Core Strength Recommendations

I’ve been looking at improving my core strength and I am aware of many guides to exercises that are applicable to cyclists, however, I have been unable to find good benchmarks for these exercises. I am motivated by performance goals and therefore I wondered whether any of you have stumbled across specific performance benchmarks for bodyweight core exercises. For example, duration of a plank.

I know there are TR bench marks but these focus on free weight exercises

TLDR; what are good performance goals for core strength (plank duration / side plank duration)?

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Planks aren’t really a great core exercise. There are good core strengthening exercises you can do for sure, but how much time do you have? Because being able to squat and deadlift at the levels in the link above are going to give you a fairly strong core.

Edit: reference on the planks not being great, since that might be slightly controversial:

Despite the click bait title, Jeff knows what he’s talking about and has a Masters in Physiotherapy.


Certainly interesting and Jeff makes a compelling case. He suggests that rotational stability is more important; do you think the Strength train recommendations cover this also?

I suppose I will work towards the strength training recommendations then :slight_smile:

To an extent - and that’s probably all I would focus on until you hit the benchmarks set by Chad if I were you. Most of the movement in the main lifts though is in the sagittal plane, so it won’t challenge rotational stability to the same degree as more targeted exercises. But by virtue of not collapsing under the load of a 150% body-weight squat, you’re exhibiting some degree of anti-rotational strength etc.

Jeff also has some good videos where he breaks down the major anatomical components of the core, and has some core routines that I’ve followed. That was mostly before I started cycling though, and was for strengthening my core for motorcycle racing, which is a lot more dynamic and challenging on your upper body and core - you’re moving around a lot more, under much higher g-forces, and have the added challenge of almost never being able to put weight on your handle-bars as if you’re too rigid, you could amplify any instability leading to a crash if things get out of shape. Anyway, I sort of got lazy and stopped doing the core routines (this was on top of normal strength routine). Took up cycling as good cardio to help with motorcycle racing (although I’m now way more focused on cycling funnily enough), and after a few months of unstructured, long rides, tried picking up a core strength routine again, and found I could actually do more & higher quality reps than I could before! All the bike riding is really the only explanation for the increase in core strength I can think of. So that’s another aspect to consider - spending longer in the saddle may reap the double benefit of improving your cycling and strengthening your core at the same time.

The other option is to have your strength routine incorporate unilateral exercises with a balance component as a way to get some core work in there as well. For example, my current routine involves the following alternating workouts:

Workout A:

  • Barbell back squats
  • Dumbbell bench press on an exercise ball
  • Bent over single-arm dumb-bell rows
  • Single-leg deadlifts with a kettlebell

Workout B:

  • Deadlift
  • Dumbbell overhead press, alternating arms and standing on one leg
  • Pull-ups
  • Step-ups with dumbbells for added weight

Both of these I can smash out in under 30 minutes at the gym. Squats and deadlifts are the main lifts I care about lifting heavy for, as I’ve found the greatest benefit to my cycling there. The others, I’ve exceeded Chad’s recommendations before, and I’m comfortable continuing to practice those movements with lower weights, but in a way that promotes more balance and gives me a bit of a core workout at the same time, as well as just generally feeling healthy and what not.

All that said, if you find you have specific weak spots (again, I think Jeff has a great video on a few things you can do to try and diagnose any weaknesses in your core), it might be worth incorporating exercises targeting those areas specifically.


Really appreciate the comprehensive reply! :facepunch:

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Piling on… My wife bought the Athlean-X membership and she is loving it. Has done a couple programs now. She is one of those people that follows a plan to the letter and also focuses on doing every movement very precisely.

I have followed Jeff’s YouTube stuff for years, but I’m more into cycling with a bit of lifting so have not done his programs. As I watch his stuff, and see his programs through my wife, am more and more impressed.

For core - I really like some of the 10 minute TRX routines. Problem is you need to be pretty strong to do those those. And you need the TRX kit.

Jeff has a really good Core Shuffle program using mostly physiology ball, rubber bands and body weight. That is nice for the variation and the app works well. Having the small video “how to do the movement” segments is helpful when starting.

Finally - agree on static planks. I used to do a ton of planks but have moved toward more dynamic moves in the last couple years. Movement is better almost always.



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Regarding abdominal strengthening, I prefer full situps with knees, hips flexed. Back extensions lying prone on Doctor’s type exam table, legs secure and being fully flexed at waist lifting torso to neutral. The muscles also need dynamic strengthening, planks, etc. are isometric. Hope this is helpful.

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Old but good.


I am now fairly hacked off thinking that the plank app I’d been working through was helping. Sure the yoga still is

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