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Why is core strength so crucial to biking? “A strong core will improve your technique, strength and stamina, and complement everything you do.”

It’s true. Excellent core strength is equated with overall fitness. If you participate in sports like football, basketball and rugby, you are taught to keep your eyes on your opponent’s midsection. That is because no matter how many fakes and feints he throws, he cannot go anywhere without this vitally important part of his body. Until his core moves in one direction or another, he is not going anywhere.

For cycling, as well as in everyday life, core strength is very important. Cyclists obviously need strong legs, but they are next to useless if they are not accompanied by a strong core to drive powerful pedal strokes.

If you are thinking that your core means your abdominal muscles, you are partially correct. Your core actually makes up a complex series of muscles that is located in the area of your body which does not include your arms, legs and head. They include the rectus abdominis, external obliques, internal obliques, transverses abdominis and more than 12 other muscle sets.

All of these muscles combine to make up the “core” of your physical being. Whether tackling a long climb, powering down for a burst of speed, leaning hard into a turn or just cruising along, your core is important for balance, power, agility and control.

When your core muscles are weak, you restrict the full capacity of your lungs. This means you don’t breathe as deeply as you need to. Breathing is how you send oxygenated blood to all parts of your body, and your brain. This means a strong core helps every mental and physical process that is needed to participate at any level of cycling. Simply put, when your hips, lower back, pelvis and stomach muscles are all strong, your cycling ability improves.

Your balance, agility and control all improve with a strong core. These are all components of stability, which is one of the key aspects of cycling. If you do not present a stable, sturdy frame on your bike, you will become very familiar with the term “road rash”.

A strong core group of muscles also helps prevent injuries. When this group of muscles is capable, you can react quicker and avoid accidents or mishaps. A strong core even speeds up recovery time, which means you get back on the cycling trail quicker when you work at strengthening this important muscle group.