I've always been a free weights kind of guy when it comes to strength training. I learned to lift in the weight room at the University of New Mexico from professional strength coaches. There has been a lot of information lately about the benefits of core strength. Until recently I sort of ignored it and just kept on doing my free weights.
Last fall I read an article in Bicycling Magazine about the benefits of core strenght training for cyclists. It specifically mentioned how this type of training could eliminate lower back pain and gave instruction along with drawings for how to do 8 very simple exercises. That grabbed my attention as I occaisionally suffered lower back pain on long rides and long climbs. Its funny, I could usually count on the lower back pain coming on somehwere between the 80-90 mile mark on a long training ride. It was like clockwork. It wasn't terrible, but it was uncomfortable and annoying.
I thought I'd give the core strength training a try. Of the 8 exercises, two require the use of an exercise ball and the other six are done on the floor. I got an exercise ball at Target for cheap and its still holding up perfectly well. I did these exercises 2-3 times a week all winter and am still doing them twice a week now. The difference it has made in my cycling has been incredible. I have no idea whatsoever if it has made me faster in any way or a stronger climber, but I can say with great relief that these exercises have completely eliminated my lower back pain. And hey, for that small vain streak in me, I'm a little more than a month away from turning 47 and my abs have never looked better. I'm still lifting the free weights, but I now always begin a strenght training day with the core exercises first.
Just passing this experience along in case core strengthening might be of some benifit to others........