Simple Core / Strength Training Routine

There are a ton of resources online (some on this site) describing a wide variety of core and strength training moves for cyclists. I’m trying to whittle all that down into a twice weekly off season routine that will activate and strengthen the important muscle groups efficiently and effectively as possible.

Here’s what I’m thinking. Comments, suggestions welcome:

Core Exercises
Plank Variations (plank, side plank with trunk rotation, spider man planks), 3 min series
Back Variations (Supermans, Swimmers, Ys, Ws,), 3 min series
Dead Bugs / Bird Dogs, 2x15
Leg Lifts, Single & Double, 2x15
Hip Lifts / Hamstring Curls, 2x15

Weight Lifting 2 sets, 10-15 reps of everything (fewer reps when starting heavier weights)
Squats / Goblet Squats
Single Leg Deadlifts
Bulgarian Squats
Side or Courtesy Lunges
Bent Over Rows
Push Ups (working up to 2x20)
Overhead Dumbell press
pull ups/pull downs

Am I missing anything?



I was about to post a similar question, but asking @steveneal for some advice. He wrote up a basic twice-weekly plan here that looks like the following:

Each set of exercises is done as follows: 5 sets of repeats, exercises done back to back with 1-minute rest between sets.

Day 1
10 x goblet squat (quad dominant)
10 x pushup (horizontal push)
8 x split squat, each leg (quad dominant)
10 x ring row (horizontal pull)

Day 2
10 x trap bar deadlift (hip dominant)
8 x pullups (vertical pull)
10 x stepup (hip and quad dominant)
8 x tall kneeling curl to press (vertical pull and push)

I’m completely new to weight lifting, so I was curious about how you decide on the initial weights to use. Also, @steveneal does “5 sets of repeats, exercises done back to back” mean 50 goblets squats (5x10) followed immediately by 50 pushups (5x10) on Day 1, etc.? Thanks!

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Interesting. Matches up pretty well with my plan except for the side lunges in my list. I was encouraged to include those to get out of the simple vertical plain a bit.

Those 5x10 sets are great for the base training phase. They’ll build a lot of muscular endurance. I would typically move onto fewer reps/heavier weights during the build phase, and then back down to higher reps/sets during the season, once a week.

There is a bit of trial and error in choosing your starting weights, but for the first 3 weeks, I recommend focusing on form. Use light weights, maybe add a bit each week, and just get the movements right. Squats, deadlifts, rows, and even push-ups can hurt you more then they help you if you execute them incorrectly. I learned those movements in a strength training “class” over a number of months. But there are good resources online too.


Wow you found this on the www

The layout didn’t quite make the article.

5 rounds of

goblet squat x10
pushup x10
rest 60-90s

5 rounds of

split squat x8
ring row x10
rest 60-90s

For the first year without seeing some in person/zoom I would highly recommend 3 second negative (eccentric phase) 2 second hold at bottom / 2 sec return or concentric phase.

Start lighter than you think, work on form first.

My goals for this after many months would be 70 kettlebell goblet squat - 10 perfect pushups - bodyweight trap bar deadlift

I have worked with many that will do this for 6-8 months perfecting form, they move into more advanced lifting with much more confidence than many who rush this.

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I would agree to keep your lateral plain movement.

The entire session I would normally use was not in the article.

I would work a lot of other planes with ladder, hurdle and hopping drills, either in the warm-up or between exercises, or both.

For example, I would do a lateral hop and hold drill right before the athlete would step into the trap bar.

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Here is a sample of some progressions for the intro exercises.

Regarding squats if you haven’t ever use a sandbag for squats you should try. When taught to do this correctly, it will fix many issues in a squat that coaches try for months correct in athletes. This exercise will also greatly increase your ability to deadlift. Simple and effective and much cheaper than weights.

Goal would be to eventually be able to carry your bodyweight for 400m and be able to squat the sandbag 10 times with flawless form.

If you want to know what muscles this works, try it you will know the next day. You will then know exactly where a number of different core muscles are as well as the various glute muscles.

Here is a link to any video I have ever done many go back over ten years, but many if not all of these would still be good for many in a program if used in the correct way.

Here is a link to any video I have ever done regarding a strength exercise, many of these go back over 10 years


I think the one thing that I would like to add is this.

Many of us work on core … either overall body or static, during a strength routine. Often during the strength routine you aren’t breathing too hard really, if at all.

There aren’t many sports that require core stability when you aren’t breathing hard.

I would recommend either:

Incorporating a hard effort ( I use an airdyne ) that gets breathing high quickly then do a core set.


When you are doing intervals, jump off the bike when you are breathing, and do some core-focused work while you are breathing hard.

This can be done once you have a good understanding of what BRACING actually is during strength. Then you can move into bracing and breathing which will serve you much better during sport.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!


Are you trying to incorporate all of these into one session?

Here’s my routine, I will do Day A on Wednesdays and Day B on Saturdays or Sundays for a 3 week cycle, and then change the primary workout to something different, but similar, example: reverse lunges shift to split squats and single leg deadlifts shift to traditional barbell deadlifts :

Day A
Reverse Lunge (primary)
Barbell Rows
Lateral Lunges
Spanish Squats

Day B
Single leg Deadlifts (primary)
Barbell Rows
Split Squat
Hip Thrusts

Core Work (2-3x per week)
Suitcase carry
Paloff Press
KB Around World

I found this to be an excellent program: How to Build Serious Single-Leg Strength (And Why It's So Important) - stack

As a MTB and cross racer/rider, I do many of the exercises above while balancing on a Bosu. A few I try to do while balancing on a Swiss ball. This builds balance, hand-eye coordination and core strength. It has really improved my off road riding in many subtle ways. If you are looking for examples and inspiration, check out a few work out videos from Kate Courtney and Nino Schurter.
Kate Courtney Bosu
Nino Schurter balance

I saw that the man himself is on the forums now… I have read all of @HVTraining stuff (articles, books, etc…), went through his training peaks courses and even one of his coached 8wk programs. IMO It’s by and far the best approach to core strength training for cyclists.

What I’m getting at is that it’s not just the exercises you do for your core but how you activate it.

E.g. don’t rush the bird dog:

Or even something as basic as the McGill crunch:


100% how we do these exercises is extremely important, have a trainer/coach who has the knowledge and ability to pass the info along is very important.


Menachem has been my coach for the last 2 years and I made tremendous progress with him. :slightly_smiling_face:


Sandbag squats made me think of this post by Eric Heiden to the Let’s Run forum back in 2012

Before the 1980 Olympics it wasn’t uncommon for us to do the following:

  • Find an old truck tire intertube and cut out about one third of the tire (where the valve is). Seal one end by tying and taping with duct tape.
  • Fill intertube with either lead shot or pennies until alomost full. Seal off other end. I made several sizes but the biggest ones I figured weighed about 150lbs.
  • Swing the anaconda on your lower back and assume the speed skating position. Do 1 x 100 squats with each leg. Do that 5 x. Then repeat with both legs. Going down to slightly below 90 degrees.
  • Right after these we would drop the tube then do 15 - 20 squat jumps as high as you can bringing your legs up to your chest a the peak.

Usually the last one you would fall down because you could not support your weight anymore. Dang, those were the days…and that was only workout number 1…usually we did 3 workouts a day.

  • Weights
  • Dryland skating simulation (duckwalk for 10k)
  • cycling/running
  • repeat.