Cycling can be a daunting thing to get into at an entry level. How far should I go? Where should I go? How do I do it? I’m sure there will be plenty of questions. However, the most important thing to prepare for cycling on a regular basis is your physicality - if you don’t get your body ready to take on a full-on workout like cycling, then you’re risking injury or burnout.
The key component to cycling are your legs, which you use to pedal yourself forward… obviously! However, hopping onto a bike blindly and expecting to be able to travel long distances at a time will lead to a harsh reality in that your legs will need to be trained in order to achieve high standard levels of cycling! You can build your leg muscles up on the job itself and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s much better to work on your legs separately before you start to cycle regularly to help strengthen those muscles before you set off.
Leg workouts aren’t just for beginners either - working on your leg strength in your spare time can help keep you up to shape ready for your cycling journeys. Squats, lunges, kicks can all help build up leg muscle and ensure your body is ready for whatever you set out to achieve on your bike.
This one is mainly for before heading out on your bike, but it is still vitally important and that’s to warm up. Stretching and doing light cardio exercises go a long way towards preparing your body for the high level of exercise you’re about to put it under. There’s nothing worse than pulling a muscle or feeling a twinge in your leg when you’re in the middle nowhere on your bike! Warming up prior to heading out will minimise the chances of getting yourself in that situation and you’ll soon realise that even just 10 minutes of light work will go a long way.
You should always be warming up before doing any form of physical activity, however it is especially important with an exercise such as cycling that uses the full body. Focus on your leg and abdominals when stretching before heading out as these are the muscles that will directly feel the burn during your cycling, so make sure they’re ready to be tested!
To see the maximum benefits that cycling brings you, you should really be giving time and focus to your diet. Look into high fibre and slow releasing carbohydrates that contain a long lasting energy release that can be stored for when you need it on your journey. Or if you’re looking for a quick nibble before heading out, try foods like nuts that are packed full of all sorts of nutrients such as omega-3 fats to help with your energy levels and aerobic performance.
To get the most out of cycling, you can’t be neglecting your body as the two go hand-in-hand. The better your diet, the better your cycling performance; the more you cycle, the better your diet needs to be in order to see the best results. Without the healthy diet, you might as well not bother exercising at all as a diet of sugar and fats will not only lead to weight increase and added calories, but will also affect your cycling performance and stamina. Replace the chocolate with a banana and maximise your cycling efficiency!
Cycle and rowing machines
One of the best ways to practice your techniques and tune your muscles is through specialist machines that can either be found in gyms or are even available for home use. These are a great simulation for cycling and rowing techniques that can help you focus on working on your breathing, rhythm and many other aspects that you might not think about when out cycling. Taking the time to work on your breathing for example, can help you the next time you head out on your bike where you can put it into practice and evaluate how your breathing has improved.
As well as this, a cycling machine can serve as a great substitute for normal cycling if it’s raining or for some reason you need to stay at home at all, meaning there’s no excuse for skipping a day on your cycling routine! Like I said, they can be found in gyms too so if you’re at the gym doing your workouts, why not give the exercise bike a go and practice for the next time you go out on your bike?
Sleep is the very best way to recharge your body for exercise. Getting into a healthy sleeping routine will make a world of difference in supplying your body with a natural boost of energy throughout the day, allowing for an overall better cycling experience. No one wants to go out cycling after a couple of hours of sleep the night before - it’s just not worth it! Instead get yourself 7/8 hours of sleep every night and reap the benefits of being fully refreshed every time you head out on your bike.
Sleep also works as a great healer too with muscle repair and injury healing coming a lot more effectively overnight with a good amount of sleep on a consistent basis. Sleep has all the physical benefits. but also has several mental benefits too such as stress detoxing, increased awareness and perception, and improved mental health. Basically, sleep is great and will definitely help with your cycling so make sure you get enough every night!
To get the most out of your cycling you have to look after your body. Ensuring you have enough sleep, making sure you are eating healthily and focusing on your muscles away from the bike will all bring great benefits that will enhance your cycling performance and give you a much more enjoyable experience. Without taking care of your body and preparing it for the strain that cycling brings to it, you are effectively setting yourself up for injuries, fatigue and other undesirable side effects that high-octane exercise can bring.