Those who ride a bike on a regular basis know what great exercise cycling can be. But as good as you may feel after cycling, and as good as cycling may be for your health, it is in no way a complete workout. Cycling is a wonderful way to stay in shape, but even the most avid cyclists have to do more. Here are some ways that bikers can cross train to help complement their cycling habits and improve their cycling ability.
It may sound surprising, but running is actually good cross training for bikers. Running can further enhance the leg strength that cyclists will have developed already, but running or jogging provides more of full-body workout than cycling. It works out the upper back, the shoulder area, and the upper arms, as running can give your upper body a nice workout. Running is also more physically demanding and can help improve your endurance and stamina, elements that will ultimately show up in your cycling.
Swimming is another great cross-training exercise for cyclists, as it helps to further develop your cardiovascular fitness. This can be a good way to give your legs a break, as your arms will do most of the work, giving your legs only a light workout. It’s considered a low-impact workout, but your arms and upper body will get a good workout that will ultimately help your cycling, as your joints will get a break and your cardiovascular fitness will improve.
When you’re not biking, you may want to be rowing, because that’s a great way to cross train. Even if you can’t get out to a lake, the rowing machine at the gym will do just fine. Your thighs, hips, back, and shoulders will all get a good workout from a rowing machine, and most of those are body parts that won’t get a lot of work while biking. Also, rowing can be quite a vigorous work out, further pushing your cardiovascular system in addition to working muscle groups that are largely ignored when cycling.
Finally, on days that you don’t cycle, you may just want to spend some time in the weight room doing a variety of exercises. There may not be any cardiovascular benefit to the weight room, at least compared to the aforementioned cross-training exercises, but you will be able to find exercises that work out the leg muscles that can improve your cycling considerably. Doing squats, leg extensions, calf raises, and hamstring curls can all add a good deal of strength to your legs. The weight room also gives you opportunities to work your arms and your core, and making working out in the weight room on a regular basis will eventually pay dividends when it comes to cycling.