Do core stabilization exercises enhance cycling efficiency?


  • EJ Weijmans Department of Sports Medicine, Isala, Zwolle, the Netherlands
  • S van Berkel Department of Sports Medicine, Isala, Zwolle, the Netherlands


Background: Core stabilization exercises have been advertised as potential enhancers of endurance and efficiency in cycling. A steady core is said to allow for proper body positioning, preventing unnecessary energy loss and will thus allow for maintaining speed and power for a longer time.Previous studies published on core stabilization training in other sports show mixed results. However, no studies addressing a potential effect on gross cycling efficiency (GE) have been published. 
Purpose: The aim of this pilot study was to analyze the possible effect of an eight week core-stability training program on trunk balance and gross cycling efficiency.
Methods: 13 well-trained cyclists were included in an 8 week core-stability training program. The daily program consisted of both static and dynamic versions of the plank, side plank, bird-dog, superman, cycling crunch and pulse up exercises lasting an average of 10 minutes per session.Steady-state oxygen uptake and GE were determined as participants approached RER 1.0 (de Koning et al, 2012: Int J Sports Med, 33, 880–885).  Grip-strength and the Y-balance test (Coughlan et al, 2012: J Athl Train, 47, 366–371) were used to measure balance. Training compliance was monitored using an online log. GE and core-stability measurements were performed at baseline and after 8 weeks.
Results: An improvement of gross cycling efficiency could not be found (average at baseline 22.0%; after training 22.5%; p=0.26). Compliance to the program was very good, with an average of 84% (75 – 98%) sessions trained. All participants demonstrated an improvement in postero-lateral reach. Three participants reported an episode of lower back discomforts which they attributed to the superman exercise.
Discussion: Our results did not show an improvement of GE after an 8 week core-stability training program. However, current sample size is small and reported values are very close to the +/- 2% error margin of the spirometry hardware used. In 2 participants, we were unable to accurately determine GE. According to our spirometry readings they were unable to attain a steady state in the second test. However, mentioned participants reported a perceived rate of exertion that was lower than expected at RER 1.0. The reason for this discrepancy is unknown. A possible measurement error can be assessed by measuring blood lactate in future tests.
Conclusion: As competitions can be won or lost in fractions of seconds, improving one’s gross efficiency by means of core-stability training could be beneficial. The results of our current pilot study can be used to power future research in this area.


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Author Biography

EJ Weijmans, Department of Sports Medicine, Isala, Zwolle, the Netherlands

Universidad Miguel Hernández, Elche.
Spanish Cycling Federation.
Movistar Team, UCI Pro Tour Cycling Team, Pamplona, Spain.



How to Cite

Weijmans, E., & van Berkel, S. (2014). Do core stabilization exercises enhance cycling efficiency?. Journal of Science and Cycling, 3(2), 71. Retrieved from