One of the first things you realize when you start spinning is that this is SO not a lower-body-only workout. While it's true that you will certainly call on those quads, hamstrings, and glutes to help you power up and get those pedals moving, it’s actually your core—specifically those inner stabilization muscles—that helps you do it with efficiency. (Spin smarter with these 9 ways to maximize your ride.)
A tight core can prevent you from slouching over the handlebars or hyperextending your back. A stable core will allow you to pop up to third position with ease and fluidity and avoid all that unnecessary bouncing while in second position. And in the saddle, maintaining a strong core can actually give your legs and hip flexors a much-deserved break. The lower body doesn't need to, and frankly, shouldn't do all the work. Activating your core muscles can ensure you have the stamina to make it through those grueling, sweaty 45 minutes of class. (Spin instructors are sharing their tips and secrets on how to power through their workouts.)
Daniela Iannone, lead instructor at Prime Cycle in Hoboken, NJ, knows a thing or two about abs and arguably even more so about spinning. She even offers a class called AbLab that incorporates an intense 45-minute ride with 15 minutes of core work off the bike that, you guessed it, will make you a better spinner. But besides all that, just take one look at that six-pack and you know she means business.
Iannone created this workout that will burn out your core and make you stronger, so you'll see those power output numbers start to creep up before you know it. And hey, if you happen to build a ripped, flat stomach along the way, even better!
How it works: Perform these abs exercises on your days spent off the bike, or tack them on to the end of a spinning workout for an added bonus.
Total Time: up to 30 minutes
1. Stability Ball Fly Crunch
Lie on a stability ball so that the middle of your back is placed comfortably on the ball. Knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle, feet flat and firmly rooted on the ground. Bring hands behind your head and elbows out to the side.
Lift shoulder blades off the ball to engage core and start sequence. Instead of crunching directly up and forward, roll up in clockwise half-circle motion. Follow same path down to starting position. That's one rep.
10 per side
2. Walk the Plank
Start in forearm plank position with shoulders directly over elbows and torso parallel to the ground. From here, push through right arm, then left, to come to high plank position.
Reverse the move and lower right arm, then left, back to forearm plank position. That's one rep. (Lead with left arm for second set.)
3. Pendulum Leg Sweep
Start in high plank position with arms slightly closer together.
Inhale, drawing navel to spine, externally rotate at right hip, and bring straight right leg out to the side in a sweeping motion. Return to plank position. That's one rep. Switch sides, swinging left leg out.
10 per side
4. Sit-Up to Spiral
Lie flat on your back, knees bent, and feet planted on floor. Extend right leg straight, keeping knees in line.
Peel upper body up and off the mat, as you simultaneously lift and twist, reaching left hand to the outside of right knee and right arm wide open to the other side. Follow the same path back down to the floor, keeping leg lifted.
5 per side
5. Side Plank Series
Begin in side plank position on right side, with palm of top arm behind your head; elbow open.
Dip right hip down to ground and quickly bring it back up to side plank position.
Rotate torso toward stabilizing base hand on the floor. Return to side plank position.
Crunch top leg up to meet outside elbow and return to side plank position. That's one rep.
8 per side
6. 45-Degree Crunch
Start lying down with your low back imprinted into the ground, straight legs extended up to 90 degrees.
Keeping low back firmly on ground, lower legs to 45 degrees and squeeze inner thighs together. Lift shoulder blades up off the ground, and reach hands to shins. Pulse.
7. Stability Ball Pike
Start in push-up position with hands directly below shoulders, tops of feet and shins resting on stability ball.
Using your core, lift hips up to the ceiling into a V position. Hold for one breath, and then slowly lower down to starting position.
8. Dancing Crab
From reverse tabletop position (hands and feet planted on ground with butt lifted into a bridge-like pose), reach left arm up and around to meet lifted straight right leg.
Return to starting position and quickly switch sides, reaching right hand to left leg.
9. Power Crunch
Start lying on your back with low back planted on floor, hands behind head and legs bent and lifted to tabletop position.
Next, lower right heel to tap the floor, return to tabletop, and then tap left heel to floor.
Next, with legs still in tabletop, perform reverse crunch by peeling butt off floor, lifting straight up. Return to tabletop.
Lastly, perform a basic crunch with legs remaining to tabletop. That's one rep. Repeat the four-move sequence.