6 Workouts to Make Your Bike Ride More Than a Cruise

Cycling, Mountain Bike, Isolated.

If cycling is your jam, you may be loving this season. The wonder of biking is that you can do it all year long and by sprinkling it among your walks, runs, or other cardio, help yourself enjoy them all longer. Those who cross train avoid overuse of any body part and tend to have a more balanced body.

Biking for your workout, in exchange for an interval session on a treadmill for instance, or a tough exercise class is more than getting on and putting in time.

You want to observe a few rules of the road (and they kind that make you safe on the road too which we won’t get into here).

  1. Ideally, your cadence/Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) is at 85-100 during your ride. Your optimal power output is at about 90. That means, you want to be shifting as you go up or downhill so you can maintain that. You won’t burn your legs out that way, or wasted your effort.
  2. Think of sitting back in your seat when you go uphill so that you can use your gluteal muscles rather than leaning forward into the hill. You’ll catch yourself doing that latter at first. You’re much stronger in your glutes and won’t fatigue as much if you ride this way.
  3. It’s OK to stand but it takes some practice. Don’t expect it to be graceful the first time. Even if you’re transitioning to outdoors from spinning, there of course is a difference, in that you’re balancing this bike on a hill.
  4. If you’re monitoring your heart rate, by comparison to running or weight bearing exercise, your heart rate will be about 10 beats lower. Removing the effect of gravity does this. That’s comparable work. So if you’re used to working hard at 150 for running your heart rate will be 140 on the bike.

I hope it goes without saying that you wear a helmet when you’re riding outdoors. If you do a lot of riding you may also want gloves. If indeed you do fall, it will save your hands. If you’re venturing into clip-ins (shoes) you’ll be wise to wear gloves as you adapt. Most bikers will tell you it’s not if, but when you fall. Know it’s coming. It may not be due to your own forgetfulness about the need to clip out, but to other bikers on your path or a sudden puddle with slipper mud that makes your wheels skid.

OK, so ground rules covered, any of the following workouts could be done on a bike indoors or outside. Dealing with the terrain outdoors adds another dimension that you can’t control. Having a plan is still a good idea.

1.) Long intervals. Warm up for 5 -10 minutes easy and then do 8 minutes of high intensity (RPM 85-100) but adding resistance as needed to make it feel hard. Then you’ll recover for 3 minutes with easy spinning, still same RPM. Repeat this 5 times for a good hour workout.

2.) Short intervals. Warm up for 10 minutes. Do 3 minutes hard, two minutes recovery. Do at least 6-11 repeats. Continue the rest of your ride easy or cool down.

3.) Hilly Route. Warm up for 10 minutes. On the hills stay seated and ride hard all the way to the present of the hill not allowing yourself to slow close to the top. Recover with an easy flat ride for 5 minutes at least before tacking the next hill. Try to repeat this 4-5 times during your ride.

4.) Long Hills. Warm up on a flat for 10 minutes. Then find a hill that’s a 20-40 minute climb. Stay in the saddle the entire time. Repeat the hill 2-3 times and then ride easy on a flat for the duration you want to ride.

5.) Medium Intervals. Warm up 5-10 minutes. Increase your resistance (or work a hill) for 5 minutes and then recover for 5 minutes. Repeat for 5 sets and cool down.

6.) Power ups. Warm up for 5-10 minutes. For 20-30 seconds increase the resistance as you maintain 85-90 RPM and go as fast as possible. Reduce resistance and settle back into steady pace for 5 minutes. At each 5 minute mark repeat the 20-30 second sprint. Ride for 25-30 minutes like this and cool down.

Are you biking? Got a road bike, hybrid, triathlon bike? Tell me a little about your bike experience.

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