Boost Cycling Fitness with Base Training and More
Did you know that your leg muscles aren’t the only ones in play during cycling? Your gluteal, back, shoulder, arm and neck muscles are all activated by this versatile activity — so you really need to focus on total-body training. And don’t forget, base training is just as important if you want to improve your cycling fitness and performance. Set the wheels in motion with comprehensive training and get yourself ready for cycling season so you can enjoy the many benefits of this sport.
Important for Beginners:
You’re usually full of motivation right at the start. Ready to hit the road pedaling, you begin biking under the motto “the more the better”. Put the brakes on that mentality to avoid excessive strain on your back and your joints. Ease into a training routine, gradually increasing the intensity and frequency of your rides.
Total-Body Toning with Strength Training
If you want to boost your cycling fitness, the first thing you’ll think of is probably leg training. “Basically, you’re not wrong to think that. But make sure to remember that you’re going to do more than enough leg training while actually cycling,” explains extreme sports athlete Gerhard Gulewicz. “This means you should devote your prep time to total-body training. Try to dedicate only ¼ of your training time to leg strength and focus on your other muscles the rest of the time.
Focus on Flexibility
If you really want to be in good shape for cycling season, make sure to mix flexibility training into your routine. Our cycling expert recommends: “Take at least 10 minutes to stretch properly before every ride to actively support your recovery. Don’t forget: you’ll only see the benefits if you’re consistent and dedicated in your efforts.
Train Your Coordination Skills
If you want to venture into wide open spaces, your coordination skills will come into play. They will ensure you can master most tricky situations safely. “There are lots of different ways to train your coordination skills. You can take a class at your local fitness center or try these exercises to improve balance and stability.” Again, consistency is key is here.
Coordination training should always be done before strength or endurance training, and after you’ve completed a warm-up. You can only train your coordination properly if your muscles aren’t already exhausted.
Last, but not least: make time for endurance and base training
Don’t underestimate the importance of endurance training during your cycling season prep. Be sure that you don’t overdo it in the beginning — no high-intensity training with unfamiliar levels of muscle strain! “Increase the intensity and volume of your training gradually over time to see slow, but steady improvement. And never forget to include sufficient recovery time – avoid making these mistakes on your rest days!”, says Gerhard Gulewicz.
This approach has two major advantages:
- You reduce the risk of injury if you don’t overwork your muscles
- You continuously improve, which keeps you motivated.
Tips for Endurance Training:
You should spend more than 80% of your total training time in Zone 1 or Zone 2 — this will help you boost your performance.
What are these zones? They are used to measure training intensity based on your max heart rate. Zone 1 is 60-70% of your max heart rate and Zone 2 is 70 – 80%. Let’s look even closer at the difference.
How can you tell if you’re training in Zone 1 or Zone 2?
Check your breathing:
- You’re training in Zone 1, if you are breathing easily. For example, if you can breath for 5 minutes only through your nose, you’re definitely training in Zone 1.
- You’re training in Zone 2, if you can easily hold a conversation with a training partner despite light to moderate exertion.
Zone 1 Training Info
- You can significantly improve the efficiency of your cardiovascular system by training in Zone 1. You’ll also boost your fat metabolism and speed up muscular regeneration.
- You’re building up many mini muscle powerhouses, so called mitochondria, which can significantly improve your performance.
Zone 2 Training Info:
- This is how you can really improve your carbohydrate metabolism. Simply, this means that your body will be able to more easily convert carbs into energy. During more intense training, your body will be better able to use carbs from your glycogen stores as fuel. This means you definitely need to replenish those stores after your training session.
How long should an endurance training session last for beginners?
Zone 1: 60 minutes or longer, but no longer than 2 hours in the initial training stages.
Zone 2: 30–60 minutes. For slightly more experienced cyclists, no more than 90 min.
Don’t forget to do at least a 10-minute warm-up before your base training session, and follow up with 10–minute cool-down riding at a relaxed tempo.
If you want to take up cycling in the future, make sure you don’t take on too much at once. Base training is an important part of cycling fitness, as well as strength training. Don’t forget coordination skills and recovery. “Even if you firmly believe that more is better when it comes to training, that definitely not the case with cycling. While you’re riding, your muscles are being stimulated, but the real improvement to your performance ability comes while your muscles are resting afterward,” concludes biking expert Gerhard Gulewicz.
Gerhard Gulewicz Gerhard Gulewicz has been participating in the Race Across America bicycle race for over a decade. The race stretches from the West Coast to the East Coast of the USA. In 2014, the career of the extreme athlete was part of the documentary film “Attention – A Life in Extremes.” View all posts by Gerhard Gulewicz »
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