Improve cycling or running performance with this four-week core strength challenge

You can improve your performance as well as build stability and a little belly definition with this four-week core strength challenge!


Strengthening your core muscles (the front and back of your torso) is one of the best bangs for the buck in improving cycling and running performance.

With this core strength challenge, you’ll building endurance, stability, and performance while riding a bike or running.

Your core holds you upright, allows you to twist and turn, and stabilizes the movements of your arms and legs.

You can do this core strength challenge several times a week to strengthen the four main muscle groups of the core: the spinal erector muscles that go up along your spine, the rectus abdominis (your “six-pack”), the obliques that go around your sides, and the transverse abdominis, a layer that goes under the obliques and six-pack muscles.

There are, of course, many other muscles that help stabilize your body, especially in your hips.

These movements work to strengthen all of the muscles.

Image created by author on Canva

Here are the exercises for the core strength challenge:

Core Strength Challenge: Planks

Here’s how to do the Planks: Do these either on your elbows or hands. You can also use your knees with a straight body as a modification. Extend your legs back and lift your hips so your body is a straight line from shoulders to heels. This works all the core muscles!

Core Strength Challenge: Hollow

Here’s how to do the Hollows: Lie on your back. Raise your arms overhead with your hands on the ground. Press the small of your back into the floor, squeezing your abs tightly. Then, raise your feet and knees off the ground. Straighten your legs and extend them just off the floor. Raise your torso off the ground so that ONLY the hollow of your back is on the ground. Hold for eight to 12 seconds. This works everything!

Core Strength Challenge: Super Hero

Here’s how to do the Super Hero: Lie on your belly with your arms extended forward. If you have shoulder pain at all, you can keep your hands by your shoulders or at your waist. Raise your arms off the ground, then your torso. Raise your legs off the ground and hold both arms and legs in the air so only your belly is on the floor.

Core Strength Challenge: Donkey Kicks

Here’s how to do Donkey Kicks: Get on your hands in knees in a similar position to Bird Dog. Raise one leg, bend at the knee and kick up at the ceiling. You can make it more difficult by raising one arm. Focus on using your glutes to push the kick upwards. This works your spinal erectors, as well as your glutes and hamstrings.

Core Strength Challenge: Elbow Plank Rotation

Here’s how to do the Elbow Plank Rotation: With your elbows on the floor, lift your hips so there’s a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Brace your belly by pulling it into your spine. Lift your right elbow off the floor and rotate so your right hand points at the ceiling. Come back down to your elbows. Lift your left hand up. You can be on your knees, as a modification. This works your obliques and transverse abdominis.

Core Strength Challenge: Glute Bridge

Here’s how to do Glute Bridges: Lie on your back and bring your heels as close to your butt as you can. With your arms at your side (or crossed on your chest), lift your hips into the air as high as you can. Squeeze your glutes hard. This strengthens your spinal erector muscles as well as your glutes and hamstrings.

Core Strength Challenge: Bird Dog

Here’s how to do the Bird Dogs: On your hands and knees, extend opposite foot and arm. Point your toe at the ground so your heel points backward to activate your glute. You can bring your knee up to your elbow in a crunch to make this more challenging.

Week 1 of the Core Strength Challenge:

Your core workout from home can be done every day or at least three days a week.

Build up to 30 seconds of a elbow or hand plank

10 Bird Dog Crunches

Hold a Glute Bridge for 10 seconds three times

Do three Hollows of six seconds.

Week 2 of Core Strength Challenge:

Work up to one minute of elbow plank

Do three Hollows of 10 seconds

Do two elbow plank rotations on each side

Hold a Super Hero for eight seconds three times.

Week 3 of the Core Strength Challenge:

Work up to 90 seconds in Plank

Do three Hollows of 12 seconds

Do four Elbow Plank Rotations on each side.

Hold a Glute Bridge for 30 seconds three times with a short rest.

Do four Donkey Kicks on each side.

Week 4 of the Core Strength Challenge:

Work up to a two-minute plank

Do five Hollows for 12 seconds each

Hold a Superhero for 30 seconds

Do five Donkey Kicks on each side

Do five Elbow Planks on each side.

Hold a Glute Bridge for 40 seconds

This core strength challenge workout will improve stability

Your core workout from home will help build full body strength that will increase your biking and running performance.

By strengthening the front and back of your torso, you increase your ability to build force.

Plus, core training builds stability as you move, particularly with mountain biking, cyclocross, and trail running.

A strong core means more endurance, power, and speed

If your core is strong, you’ll endurance, speed, and power will be ready when you need them.

Most research suggests that doing active isometric work to build core strength and stability is far more effective and safer than crunches or sit-ups.

For cyclists and runners, a strong core is the key to creating forward movement.

We have to have a stable core (your trunk from hips to shoulders) in order to move our legs and arms forward.

Want to know more about what you can achieve?

I help a limited number of cyclists and runners achieve their goals with more strength, endurance, and mobility.

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Paul Warloski is a:

  • USA Cycling Level 3 Coach
  • RRCA Running Coach
  • Training Peaks Level 2 Coach
  • RYT-200 Yoga Instructor
  • Certified Personal Trainer



Paul Warloski, Simple Endurance Coaching
In Fitness And In Health

I help everyday endurance athletes reach their adventure and challenge goals through personalized, holistic training, strength work, and yoga.