Is unicycling good for core strength?

I often get the comment, “oh, you must have really good core strength” when people see me unicycling. I kind of answer yes but lately I got to thinking more about it. Truthfully, I don’t know if unicycling contributes to core strength. I have always included back and ad exercises in my weight training program and therefore have reasonable strength in those areas. So as for unicycling being a contributor to core strength, I really can’t tell as it isn’t something I really notice.

So what do you think? Does unicycling make a significant contribution to core strength?

i havent noticed anything in my core area, well somewhat on my back cause i had to get used to hopping with my torker dx, its a pretty heavy beast lol, but now i got used to that and dont feel any strain on my back area, and now the only muscle that i can feel getting worked are my legs

I wouldn’t say it helps with strangth a lot because it’s basically like walking, and that doesn’t do much for your muscles. It does, however, seem to do a lot in the way of endurance because of the non-stop pedalling involved.

leg muscles

I think learning to unicycle involves a lot of core strength. Once you’re good, riding normally doesn’t require much, but most skills and tricks do. Idling, for example, especially on a big wheel involves a lot of twisting. Muni is a lot of core strength as you correct balance all the time. I don’t do a lot of trials but I expect the hopping is a good core strength builder.

wadyamean by “core strength” ? building strength in your torso? or something else? (sorry not a native speaker…)

Core strength is the main benefit of Pilates training.
I hope that helps WobblinBear.

I can’t help but think that the constant micro-adjustments made by the torso of even the most experienced rider must help increase core-strength and core-muscle conditioning.

I don’t have facts to back this up and would love to see a biokineticist do a study to give us a scientific answer to this question.

Urgh? and what is “Pilates training” supposed to be? (ok ok I’ll google that!:slight_smile: )

Good idea.

Just kidding, I thought using the example of Pilates might make it easier to cross the language divide.
Basically, as I understand it, core strength refers to the strengh of the smaller muscles that hold the spine in alignment. The larger muscles build on the basis of these smaller groups and if trained to be too strong, can actually damage the ‘core’ muscles by putting too much strain on them.

I see.
intuitively (with no scientific basis) I would say that unicycling is very good for that. But I was wondering if things like hopping or just holding the handle were less beneficial on this behalf (because holding the handle is assymetrical, and hopping may induce sudden stresses).
any medical student willing to start a Ph.D on a subject like “benefits and drawbacks of unicycling”?

I would think trials uses alot of the core

Your core is your trunk or torso. Core muscles include abdominal, back, and pelvic muscles (Transverse Abdominis, External and Internal Obliques, Rectus Abdominis, Erector Spinae, and Iliopsoas). Weak or imbalanced muscles are the main culprits in back pain. (“Imbalanced” muscles result from working your abs without training your back muscles, or vice-versa. This is why resistance training always involves strengthening muscles in pairs…triceps AND biceps, etc.) A lot of folks will concentrate on abdominal workout routines but ignore the opposing back muscles, which actually results in more strain on the spine as the abs pull on it unopposed by those weaker back muscles.

Walking is actually a good, gentle, low-impact exercise for your core muscles, as long as you use “good form,” which really just means correct posture…not too hard for most of us to do. Postural muscles are primarily slow-twitch muscles (which are recruited when low levels of force are used), so you get more benefit than you might think with very little apparent effort. The whole point behind core exercises on those large Swiss balls is to force you to make constant tiny corrections to stay stabilized and balanced, which sounds a lot like what the successful unicyclist does.

Some of the unicycling videos I’ve seen here are anything BUT low-impact (!) but with its emphasis on good posture, balance, and (of course) the pedaling motion, I would bet unicycling involves all the core muscles, and helps to keep them conditioned.

Terry thanks for that detailed and well thought out reply. I see what you mean. And yes it would indeed be interesting if this was studied more scientifically but it seems to me that you have explained how unicycling does indeed contribute to core strength.

I find muni to be physically demanding and your coar strength seems to help aloooot. but if you want core strengh all you need is a workout ball and some time to learn how to stand on it

I dont no from experience but I reckon a 12 mile muni on a 16 " would be like runing the marathon

Here are some older discussions on the same subject:
Google search for Core Strength in RSU

I dont really have anything to contribute on a scientifically detailed front, but i do have some observations that may apply to the conversation.

My main physical activity is unicycling (what a surprise). I do also go to the gym sometimes but not enough to say im serious about it. When i do go to the gym, I can roll with the big dogs when it comes to leg, ab, and lower back excersizes. However, when it comes to arm and upper body stuff, i have to turn to embarrasingly small weights. Now i know there could be other variables involved, but im reading that as unicycling is pretty damn good for core and leg strength!

Another observation is that my abs are more defined on my left side and my left arm is stronger than my right. I hold my uni handle and seat for seat out with my left hand. Does anyone else get this? I realize that it is not so unheard of to have one arm or something stronger than the other side, BUT I am right handed and do everything with my right hand with the exception of unicycling. Therefore, i can only assume its unicycling thats doign it to my body.

I hope this applies to the thread in a constructive way. Im enjoying the thread!

I was badly out of shape when I started unicycling again. For more than the first year, my lower back and leg muscles felt sore nightly after riding. Luckily the soreness always felt like a reminder that really worked my muscles well. It took over a year for that nightly feeling to go away.

I am sure that those core muscles have improved. So much in fact that I look forward to a good snow storm. Shoveling used to exhaust me, now my entire back is so strong now it is not a problem at all. I stopped using the snow blower, and actually look forward to shoveling.

Right now I’m thinking that I’ve gotten slack and need to work harder to get that good old nightly soreness back.