So Ya Wanna Make the Podium

From the December 2005 Newsletter

More and more fitness experts are advocating the incorporation of core strength into conditioning programs. If you look closely at Lance Armstrong in 1999 and compare that to the Lance of 2005, you will notice a metamorphosis from a thin, climber type to a ripped, bulging, beast of an athlete. Lance was quoted in a 2004 Outside Magazine article as querying, “Does anybody have any duct tape? I’m ripped.”

Your first step to the podium begins with shedding excess weight and developing the six-pack abs prominent in so many of today’s top athletes, including Mr. Armstrong. In addition to abs, your core routine should also include low back, hip flexor, glute and oblique strengthening exercises.

All power emanates from the core. You can spend all winter doing muscle tension intervals, but if you have a weak core, your legs will be empty by the end of the race when it matters most.

Elite athletes train the core muscles every day because they realize the muscles of the trunk and pelvis are responsible for maintaining the stability of the entire skeletal structure. Furthermore, a strong core leads to greater maximal power and more efficient use of shoulders, arms, and legs. Upper body strength will enhance your climbing ability, not to mention your sprint power.

A strong core will also help prevent low back injuries and unnecessary pain. According to Charles Stelk, MPT, in his article Core Strength, found at, “Strong abdominals provide the foundation for training and strengthening every other muscle group.”

If you have not been doing so already, incorporating a core strengthening routine into your workout will have you sprinting, climbing and time trialling faster than ever when 2006 arrives. To strengthen your core, begin with simple exercises such as sit-ups, abdominal crunches, back extensions and leg raises. If you are not certain how to perform these exercises, ask Chris Kroll or myself for some instruction.

Once you learn proper technique, emphasize quality over quantity and work up to multiple sets gradually. A strong, stable core will set the tone for maximizing strength throughout the rest of your body.