One of the questions that I get asked the most is: ‘How can I get more out of my rides?’
Improvement is the metric of success in the world of cycling.
Every athlete wants to improve their performance. Weight lifters are always finding ways to lift those extra few pounds, runners are forever seeking to shave a few seconds of the clock and even footballers seek week-on-week improvement with their skills. Ironically enough, it’s often the case that in order to improve at your chosen sport it’s better to train in another discipline.
Cycling is one of those sports that many other athletes choose as their auxiliary exercise. It’s affordable, (relatively) safe and is a great way of improving cardiovascular fitness and toning muscle.
Still, should you wish to make some serious gains on your bike it might be better to take some time off the saddle and try out one of these alternative forms of exercise:
Jump in the Pool
Although cycling is fast becoming the go-to low-impact sport for the older generation, there is one aquatic past time that provides a fully body workout and truly stretches the body’s aerobic abilities. As long as you exercise good pool safety you’ll be at much less risk in the pool than on your bike, giving you a stress-free environment to push your cardio limits and improve your strength for your return to the road.
So much of endurance cycling depends on your strength, yet you’ll often find that you won’t make significant improvements in your training if you keep on tackling the same routes at the same speed. In order to prepare yourself for sudden inclines or shorter bursts of speed it can be beneficial to spend a few nights a month on a climbing wall. Climbing (or bouldering if you don’t fancy the ropes) tightens your core and activates dormant muscles all over your body which will make riding your bike that much easier.
You can find an elliptical trainer (or x-trainer) in pretty much every gym in the country. A cross-trainer allows you to get a robust cardiovascular workout whilst reducing impact to the absolute minimum, the best thing about these machines are the multiple resistances that you can set them to. Crank up the level on your machine and get your blood pumping for 45-minutes to really burn some calories and work on your core.
Finally, it might seem paradoxical to spend time working on your shoulders or back when you’re trying to improve your cycling, however rowing is the kind of activity that you’ll reap the benefits from in a matter of weeks, should you commit to a couple of sessions a week that is. You can pick up your own rowing machine for as little as £129, they don’t take up much space and once you get going you’ll be surprised how addictive it is!
At the end of the day if you want to get more out of your rides you should try to commit to one or two alternative exercise sessions a week. Take a break from the bike and you could be surprised by the long term improvements you make.