Occasionally I have wondered about cross-training, something to supplement my exclusive emphasis on cardio-based cycling workouts.  When recovery days come, shouldn’t I be doing something else?  My problem is that I am not interested in just random workouts, and my experience has left me with the vivid conviction that repetitive non-cardio work is stupefyingly tedious and boring.  Further, I don’t want to do overall body building, aside from maintaining a basically acceptable muscle tone.  Since I don’t use a gym, weight machines are out of the question, even if I understood how to use them and wanted to, which I don’t.

At the same time, when I look in the mirror I realize that while my leg muscles are in pretty good shape by now, just north of there, in my core area, work is needed.  Cycling has really lessened (though not wholly cured) my inclination to get periods of lower back pain, but my abdominal muscles look less like a six-pack and more like an old wineskin.

So the other day I scoured the Web for low-impact abs workouts.  Got some good ideas, but then a better one came along in the new Bicycling magazine (March 2010, p. 51 ff).  It is an article about moving beyond a “plateau” level of conditioning and performance, something I think I’ve hit for sure.  Part of the plan is core strength exercises specifically focused on those muscles used for cycling.  There’s an alternative, more general, core exercise set also.   Yesterday I tried the first, and it felt great, which is to say healthily painful.  No crunches here, but reverse crunches and a few other things.  The routine is challenging, but is broken up by varied activities and resting between sets of the same exercise.  After I did this (using an old baby crib mattress for a pad) I felt for the first time that I was truly starting to work my way into a larger world of useful cycling exercise activity.  Just the thing for those “rest” days.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010

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