath your hips and your feet against a wall — a little wider than hip width apart — raise your body into the prone cobra position, extending the back, turning your arms backwards and engaging your glutes. Hold for 20 seconds then relax. Do this three times per set for two to three sets.