As a cyclist, you don’t want to neglect core strength. These key midsection muscles provide the stabilization and upright posture you need to ride efficiently and injury-free. And you don’t need a ton of time to really turn up the burn in your core—including your abs, back, and glutes.
Proof: This 10-minute core workout designed by Yusuf Jeffers, NASM-certified personal trainer and USATF-certified running coach in New York City, which features creative moves that work your core from many angles, leaving you challenged and ready to dominate your rides.
The Benefits of This 10-Minute Core Workout for Cyclists
You may have already performed planks and sit-ups in your core workouts, but we all need to switch things up from time to time to give our muscles a new challenge. This quick routine puts a spin on familiar moves, so your muscles not only work in new ways, but your mind remains interested, rep after rep. These moves also mimic the movement patterns you hit on the bike, helping you get strong through each pedal stroke.
What’s more: Practicing this 10-minute core workout will help you build the strength you need to ride faster and with quicker turnover. “A strong core helps stabilize the torso, which helps you maintain good posture,” Jeffers says. Better posture on rides can help you ride for longer in comfort and have better control over the bike.
Of course the final benefit is the time. All you need is 10 minutes to squeeze in this quick core circuit. And if you have more time to spare, you can add more rounds and build even more stability. All you have to do is get started!
How to use this list: Perform each exercise in the order listed below for the amount of time described. Go for one round to keep your workout under 10 minutes. If you have extra time, rest for 1 to 2 minutes, then repeat for a second round. Go for a third if you really want to test that core strength!
For this workout you won’t need any equipment but a set of dumbbells and an exercise mat are optional. Each move is demonstrated by Jeffers in the video above so you can learn the proper form.
1. Dead Bug Variation
Why it works: Dead bugs activate almost every muscle of the core (including the rectus abdominis, transverse abdominis, obliques, and hip flexors) and serve as a great move for all fitness levels, says Jeffers. It also trains you to keep your midsection stable, as your arms and legs move.
How to do it: Lie faceup, both legs lifted, knees bent 90 degrees and placed directly over hips. Place left hand on right knee and drive toward each other to create tension. Extend arm straight up, hand in line with shoulder. This is your starting position. Keep spine in a neutral position against the floor and pack shoulders toward the floor. Extend left leg straight out, lowering it toward the floor. Simultaneously extend right arm overhead, also lowering it toward the floor. Keep left hand and right knee together. Pause, then return to starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds. Then switch sides.
2. Heel Tap With Dumbbell Hold
Why it works: This exercise translates directly to riding because it requires core stabilization while you’re moving at the hips, Jeffers says.
How to do it: Lie faceup with both legs lifted, knees bent 90 degrees and placed directly over hips, and hands extended straight up, dumbbell in each hand over shoulder. This is the starting position. Keep spine in a neutral position against the floor and pack shoulders toward the floor. Engage core and lower left heel toward the ground, keeping knee bent. Tap the ground with heel, then lift back up to starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds. Then switch to right leg.
3. Inchworm to Plank Knee Drive
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Bend forward at waist to touch toes, then walk hands out to a high plank position, shoulders over wrists and body forming a straight line from head to heels. Drive right knee toward right elbow, then step back to plank position. Drive left knee to left elbow, then step back to plank position. Repeat for one more rep on each side. Then walk hands back to feet and stand up. Repeat for 1 minute.
4. Split Stance Reverse Chop
Why it works: This is a rotational movement that loads the lower half while working internal and external obliques, one side at a time, says Jeffers.
How to do it: Holding one dumbbell with both hands, take a step back with left foot, heel stays lifted. Bend both knees about 90 degrees. Straighten arms and hold dumbbell to right of left hip. Rotate torso to the right, bringing arms straight up and overhead. Keep hips and legs steady. Slowly lower dumbbell back to left hip. Repeat for 30 seconds. Then switch sides.
5. Reverse Mountain Climber
Why it works: This variation of the mountain climber will challenge your core strength, while building extra strength in your glutes. It also teaches you to keep your hips stable through the knee drive.
How to do it: Start seated, legs straight, toes pointing toward the ceiling, hands behind you on floor, and fingers pointing out to the sides. Squeeze glutes to lift hips up, hold, then drive right knee toward chest. Place it back back down in reverse plank. Then drive left knee toward chest. Place it back down in reverse plank. Repeat for one more rep on each side. Then lower hips back to floor, glutes hovering. Repeat for 1 minute.
6. Single-Leg Balance with Y Hold
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing toward each other and arms down by sides. Engage core to raise both hands up above head, so arms are parallel to ears and each other, forming a “Y” with both arms. Keep core engaged, lift left foot off ground and bend knee at 90-degree angle. Hold for 30 seconds. Then switch legs.
7. Dumbbell Bicycle With Press
Why it works: Adding weights to the traditional bicycle crunch will definitely fire up your core muscles. The press also targets the shoulders and adds to the oblique work.
How to do it: Lie faceup, feet lifted, with knees right over hips. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulders. Lift head, neck, and shoulders off the floor. This is the starting position. Extend right leg and rotate torso to the left, pressing right weight straight up and across body to left side. Return through center, re-bending right knee and lowering weight. Extend left leg, rotating torso to the right, pressing left hand straight up and across to right side. Continue alternating. Repeat for 1 minute.
8. Sprinter Sit-Up
Why it works: Fire up your core with this sit-up variation. Jeffers says this move is perfect for cyclists because it mimics familiar movement patterns.
How to do it: Lie faceup on the mat with legs straight out and arms by sides. Engage core to sit up while driving right arm forward and bringing left leg to chest. Lower back to floor. Repeat on opposite side. Continue alternating for 1 minute.
Monique LeBrun joined the editorial staff in October 2021 as the associate health and fitness editor. She has a master’s degree in journalism and has previously worked for ABC news and Scholastic. She is an avid runner who loves spending time outside.