By Martin Sigrist
If you have ever had back pain, you have probably already heard about Stuart McGill. If you never want to suffer back pain, then you should hear about Stuart McGill. And if you just want to ride a bike for hours combining comfort and power, Stuart McGill can help you too.
Stuart McGill is one of the world’s leading experts on the causes of and solutions for back pain.
An essential aspect of his teaching is the need for core “stability”. This is not building a six-pack. It is the capacity to brace the core as nature intended so that it can absorb load evenly. This is one of the best ways to prevent back pain developing. As a handy byproduct, it is also one of the easier ways to become a better cyclist.
Having a stable core means more power, since the energy generated by the legs is transferred efficiently to the pedals rather than being wasted in moving the upper body around. Having a stable core means being faster since it becomes easier to hold an aerodynamic position for long periods at a time. Having a stable core makes rides more comfortable as you will be firmly planted in the saddle (reducing risk of irritation/pain) and your upper body will be both relaxed and strong for hours on end if needed.
The Squat University video below teaches the “McGill Big 3.” These are his three essential exercises that, if done regularly, will help ensure you have a stable core. As with other Squat University material the presentation is top quality, providing important cues and options to make the exercises more challenging or easier.
These exercises also complement the single leg exercises that I mentioned in a previous article. We humans are like skyscrapers, requiring a firm foundation on which a strong, stable structure can be built. However unlike concrete and steel our raw materials, bone, muscle and sinew are constantly being renewed and remade. A few minutes every now and them will greatly help with this process, helping us stand tall for many decades.
Now among the world’s fittest sexagenarians Martin Sigrist started riding on doctor’s orders in 2005 and had to push his bike up his first hill. Next year he soloed the Tour de France. He has since experienced every form of road cycling from criterium to ultra endurance. His ongoing mission is to use the latest in science and technology to fight a, so far successful, battle against Father Time.