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Yesterday’s weight training workout; Lower back pain? Try direct ab work.

Friday, September 21, 2012 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Instead of riding I decided to get a weight training workout in yesterday. Lately I’ve been doing very high intensity weight training workouts: moderate weights, medium to high reps (12-20 reps per set), short rest intervals (45-60 seconds between sets) and intensity techniques such as supersets, drop sets, giant sets and “down the rack” sets.

I was in the mood to switch things up a bit for yesterday’s workout, so I went with very heavy weights and low reps (4-6 reps per set), 2 minutes rest between sets and 3 minutes rest between exercises. All exercises were big compound lifts.

I normally don’t experience serious DOMS when I do heavy, low volume workouts, and that was part of the reason I decided to do that workout yesterday. I’m going to be riding a lot of technical trail at Santos on Saturday, and I don’t want my upper body sore and fatigued.

A lot of people think mountain biking is a pure leg workout, but nothing could be further from the truth! Mountain biking takes considerable upper body strength and core strength–especially on long, technical rides.

I remember after one 30+ mile ride last year my abs were sore for days! It was after that ride that I decided to start doing direct ab work again (it’d been years since I’d done direct ab exercises). Of course my abs get hit when I do compound lifts like deadlifts and barbell rows, but I realized after that ride working them directly would benefit my riding.

Ab rollouts make traditional crunches feel like angel kisses.

Ab rollouts make traditional crunches feel like angel kisses.

When I resumed direct ab work, I started off by doing the usual ab exercises (crunches, hanging leg raises, reverse crunches, etc.). At some point during my 2012 cut I picked an inexpensive, but extremely effective, Ab Wheel. When I added the Ab Wheel to my Favorite Things list, my one sentence summary was simply this: “Ab rollouts make traditional crunches feel like angel kisses.” The Ab Wheel works the entire abdominal wall, and it’s very safe when proper form is used. I definitely recommend this item to anyone who wants to strengthen their abs.

Another cool benefit to direct ab work is that it has helped eliminate my lower back issues.

As long-time readers of this blog know, I’ve had a problems with lower back pain–especially on very long rides. The lower back pain I’ve wrestled with for many years is a dull, constant ache. This pain didn’t prevent me from doing the things I love, but it certainly reduced my enjoyment of those activities.

Moving from a hardtail to a full suspension bike was a big help, but even that didn’t completely eliminate my back pain. You know what did? Direct ab work. Earlier this month I did the longest mountain bike ride I’ve ever done: the 42 mile IMBA “Epic” at Santos. I didn’t realize it at the time, but now that I think about it I didn’t experience even the slightest hint of lower back pain.

I’ve got a busy Friday ahead, and I’ve also got to break away for a company meeting that may last a few hours. I’d love to hit the trails, but I simply don’t have time. I’m going to get a 14 mile ride in on the trainer. I’ll be getting a real bike workout in tomorrow!

John Stone Fitness Comments

2 Responses to “Yesterday’s weight training workout; Lower back pain? Try direct ab work.”
  1. I was also getting back pain after long rides on my stationary bike and it put a damper on my cardiovascular health. Focusing on using my core during back and leg workouts combined with direct ab work fixed the issue. I purchased an ab wheel and really like it but I feel like I could use it more effectively. Have you thought of posting an instructional video for us ab wheel newbies or is there a training video you could recommend?

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