Done through the questions I asked.
No, not done - you asked a bunch of questions asking for further details and data, you did not highlight a contradiction.
I went into this conversation in good faith, as I think its a fascinating topic, but I'm feeling something of an unpleasant undercurrent, more like attempts at bullying than learning and enquiry.
I'll give this a final shot though and see where we get to
1) How did you ascertain your core was unstable? Did you notice your spine flopping over when you walk? Could you walk up stairs? Where you leaning to one side, forwards, backwards? Hips rocking? Was it an assessment by a physio? Video movement analysis? Muscle biopsies?
2) So you were using your abs to hold you steady.... Once again, how did you ascertain this? And when in a forward facing position (like on a bike) the "abz" are there to cause flexion (bend forward) in the the spine. I would hazard a guess that it wasn't your abs.
3) What "core" work did you actually do?
4) After doing "core work" your muscles were more relaxed, so relaxing made you more stable? Or was it the "core strength". And once again, how was this ascertained?
1) Assessment by two physio's, followed by self assessment (check out the elphinston book again - it has a step by step assessment program for practitioners which is possible to do yourself). A couple of huge pointers were an inability to stand on one leg for more than a few seconds without wobbling and touching down - stability and balance were very poor, and almost no ability to activate my glutes, especially on the right side when attempting exercises like the clam. The other thing that's more anecdotal was that I was always a bit crap out the saddle - my preference was to sit and spin, even at higher power, say 500w or so, and I tended to get piriformas tightness quite easliy. On the other hand my abs were strong (ex-swimmer) and for the record my ftp was 4.4 w/kg. - im no pro, but neither am I a beginner.
2) Seeing a picture of myself during a race when on the power made me evaluate my technique - I just looked hugley tense (note I've had a couple of bike fits from well respected fitters so my "static'ish" position was and is fine). It was easy to ascertain - just becoming aware of myself and what I was doing - positioning, tenseness, force, etc. Basically when I was on the power hard, in order to get the stability to really go at it I would pull hard back on the drops or hoods and tense up the front of my upper body to form a rigid platform. Your abs dont *just* cause flexion, they can clearly be held rigid without your body bending! But my lats stuck out like a couple of fins down my back too and my shoulders and chest were very very tight
I'm a spinner rather than a masher too, god knows what I would have been like if I was Jan Ulrich's crap younger brother.
3) See the Elphinston book. Mainly work around activating the glutes - but the key is that it was not "strengthening", I didnt need strong muscles for a short period, but stability and activation - I need low level stability for long periods. Exercises include the greyhound, bridges, hip pops and swivels, foot raises on the swiss ball (sit on the ball, raise one foot while keeping your body static - how hard can it be...?), supported squats and balance work. Nothing that gives a feeling of muscle fatigue as like lifting weights.
4) Not entirely sure as to what you're asking here. But the result is that I have a great deal more stability around the glutes and core - to the extent I can feel a difference walking up stairs which is a bit odd (core & glutes supporting my body rather than quads firing me up the steps) as well as on the bike. My girlfriend reckons that I stand and walk differently that previously (and in a good way!). My *theory*, is that the previous lack of stability was being compensated by rigid abdomen, chest and back muscles, but this makes breathing very difficult (you can test this at your desk - tense your upper body and see how deep you can breathe). By increasing my stability through the core I'm much less dependant on tensing my upper body (though I fall back into the habit quickly enough sadly); this lets me breath freely and fully through a 1 minute effort and hence results in a higher power average.
A bit more background - my pb for 1 min was 526w (at 72kg) achieved in a race. A month later was basically off the bike for 3 months due to various reasons. When I started back I managed a depressing 490w as my marker. I embarked on a zone 2 / LSD program as I a) had the time, b) wanted to ease back safely and c) had never really done base/endurance properly - I'm all intervals, threshold work, etc, etc (you guys really should love me). Three months in (I think I said two somewhere cant see where though - but it was 3 months of LSD) I did a power test as the marker to move to sweet spot efforts in prep for the winter race series, and to my surprise I knocked out 640w as a pb and found that I could do 500w repeatable intervals.
I have a harder time believing that zone 2 work increased my 1 min power than vastly improved breathing through enhanced stability. The other point worth noting is that my 1 min power wasnt crap (at least for me) to begin - 526w put me in the middle of cat 2 in the Coggan chart. I very much doubt any coach would have had me doing core stability and zone 2 work if I'd gone asking for a 110w increase in my 1 minute power
So - like I said, I would never ever infer a general rule from this little vignette, but in the complex world of training someone exists that due to their peculiar circumstances at the time saw a lumpy measurable increase in 1 minute power while doing core stability and zone 2 work. I can report less stress and tenseness during short intervals. The moral of the story is that we're dealing with humans whom are complex and a little bit odd. Your hardline position that mandates that general rules are applicable to all at all times and there can be no variances from the norm (and therefore anyone that reports an different experience is either ignorant, deluded or a liar) is, as well as personally not being very pleasant, not a true reflection of reality