How to best engage the core to sustain an aero position with less pressure on the hands?

People say you should “engage the core” when riding in an aggressive position, but it’s not quite clear to me what this actually means. I’d like to be able to ride longer in a more aggressive position without putting any weight on my hands, since cycling tends to wreck my wrists and hands (especially since my day job involves a lot of typing).

It seems to me that the best way to do this is to do the opposite of sucking in the gut. Which is to say, push the stomach out. Not sure what the term for this is. It looks terrible, but it may or may not let me take some weight off the hands. Possibly for similar reasons as the Vasalva maneuver used in weight lifting?

In theory it might make you a little bit more aero, since it makes you rounder while not effecting your cross-section! Haha.

Are you limited by the UCI rules? If not consider going to a preying mantis position. I suffered in an aggressive aero position with my hand/wrist/ ulnar nerve and in the biceps. Since I changed to the preying mantis position which was far more comfortable I knocked minutes of my TT times.

I’m not talking about hyper aggressive TT positions. I have TT bars for TTs!
Really I am talking about being able to ride in a lowish position without undue weight on the hands.

Do you mean on a road bike? A quality fit is your answer. I think my fitter said lowering the saddle slightly would engage the core more. What ever he has done it has certainly helped me on the road bike. Coincidently it was him who fitted me to the preying mantis position on my TT bike.


Actually working on your core a lot through strength training will engage it more, is my experience. As you develop it through strength exercises etc. you will engage it more unconsciously on the bike.

If the objective is to spare your wrists and hands, have you tried a hoods position where your hands are holding the hoods (so it’s legal) but your forearms are resting somewhat on the bars to alleviate pressure through the wrists?

If it’s a drops position, then I tend to simply think about holding the bars lightly and not leaning on them heavily. Figure my body does whatever it needs to do in terms of core engagement to allow that to happen. I do supplement with a decent amount of off the bike stuff including strength work and a bit of cross training in other sports. I’ve always found though that actually spending a good amount of time in an aggressive position is the best way to adapt to it.

Look up bird dogs and McGill crunches on YouTube by human vortex training. Those two workouts teach you to keep your core engaged while breathing and firing your legs

Deadlifts and pistol squats

If you’re loading your hands excessively it could be a bike fit issue.

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You might also want to try Foundation exercises. There is more emphasis on the back as core. I do both. Foundation is by Dr Eric Goodman and Peter Park. The book has all of the exercises.