Cycling. What good is that going to do me? I mean, I’ve seen the hoards of middle aged men out on the road on a Sunday, squeezing their beer guts into clothing that is borderline obscene. It’s not exactly helping them is it. That’s not me. I workout. I’m in better shape than that lot already. No, I think I’ll stick to my routine. Whats that? The professionals are super fit? Yes, I know they are super fit…but so what? That’s their job and I don’t have the time or interest to put that effort in. And aren’t they all druggies anyway? Besides, I don’t want to look like some sort of human grasshopper, all spindly armed and massive legged. And if I want to travel 100 kilometres there are better ways to do it than pedalling.
Sound familiar? For many people the thought of cycling is likely to conjure up these sort of thoughts. And to an extent they are right. But this is a shame because it overlooks some of the massive benefits that cycling can bring you. And I’m talking about cycling as an addition to your existing workout routine, rather than a replacement. It’s probably fair to say that if a Sunday morning ride in lycra didn’t appeal before reading this, it probably won’t after reading it either. And whilst I would be delighted if this article led to someone getting into cycling, and finding a new hobby, I’m not trying to convert you to the dark side! I’d just like to share a few things that just might take your fitness up a level, regardless of where your fitness currently is.
Stamina, Strength And Aerobic Fitness
But before we look at how you can add cycling into your existing workout routine, it’s worth looking at why you should consider cycling, by pointing out some of the general health benefits that it can bring. Firstly, cycling increases stamina, strength and aerobic fitness. All good things that anyone would be happy to improve. Who doesn’t want to be stronger and fitter? Plus, it is considered a low impact exercise – that is to say that it causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise, so it’s safe to add in to whatever other exercise you are doing. And it’s good muscle workout – cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal.
There are other benefits too that make it ideal for adding into your existing workout routine. Cycling is easy. It doesn’t require high levels of physical skill. And most people know how to ride a bike. Once you learn, you don’t forget.
That’s all well and good, but how do you go about putting these benefits into your existing routine? Well, without getting into too much detail, because there is plenty of material out there already with specific workouts that will provide more information, it’s a pretty safe bet to say that riding a bike will do what you need. You can make your riding as intense as you want, and tailor it to get exactly the fitness improvement you want. And you can spend as much or as little time riding as you like.
Fitting Cycling In To Your Existing Routine
For example, if your normal focus is lifting, cycling is a great way of adding some cardio to your routine, without getting in the way of your gym sessions. Are you looking to improve your stamina, because you are already training for a specific event? Then you can add cycling there too. It is ideal for working at a lower intensity for longer periods, and will compliment your existing training nicely. Because it is low impact you can safely add a training ride into most endurance routines whether it be for running, rowing, trekking etc.
And the opposite is also true. If you want explosive power, then doing short sprints, or HIIT on a bike is a great way of doing this. There are other positives too. Cycling is perfect if you are recovering from injury or illness, as you can take it steady before building up to a demanding physical workout.
It’s also a fun way to get fitter – it can offer adventure and/or an adrenaline buzz. And just being outdoors, and away from the gym for a workout session can be a positive. It can keep things fresh, and can add some additional interest to your workout. Compared to other physical activities that keep you indoors or require special times or places, there are less constraints. Go where you want, as fast, or as steady as you want. You are free to explore, whilst getting fit. Ride on the road if you like. Or maybe playing about on some trails on a mountain bike appeals more. Whatever you like the sound of most, go for it.
Alternatively you may be able to commute by bike, getting a workout in for free when you would otherwise be sat in a car, or on the bus or train. You can get some exercise time in whilst riding with your kids on a family outing, or head out for some solitude if you need a break from them. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that cycling is flexible, and can give your workouts and your general fitness a real boost.
All this sounds good right? And hopefully I have encouraged you to try adding cycling to your fitness regime. I’m pretty sure you would see the benefits for yourself if you do.
Counting The Cost
But I know what you are thinking…all these benefits are still going to come at a price. You’ll need to buy an expensive bike, and there is still the matter of that lycra. Well, you can certainly spend some money on bikes. I’m as guilty of that as anyone. I daren’t try and work out what I have spent over the years on cycling! But you don’t have to spend big. There’s a good chance you’ve already got a bike. Great. It might be old, unloved, and unused at the back of the shed gathering dust, but it will do the job. It doesn’t matter whether its an old mountain bike, a road bike or a basket laden shopper. If you can ride it, you can work out on it. If you haven’t got a bike already there are plenty of cheap secondhand bikes out there on eBay, or gumtree and so on. You can get up and pedalling for surprisingly little.
So go and give it a try…just don’t blame me if you get the cycling bug and find yourself spending big on some carbon fibre exotica. Oh, and remember – lycra is not compulsory!