Cycling has become one of the most popular sports amongst people who are looking to improve their fitness levels, and with good reason. It is a low impact activity that still allows the rider to burn fat and massively improve their cardio, with fewer risks of injury or fatigue when done properly.
Furthermore, the sport is accessible to anybody from the weekend warrior through to event cyclists, making it ideal for those who want to get fit. Here we take a look at a few important tips for people who want to use cycling for fitness.
Mix It Up
It may seem like riding at high intensity at all times is the best option if you want to improve your fitness quickly, but it is also a fast track to injuries and fatigue that could leave you off the bike for days, or even weeks.
The key to using cycling for fitness is to recognize that your body needs time to recover, especially soon after you have pushed it to its limits. Mix intense cycling with more relaxing recovery rides to ensure your body has the chance to get back to top condition while still remaining active.
Once your muscles are back in tip-top shape, you can push them again and you will soon find that everything from your power to your overall cardio starts to benefit. Couple those rides with some endurance rides, hill climbs and other workouts and the variance will keep your muscles guessing and allow you to stay strong regardless of the course you’re on.
Getting The Right Bike
If you don’t have the right bike for your body type then you are going to find that you tire much more easily and that you leave yourself at risk of experiencing muscle pains. This is because your body has to compensate for poor positioning by adding extra pressure onto whatever area is struggling.
As such, it is recommended that you have the right bike for your body type and workouts. A road bike is going to be useless on dirt trails, whereas mountain bikes are less efficient on smooth surfaces.
The right fit is vital too, so speak to a professional if you are unsure about where your saddle and handlebars need to be. Better positioning allows for superior technique, which also allows you to ride faster for longer.
Get The Gears Right
It can be surprising just how inefficient riding in the wrong gear can make you. Set it too low and you will find there is little resistance to your pedaling, so you end up riding at a far higher cadence than you should to achieve the same results you would in a higher gear.
Set it too high and you end up doing so much work that you put undue pressure on your knees, which can lead to the end of the workout before it ever really got going.
The key is to figure out what gear allows you to maintain a regular cadence at all points of the ride and stick to that one. You’ll need to lower it for hills and up it for flats, but as long as you remain consistent with your cadence you will find you’re more able to use cycling for fitness.
Even a little bit of cycling is better than no cycling at all, so if you aren’t able to get out for as long as you would like to that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything. After all, practically any physical activity is going to help your fitness, but with cycling you get a choice of intensities to work at so that there is always a cycling workout for your fitness level.