We may be of the opinion that cycling is the single best sport out there, but sometimes widening our horizons can make us appreciate time in the saddle even more. While it remains true that the only way to get better at cycling is to ride more, cross training can help you get there. It can help fill in the gaps by building bone density and strengthening muscle groups that may be underused on the bike.
Whether your taking a break due to an injury or just trying to work some variety into your training plan, here are some of the best cross training sports to improve your cycling.
Hiking is a great way to enjoy your surroundings at a relaxed pace. While you may be chasing segments on your bike, hiking makes you stop and take in the view. This can have a great stress-relieving impact on the brain.
Why it’s great for cyclists: Taking a stroll in the woods, especially if you tackle a mountain, is a great workout for your glutes, quads, hamstrings, core and hips. Those muscles sound familiar? They are also your mission-critical muscles used cycling, so hiking is a great way to build strength and endurance. It also helps build bone density as a weight bearing activity, but without the high impact of running.
Who doesn’t want to go hit up the beach in the summertime? Whether it be in your nearest body of water or the local pool, swimming is one of the best ways to exercise while injured. It is also one of the more efficient strength and cardio workouts.
Why it’s great for cyclists: A weak core can lead to a whole lot of issues for cyclists, largely sharing up as lower back pain. As cycling naturally leads to underdeveloped core muscles, it is important to find another way to strengthen that area. If this is a challenge for you, swimming needs to be your new favourite thing. It is also a great way to recover after a hard ride.
Hitting the gym may not be everyone’s particular cup of tea, but even doing some strength exercises at home can be a great way to balance muscles. When done right, strength training can make you feel stronger, faster, and fitter both on and off the bike.
Why it’s great for cyclists: Cycling is a low impact activity, which means it’s great for your joints, but not so great for supporting your bone density. Strength training can help fill the gaps and build stronger bones and complementary muscles to have you feeling stronger than ever on your bike.
Running is a great option if you’re travelling without your bike, or have limited time for a workout. It is effective in maintaining the condition of your cardiovascular system and gives you some variety in your training.
Why it’s great for cyclists: Running strengthens your bone density in a way that cycling doesn’t, and will keep you top climbing shape when you can’t put the time in on your bike.
There are a lot of misconceptions around yoga, and you may scoff at the idea of it improving how you feel on your bike. However, more and more pros are using yoga as their secret weapon to get faster and prevent injury.
Why it’s great for cyclists: Yoga helps strengthen your core, which in turn can prevent lower back pain. It maintains a healthy range of motion in your muscles and joints, and will improve your flexibility and posture over time. Regular stretching and yoga will reduce your risk of suffering from the typical overuse injuries that plague cyclists. These include IT band syndrome, tight hamstrings, back pain, and knee problems.