Go for long rides
The foundation of all your cycling training should be your long ride. Ideally, do a long ride weekly or fortnightly. The long ride will build your endurance and also make you more efficient at utilising fuel. ‘Long’ means anything longer than your typical daily ride — so anything from one hour upwards is recommended, depending on your fitness and goals. A long ride is also a great opportunity to explore new areas and visit new destinations.
Try biking intervals
To balance out your long ride, try experimenting with some faster-paced riding. Sessions can be infinitely varied, but basically you are looking to ride faster for a short period, for example 10 minutes, followed by a recovery period and then a couple of repeats of the faster effort. Always include a good warm-up and cool-down before and after your session.
Build up cycle strength
Specific strength training will enhance your cycling, particularly for the legs, back and arms. The following exercises are key ones to focus upon but should always be included as part of a fully balanced program:
Leg exercises for cycling
Gymnasium exercises such as leg presses and weighted squats, or lunges and bodyweight squats, are ideal for building leg strength.
Arm exercises for cycling
Bicep curls and tricep presses will strengthen your arms and keep them balanced.
Back exercises for cycling
Dumbbell rows and lat pull-downs will focus on upper to mid back strength, while back extensions will train the lower back.
Get flexible on your bike
A common problem that cyclists encounter is poor chest flexibility. The rounded shoulder position that you use on the bike can lead to overstretched upper back muscles and a tight chest, so try to spend a few minutes stretching after each ride. Include the chest every time, and ideally you should stretch your legs as well.
Other cycling options
Sometimes the weather is poor, or it’s dark, or perhaps you just don’t fancy an outdoor bike session. However, there is no need to let your training slip because there are several alternatives available:
Never as good as the real thing — but as a substitute, stationary gym bikes can still give you a good workout. Most have a variety of programmes to simulate hill climbing or interval training and are a good alternative if you can’t get out on the road.
An ingenious device that attaches to the back wheel of your own bike and enables you to train at home. Your bike is supported in a stand and the trainer has a variable resistance.
Also for home use, rollers don’t support you so there is the additional challenge of balancing during your training session — just as you would outdoors.
A dynamic, group-based stationary bike spinning workout that is usually challenging but enjoyable and provides excellent training. One 60 minute session each week will definitely improve your cycling fitness.
Fit to cycle?
The better prepared and fitter you are, the more you will get out of your cycling. By starting out with a correctly set up bike, a few items of kit, a fuelled stomach and full fluid bottle, your training will be more enjoyable. There’s nothing worse than a long ride when you’re on an uncomfortable bike, when you’re hungry or when you’re wearing unsuitable clothing! Simply follow the tips above and you’re guaranteed to get more out of your cycling — so you can whiz past the stationary motorists even faster!