Workout Wednesday: Core Strength for Stationary or Road Cycling

Indoor and Outdoor Cycling | Foundation Training | The Life Delicious

Tips on postural strength plus a motivating soundtrack for a 45-minute stationary spin

I’m a relatively new road cyclist and am still not completely comfortable riding around in traffic. When it comes to personal physical safety my motto is overzealous cautiousness.

In that light, I'm a huge fan of bike trainers. I’m building my cycling confidence, form and fitness while remaining totally safe. We currently have a bike trainer on loan from a friend and are trying to decide what type and brand to purchase for ourselves.

We’re really fortunate to have a large patio at our home, part of it covered, so even on a rainy day where I don’t feel like getting wet, I have no excuse not to get out there for a spin.

Cycling is a fantastic cardiovascular exercise and a great, no-impact alternative to running

As with every type of exercise – be it cardio, strength or flexibility training – I think focusing on form, incessantly, especially in the beginning, to create strong and optimal neuromuscular connections is vital.

Put in the time to create the muscle memory for ideal posture, and eventually it will become second-nature (just like playing scales on the piano or perfecting your golf swing).

Strengthen Your Posterior Chain

I discovered a kindred spirit when I discovered Dr Eric Goodman, a California-based chiropractor, speaker (check out his awesome TEDtalk, above), and author of the must-read book Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move With Confidence.

During my years working in a gym, I saw so many people focusing on their fronts, with endless sets of chest presses and crunches. I have nothing against those exercises but I noticed a large imbalance in the number of exercises most people were doing for the front of their bodies versus the back of their bodies, like rows, good mornings, deadlifts, and back extensions.

Because a very large percentage of the work force sits, likely all day at a computer – which creates an imbalance where the muscles in the front of the body (chest, abs, hip flexors) become shorter and tighter, and the muscles in the back of the body (rhomboids, spinal erectors) become longer and weaker – focusing on strengthening the back of the body, or the posterior chain, more than the front of the body is an excellent idea. It's an idea I drill into my clients' heads.

Foundation Training

Focusing on strengthening the posterior chain is precisely what Goodman preaches, too. “Foundation training is based on the simple but unique idea that strengthening the posterior chain allows the strong muscles in your back to do their job of supporting the weight of the upper body and propelling movement,” says Goodman.

With personal trainer Peter Park, Goodman “joined forces to develop a series of exercises designed to change destructive movement patterns and build a powerful posterior chain, which begins with a strong lower back.”

Pick up a copy of the book for a detailed explanation of the basic Foundation workout, a moderate and intense workout, bonus exercises, and a foam roller workout (Goodman calls foam rolling the "poor man's massage").

Quick Workout: Postural Strength for Improved Cycling

Check out the video below with Goodman and Park demonstrating a quick workout, aimed at cyclists, for developing postural strength

Spin workout music mix

Click here to check out my latest spin mix, with a nice long warm up followed by a slow and steady climb, sprinkled with a few steep sections. Enjoy!


Fit Tip: Exercise for a Cause

Signing up for a charity event that involves physical activity is a great way to help yourself while helping others. Last week my husband and I participated in a charity bike ride in support of the Children’s Wish Foundation and Win4Youth.

It was a very small start – only 15 km – but we only decided to participate at the last minute to support my dear friend Lana who is the branch manager at Holloway Schulz, a professional recruitment company owned by the Adecco Group.

Adecco’s Bike Across America tour, with participating branches from Vancouver, BC to Jacksonville, Florida, is part of their Win4Youth initiative for which they donate money for every kilometre cycled to “support organizations that help prepare children for success in the world of work.”

In addition to Adecco’s charitable efforts with Win4Youth, each branch got to pick their own local, youth-oriented charity that also received a donation for every kilometre cycled, and Holloway Schulz chose the Children’s Wish Foundation, an organization for which Lana sits on the board of directors.

I had a really fun time on the ride through gorgeous Stanley Park and got to meet Adecco staff from Toronto, Ottawa and New York, local employees and clients from Holloway Schulz, and a few athletes from the Canadian Sport Centre Pacific. All that fun has me thinking about signing up for another event. What great motivation to get out there and train for a bike ride, run or swim, knowing that your efforts will also benefit others.

If you’re thinking of signing up for a charity fitness event, here are a few places to get started: