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 đŸ˜‰

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.)

Cyclo-Core Offseason Conditioning Program – The Long Term Test Results

cyclo-core dvd

Time sure flies. My Cyclo-Core review was first published back in 2005, a little over three years ago!

I’ve been using the Cyclo-Core workouts almost year-round ever since. Funny thing is, it’s still hard! It always gives me a good workout, no matter the circumstances.

At certain times (after lots of training) I’ve done the workouts back-to-back, but then I always end up taking time off, either because I have to rest an injury, or because I’m riding so much that I can only handle a teensy bit of off-bike training. Either way, successfully completing the Core workouts is challenging, even after using the program for years!

I’ve also been using Cyclo-Zen and Cyclo-Speed, and joined in on Cyclo-Club which has even more workout videos. So it’s nearly impossible to get bored with these workouts if you rotate through all of them. (Even if you stick with Cyclo-Core, you can switch up the order of the routines and mix and match, effectively giving you new workouts.)

Enough of that though. You already know how much I love the program. So now I’m just going to list all the pros and cons I can think of:

Cyclo-Core Pros

Here are the reasons I recommend Cyclo-Core…

1. A Variety of Workouts

On the DVD, there is a 30 minute bodyweight workout, composed of 3 circuits. Then there is a 30 minute resistance workout, also composed of 3 circuits. Then there is a bonus 15 minute workout that focuses directly on your abs. Finally, there is a 10 minute cool down and stretching program.

You can use these workouts on different days, do the circuits in different orders, or mix and match.

2. You Can Workout Anywhere

The 30 minute bodyweight workout requires nothing more than a little floor space. It could be done in your bedroom, living room, dorm room, small apartment, hotel room, etc.

The other routines require an exercise ball, but still, that doesn’t take up much space.

3. Quick and Effective

A 30 minute Cyclo-Core workout is intense and hits your entire body. There is no wasted time – surely you can fit that into a busy schedule.

4. It’s Like Having a Personal Trainer

Being on DVD, it’s kind of like having Graeme Street right there as your own personal trainer. You just follow along and get a good workout.

He even gets you motivated to move. (Unlike workout plans that are just a piece of paper with a workout set written out.)

5. No Costly Gym Membership Required

A great value here. Gym memberships are usually $30-75 per month. A personal trainer guiding you is about $150 per hour. In this case, you buy the DVD, and you’re set.

6. No Costly Equipment Setups

Just get a yoga mat, exercise ball, and some light dumbbells.

7. Easy to Learn

Cyclo-Core is composed of basic movements, most of which are easy to learn. Just analyze Graeme’s movements in the DVD a few times and you’ll be well on your way.

8. Safer Than Weight Lifting

While weight lifting can be done safely, it requires a lot of practice and proper coaching to achieve the right form. Without proper form, you’ll suffer an injury in no time.

And once you have good form, you still need a training partner there with you, since there’s still that possibility of dropping a weight on yourself or getting stuck in the wrong position. And you could always tear a muscle – even pro lifters get injured like that.

Cyclo-Core is mainly just you moving your body around on the floor. It’s much safer. (No sense in getting injured weight lifting and consequently missing important bike races.)

9. Works Important Core Muscles

Core muscles are very important to cycling, but they don’t get strengthened by cycling. So you need some sort of additional workout like Cyclo-Core to get strong.

Cyclo-Core Cons

But Cyclo-Core is not perfect…

1. Counting The Reps Is Not Exact

After doing the workouts many times, I realized Graeme’s counting is a bit off. If you count your own reps instead of following along, you will probably finish sooner.

And sometimes Graeme says “we’re about halfway through” but you’re only maybe a quarter of the way through.

2. Lack of Clear Instructions

It took me a while to notice these, but there are a few little quirks in the workout. For example, during the “Power T stand,” Graeme says “switch” when you should switch from the right to left side. But on the final rep, you need to switch sides at “Stay with me here.” (And you don’t notice this if you don’t have your eyes on the screen.)

Also, when stretching at the end, you typically reach out to your left leg with your right hand so that you stretch your back. In one move, Graeme says “stretch with your left hand” for both the left and right leg reaches.

(Those little things never proved detrimental to my workout, but I thought I’d point them out because there’s really nothing else to put in the “Cons” section.)

My final verdict is…

So that’s what I think of Cyclo-Core. It’s a great workout. I conclude that the Cyclo-Core DVD is awesome. At first, $60 for a DVD seemed kind of expensive, but I have gotten so much value from it, that $60 seems cheap now!

However, you might want to skip the DVDs and go for the downloads/streaming available in Cyclo-Club. Then you can get Cyclo-Core as well as a new series known as Cyclo-Impossible. Either way, I do suggest getting your hands on a copy of Cyclo-Core.

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
Product: Cyclo-Core Off-season Conditioning Program
Reviewed by: Coach Levi
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Date of original review: 2005-11-20
Date last updated: 2013-02-10
Obtained Product: Free sample from company.
CoachLevi.com Advertiser: No

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Levi Bloom is an experienced endurance athlete who has been training and competing for over 17 years. A former Cat 1 road and mountain bike racer (professional class on the regional circuit), he is now a cycling coach (USA Cycling Level 3 Certified) and sports nutrition coach (Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified).

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

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

  3. 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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