You already know what this book is about from the title. Should you buy it? Yes, but only if you intend to use it. This is a book of practical ‘how to’, filled with exercises and insightful anecdotes.
If you watched the Tour of Utah last year, you will know who Tom Danielson is. If you didn’t, he’s the Garmin-Sharp rider who was the overall winner. That right there is some serious cred. Who is Allison Westfahl? She is his secret weapon: A Boulder, Colorado personal trainer who has worked with Tom for the past 6 years and rejuvenated his recovery and riding abilities after major injuries.
Watching Stage 6 of the Tour of Utah last year, I was amazed by the climbing prowess demonstrated by Tom from Midway up to Empire Pass. He hammered away out of the saddle for much of this sustained and steep climb, and kept doing so even when the grade eased approaching the pass. That sort of effort takes more than bike racing fitness, it takes serious core strength.
If your idea of cross training is lifting your bike on and off your car rack, then this book is worth your attention. Many cyclists’ main form of activity is cycling, which is not intrinsically a natural activity and can lead to discomfort and injury. Part 1 takes a closer look at what constitute your core muscles. It is a lot more than your abs! In fact, it’s most of the musculature between your neck and your knees! There is a good chance you are using those muscles to ride a bike, and could be using them better. Muscle imbalances contribute to aches, pains, injuries and inefficiency in delivering power to the pedals, and Part 1 explains how and why, giving compelling reasons to take action in Part 2.
Part 2 takes you through three levels of time efficient workouts designed specifically for cyclists. This is the real value in the book. The customizing for your favorite activity has already been tried, tested and proven. Furthermore, these workouts are not relegated to offseason cross training, but are in season, any season conditioning workouts. Illustrations, explanations, timing, sets and reps are all laid out in an easy to read and do manner. Minimal equipment is needed, reducing the barrier to get started. The emphasis is on bodyweight exercises that focus on postural correction and strength through stability and mobility.
If you want to ride like a pro, it helps to do as they do. For Tom, this is how he rides powerfully and pain-free. But importantly, this book is not just for aspiring pros. It is for any cyclist at any level who would like their body to function better, both on and off the bike.
Tom Danielson’s Core Advantage: Core Strength for Cycling’s Winning Edge
By Tom Danielson and Allison Westfahl. Published 2013 by Velopress.
John Higgins, cycling enthusiast, competitor and bike fitter. Contact him at www.bikefitr.com