BY LAURENCE DAIGLE - JOLIERIDE AMBASSADOR
Want to increase your road distances next year? Wish to reach that top of the hill without being out of breath? Reduce pain after a long bike ride? Be more agile on a mountain bike? In short, improve your overall cycling fitness? Apart from the experience you gain by cycling alone, there is one key component at play that will help you reach these goals: your physical condition. The good news is that you don’t have to wait until next season to do so, and today’s guide will show you the way!
By starting with the cardiovascular component, the goal here is to increase the ability of your heart pumping blood and transporting oxygen to the required muscles in use during your training. This will help improve your endurance and you getting better results without additional effort from your body. To achieve better cycling fitness, there’s no need to splurge on a bike trainer or get a gym membership subscription. Any cardio exercises will do, however the more specific the latter may be, the more it can be applied to cycling. It can go from running, hiking, brisk walking, swimming, cycling on a training base, spinning, elliptical, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, you name it ! Simply choose an activity that fits your lifestyle and motivates you, this is where I would start.
Then, to improve your cardio, hence your cycling fitness, we need to look into the intensity of your trainings: by going faster and by increasing the resistance, the slope or the duration. In order to reach that goal, you will have to push yourself; mind and body. Personally, the method of my choosing is to use intervals: let’s say we increase the intensity for 60 seconds, I would rest for about 1 to 2 minutes, then I’d start again with the intensity. Of course you can play with these intervals, however keep in mind that the shorter your intervals are, it will require your body a near all-out effort and will result in more recovery time.
In order to reach better cycling fitness, you will have to push yourself; mind and body.
Muscular Endurance and Strength
Finally, your muscular endurance and strength will help you save your energy during your workouts and bike rides since your body will be able to support the required effort with more ease. Another amazing advantage? Less risks of injuries! When in comes to cycling, I would strongly suggest to focus on your whole body for strength training. There is a misconception that cycling only requires strong thighs and calves, but there is so much more into it such as your torso, back, shoulders, arms, wrists and even your neck will be challenged. Hence a good full body training will prove beneficial for those long bike rides and help support a prolonged posture without too much discomfort.
“Well, it all sounds great and all, but I have no clue on how to implement all of these into my workouts!”
This is where my most important piece of advice comes in: if you don't know where to start or want to ensure sure you're optimizing your training, seek the advice of a qualified professional in physical activity; a kinesiologist would come to mind. The latter are professionally trained to help you reach your goals by setting a tailored game plan to your individual lifestyle by also taking in consideration your health history, such as injuries among other health factors.
On that note, enjoy your training!
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