November 16, 2015
by Alison Powers, ALP Cycles Coaching
Not a lot of attention is spent on how we sit on our bike. Yes, most of us take the time to get a proper bike fit, which is good. However, a proper bike fit is one thing, what you do with your body in that fit is another thing. How do you sit on your bike and do you make use of strong core muscles to provide a solid base from which to make power and ride pain free?
During a session of Pilates a few months back, it came to my attention that if I rode my bike using the same muscles in my core as I do in Pilates, I would ride stronger, longer and more pain free. We all spend time working on our core strength, but if we don’t use that core strength when riding, then it doesn’t really matter. Without utilizing our core muscles, our spines will collapse, pain will ensue, followed by poor and/or un-enjoyable cycling performance.
This got me thinking. When I ride my bike with a strong core, not only do my watts go up and I clear technical terrain more easily, it feels almost like I am doing a plank or getting ready to do a push up. I have a long and open spine. My low belly is working and my shoulders are down and back. I’m gently pulling back with my arms opening my belly (helping me breathe) while also helping to stabilize. This plugs everything in together – into my core. I am pain free and I am strong.
Take a minute to think about it – if your position and how you sit on the bike is a position that you would not do a push-up in, then your posture on the bike is wrong. If you bounce or have excessive upper body movement when you pedal, then your core is not working. If you are sinking into any parts of your back or shoulders when riding, then your core is not working. Get your low belly working. The stronger your low belly gets, it will make your back more stable and you’ll have added power to the pedals.
Pay attention to how you sit on the bike – especially when you ride hard. Do you have a long, open spine or are you sinking into any parts of your spine? Are you sitting on your sit bones? Is your low belly working? Your shoulders should be down, back, and open.
Pull gently with your arms to plug it all together. You should feel like you are doing a plank in perfect form.
Spend time this off season to dial in your core strength and your posture and the bike. Come Spring with long hours on the bike, the last thing you want to endure is back pain and old, bad, habits.
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ABOUT ALISON POWERS
Alison Powers only recently retired from cycling, finishing her final season on the UnitedHealthcare Women’s Team. Her career has spanned a wide array of wins, including the 2013 USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship where she won in memorable fashion by soloing after an early breakaway that obliterated the pro women’s peloton. Other standout results during the 33-year-old’s 2013 season include the win at Redlands Bicycle Classic, second at the Tour of Elk Grove, third at the US National Road Championship and the US National Time Trial Championship, and stage wins at Cascade Classic, Tulsa Tough, Tour of the Gila and Redlands Bicycle Classic. Hailing from Fraser, Colorado, Powers has been racing bikes professionally for eight years and is a true athlete with her career beginning as a teenager in mountain bike racing. In her mid 20s, she added in alpine ski racing before switching over to the road. In addition to being the current Criterium National Champion, Powers has two other national championships (Time Trial, Team Pursuit) and 2 NRC titles (2009, 2013).
About ALP Cycles Coaching
ALP Cycles Coaching is located in the mountains of Colorado, and is a cycling coaching company with over 25 years of professional sports experience. ALP Cycles Coaching is unique in that we have 4 coaches, Alison Powers, Jennifer Triplett, and Patricia Schwager who each brings her own coaching strengths and personal experiences. We work together to create a training plan that works for each and every person. Visit them online at http://alpcyclescoaching.com
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