Cycling for Fitness
Biking for fitness is a slightly different animal than just hopping on your bike and pedaling down to the store. It’s a great way to get in shape, but a complaint I often hear from people is that they bike a lot, but don’t seem any fitter or leaner.
You need to diligently monitor the level of intensity you’re working at when biking – it’s harder to do than with certain activities, like running. And, like any other activity, there is a fine line between under and over training. One or two to strenuous outings per week, coupled with three to four moderate workouts, are plenty.
Think about what you want to accomplish – is it riding a century (100 miles)? Being able to ride up hills without walking? Ride your bike without neck pain? Goals are as pertinent here as with any other activity, yet people often take more of a casual approach to how they train on their bike than many other activities.
Things to consider:
How does your bike fit you? This falls into two categories – 1) does the bike you have fit the needs of what you want to do? If you want to be a fast road rider and have a mountain bike with knobby tires, you may have the wrong bike. 2) does your bike fit your body? There is an exact science these days as to how to fit a bike to a body, so if you don’t know, it may be well worth taking it to a bike shop and having this looked at. Having a proper fitting bike isn’t just a matter of comfort and efficiency, it is also crucial in injury prevention – a bad fitting bike can cause your body all sorts of woes.
What are your weak links? Do you have a bad knee, or suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome? Doing exercises to shore up whatever areas need help is a good idea – the repetitive and constant nature of cycling can easily exacerbate areas that are weak.
Cycling biomechanics – Learn correct posture and pedaling technique. This relates to injury prevention and also efficiency.
Enjoyment – The feeling of whizzing down the road with the wind whipping past you is one of the reasons people bike in the first place. Take time to enjoy your rides, even while training!