Tested: Graeme Street’s Cyclo-Core Program

My friend Maureen said it best, “You think you’re in shape, then you do this workout…”

I had been reading Graeme Street’s emails for quite a while, but I kept delaying my purchase of his program. I wanted it, but I wanted some new bike parts even more! Looking back, I think I would have been better off buying the Cyclo-Core program!

levi with cyclocore

Before I tell you all about this conditioning program, let me give you a quick intro about myself. My name is Levi Bloom, I’m currently 20 years old, and I started bike racing in 2002. I usually compete in either the Expert or the Elite/Pro class in mountain bike races, and I completed the 2004 Boston Marathon, so I considered myself to be in pretty good shape.

Then I did this workout…

The first time I tried it, it was a disaster! I don’t think I completed the full set of reps for any of the exercises. Some of them even made me collapse to the floor! It was intense, to say the least. But that’s the point! You go hard for 30 minutes straight, get extremely sweaty and worn-out, and then fall over – but you’re left with plenty of time to do other stuff!

It’s the off-season, you don’t need to be riding for hours a day. And if you’re riding an indoor trainer, well, you understand.

Don’t get me wrong, the work-out won’t kill you! You can cut out some of the reps or add more as you get stronger. It’s easy to adapt to your fitness level and extremely easy to get started.

The best part… You don’t have to worry about severe injury! You won’t be lifting heavy weights or putting undue stress on your body. You’re looking for functional strength, not huge muscles that are only good for the weight room.

I’ve seen some of the exercises before, but not put together in a workout like this. If you’ve been doing a lot of core exercises, specifically body-weight exercises, you’ve probably seen some of these before. Heck, I was doing some of this stuff during high school football!

But the thing is – I haven’t really done it since! There’s a big difference between knowing the exercises and doing some occasionally and having an intense workout program that you can follow along at home in your living room. None of my workouts ever put me in as much pain as Cyclo-Core.

Although I think of myself as a darn good athlete, some of these exercises really made me struggle. But that’s not to say that you have to be an elite athlete to attempt Cyclo-Core. It’s up to you how hard you push yourself, how many reps you do, how many circuits you attempt, etc.

You’ll have the choice of either doing body weight circuits or functional resistance circuits. The body weight exercises are very intense, and even though the pace is fast, it seems to go on forever! (Look into the Cyclo-Zen program if you need to increase your mental toughness.)

The resistance workouts will require an inflatable ball and a couple small (10-20 lb) dumbbells. No big deal, these are great to have, and you can find them at Wal-Mart. I’d also recommend using a yoga mat for all the exercises, especially if you’re on a concrete floor.

Where the body weight exercises are very hard physically and mentally, the resistance exercises just take some time to figure out (although some of them are very hard, too.) Most of these I have never seen nor even heard of. These really took some getting used to! I had to watch Graeme for a while before I figured out the movements. Some of them were still nearly impossible – this DVD will keep me busy for a while!

All in all, this is good stuff. I’m kicking myself for not doing it last year! (Don’t make the same mistake!) One complaint though is the lack of demonstration of the exercises. It’s just a minor set-back though. What I recommend is going through the DVD once to watch for a while before trying to get the technique down. You won’t have time to do this if you’re actually trying to work out.

I was actually doing a quick recovery ride on my rollers the first time I watched the DVD. I just wanted to get a feel for what I would be doing, which was a big help.

Speaking of help, this has definitely helped my back. About a year ago I had a couple wrecks on my BMX bike that injured my back and right shoulder. It took a while to get comfortable riding and even longer before I could do any sort of core conditioning.

Because of that setback, I was having back problems during all my mountain bike races. My back would just give out and I could barely maintain my posture, let alone ride fast and in control. It’s hard to believe (even for me), but that back pain seemed to disappear after just a few Cyclo-Core workouts. (I also thought my abs looked a little more defined, but that might be my imagination ;)

Be careful, though. One lesson I learned the hard way: don’t start out too fast. Even though you?re only using your body weight and only going for 30 minutes, this takes its toll…

(Click here to see a graph of my friend’s heart rate as he did Cyclo-Core.)

Although the season is coming to an end, I still had some mountain bike races to do during my Cyclo-Core reviewing. I did the conditioning workout a couple times in the week leading up to a Sunday race. I felt fine until the start of the race – then instant pain! Yeah, that’s how it usually is, but this was a bit different. I realized that my body was totally sapped of energy before the race even started! It was a tiresome day, but I took it real easy for the next week, and I was back to normal after that. (And ready to get back to Cyclo-Core.)

My final verdict is…

So that’s what I think of Cyclo-Core. It’s a great workout. The only thing I would change, is that I would have bought it much sooner! There’s just something about it… it works!

Official website: www.Cyclo-Core.com

P.S. By the way, I’m the president of the Babson College Cycling Club, and I had some of the team get together to try out Cyclo-Core. We did a short video (a comedy!) documenting our workouts. Check it out!

Product Review Details
Company: Cyclo-Core.
Obtained Product: Free sample from company.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No.

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3 Comments so far

  1. Buck on December 19th, 2005

    I did not fully understand the word “sore” until I began Cyclo-Core!

  2. multisportman on February 25th, 2008

    no doubt, it’s tough. but effective? yes!

  3. Jeff on June 4th, 2010

    You summed it up very nicely. I’ve been using Cyclo-Core and Zen since ’05. Last year I took it to a new level and my fitness was great once Spring rolled around. I’m always trying to get my buddies to try it but most of them are too “old school” in their thinking and refuse to try different training methods. Even when I’m constantly dropping them on hills or in the trails they still ask me how I got in shape…. they just don’t get it!

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