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.
Hex Bar Deadlift
I won’t go into proper deadlift or squat form but I believe the overall benefits of the muscles engaged in deadlifts and squats are really beneficial to riding. Be sure to have someone with proper deadlift form give you advice on if you’re new to this move. I use this hex bar you can stand in and essentially perform a squat but the weight is below me versus resting on my shoulders. I’ll do 2 to 3 sets of 6 to 10 with weight between around 130 and 180lbs.