Bicycling is a great activity with many benefits. A regular routine of cycling will help you increase your fitness level, decrease your stress level and maybe even help you avoid depression.
So if you’ve been bicycling for a while you might feel like you’ve reached a plateau. Your fitness level hasn’t gone down, but it hasn’t really improved noticeably in a while. Or maybe you’re brand new at it and just want to get better.
Regardless of your situation, consider these ways to be a better biker:
Lift some weights
Weight training two to three times a week will not only make you stronger, but it will increase your cycling balance and endurance. Bicycling focuses on the muscles of the lower extremities; upper body exercises can eliminate any imbalance in muscle strength. In addition, increasing muscle strength in the quads and calves through strength training can mean the difference between walking and riding up a steep hill.
Another benefit of weight training that gets frequently overlooked is that it helps develop increased bone density. Cycling is not a weight-bearing activity. This is good news for your joints, but not such good news for your bones, which benefit from such exercises.
Value your core
A strong core (abdominals, lower back, and hips) is the key to preserving a healthy back and is the foundation of strength for a strong rider. If your only strength work is one that focuses on your core muscles, this alone could improve your riding.
Pilates exercises, in particular, are an excellent way to develop a strong core.
What is Pilates?
Pilates (pronounced pi-LAH-teez) is a form of exercise, developed by in the early 1900s by German fitness enthusiast Joseph Pilates. Pilates develops strength and flexibility of the body by focusing on the core muscle groups — particularly the back, chest, abdomen, and buttocks — to create long, lean muscles and graceful and efficient motions.
Fuel your ride.
Food is fuel for your body. You need to provide your body with adequate fuel for your ride, even if your goal is weight loss. The best form of fuel will come from complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Plan to fuel up with a high carbohydrate snack about an hour before a ride. That’ll give you the energy to keep going strong, burning calories while providing your muscles with adequate fuel.
You’ll find too, that having these good kinds of food on hand and convenient for snacks and meals, that you’ll be more likely to avoid the types of foods that will really set you back a couple of steps.
Become a Better Biker – Without Getting On Your Bike.
The point of all this is that you can make big gains in your cycling in ways other than simply riding your bike more. By eating wisely, by working on some strength training and in developing your body’s core muscles in the abs, back and hips, you’ll actually be doing quite a bit to make your favorite exercise, riding, that much better for you.