I do a lot of core and specific strength work in the off-season and I’ve really come to enjoy it. I’ve found it makes a big difference, especially for my upper body. Coming from cycling and running, I had the equivalent upper body physique of an 11-year old girl. It’s taken a few years to gain power and endurance — and it tends to fade very quickly — but I’ve made good progress. I do a full strength workout twice a week. When I can’t train with a group, I go to the Closet of Pain.
The Closet of Pain is my front hall closet where I store most of my core strength gear: medicine ball, physio ball, ankle weights, arm slings, etc.. A pull-up bar is installed in the door way with a couple height levels for pull-ups, leg raises (with the arm slings) and inverted rows. It’s cramped, poorly lit, hard to get to. But because it’s in my house and I have to walk by anytime I go in or out, it’s a persistent reminder and it’s easy to throw in some exercises after a run or ride.
One of my favorite core-strength workouts is the “Pull-up Ladder”. I start with 10 pull-ups, then every minute (or less) I drop a rep, until I’m down to one rep. This way, I can maximize the total number of pull-ups I do over a session. Sometimes, I’ll do an extra set of 10 reps at the end. As I get stronger, I add another rep or two to the starting set, or I’ll do them with 10 lbs of ankle weights.
The formula for calculating the total number of pull-ups = ((starting reps + ending reps)/2 )* the number starting reps.
Before doing the Ladder, I could manage at most 12 or 13 pull-ups. After a few weeks, I was in the low 20’s. I maxed out last year with 29 pull-ups in one continuous set.