Lost the feeling of power in your legs halfway through a race? Can’t feel like you could mount or dismount from your cyclocross bike without feeling like you were ready to pull out your back? So often, these symptoms are met with a “Welcome back to the cyclocross season” kind of demeanor. Yet rather than just let your body adapt through racing, there are ways of preventing fatigue rather than waiting for the cure. In Issue 26, we took a look at measures that cyclocrossers could take for stretching out muscles, exercises that could be done anywhere from an airport lounge to the break room.
For today’s Technique Tuesday, Allen Krughoff addresses the other part of the sore back equation: preparing the core for the load of cyclocross. Build up the leg strength all you want, without entering the season with the proper core, and the legs won’t fare for long with all the surging, upper body movement, and off the bike work that cyclocross demands.
Allen Krughoff rides for the Noosa Professional Cyclocross team. To track the team and get cyclocross articles like this right to your inbox, you can sign up for the Noosa CX Team letter here. ENVE Composites helped Krughoff bring this content to life.
by Allen Krughoff
Last season was my most successful year of racing ’cross, an achievement that I credit gaining experience and improving across the board, but a key difference for me was regular strength training in the summer leading up to the season opener. At the first three rounds of UCI races—CrossVegas, Boulder and Madison—I was at the front battling for the podium every race and a large part of that is thanks to my improved strength and the time I put in during the months prior.
Through my relationship with APEX Coaching, I do strength workouts twice per week all summer. These are group sessions led by Erin Carson and take place at RallySport in Boulder, Colorado. The class is constantly changing, using different muscle groups, but always incorporates aspects of balance, strength and mobility.
Through regular strength training my seated power improved significantly and the ability to produce power across bumpy or variable terrain became less of a stress to my back and more of a place to put in time on other racers. In addition, the moments where you find yourself in a strange position off the bike or negotiating an awkward ride/run stretch are less taxing and there’s a reduced risk of injury.
There’s a multitude of great strength and cross-training workouts that are helpful for ’cross and this is by no means a comprehensive guide. Instead, I’ve put together a handful of exercises that are a great starting point to help you prepare your body for the season ahead. The best thing you can do is work with a strength coach to ensure you’re getting the most out of your time at the gym and using proper form to prevent injury. You can see these workouts and others at Erin Carson’s website.
Half-kneeling single arm rotations
This is a mobility workout to open up the core muscles on the front of your body, which often get tight or short from the amount of time we spend bent over the bike. Take a knee, raise the same arm as the knee that’s up and reach out in front of you. Take your hand and move it to the back of you, rotating your upper body with your eyes/head following your hand.
I do 15 rotations on each side, 2 sets.
ViPR single leg squat and reach
Assume a one legged bent over squat with a similar hip angle to riding in your drops. Hold a ViPR and alternate touching the ends of it to a marker slightly out in front and to the side of you. The shift in weight will challenge your core and balance muscles while the static load of the bentover position engages your larger cycling muscles in the leg and low back.
I do 20 touches on one leg, then switch for another 20 to make one set and do 2 to 3 sets.