When it comes to cycling tips, there’s always more to learn.
Whether you’re just starting a routine of indoor cycling or mixing indoor and outdoor rides and looking to improve performance for each, we’ve got the insights that can help you get up to speed.
1. Assess your fit
Just as you wouldn’t wear shoes that are too big or too small, not every bike will fit you, says Bianca Beldini, D.P.T., Schwinn-certified trainer and U.S.A. Triathlon coach.
“This goes for both indoor and outdoor riders,” she says. “You need the right fit, and bike frames can differ drastically between manufacturers.”
For outdoor bikes, she suggests getting advice at a cycling store, where you can get a professional “fitting” for yourself.
With indoor riders, take time to research different options and read reviews.
Pro tip: Learn about the BODi Bike by MYX here.
2. Focus on the Motion
Although it may be tempting to launch yourself into all the data about distance, speed, or elevation, a better starting point is simple familiarity with the motion of cycling, suggests Denis Faye, former Executive Director of Nutrition at BODi and a member of Big Orange Cycling.
“That doesn’t mean just cruising around with minimal effort,” says Faye, who races amateur level on road, cyclocross, and mountain bikes.
“It means noticing what happens when you push yourself or how your body is responding to cycling. The first rule of being a better cyclist is to ride your bike more. You get better at what you do more of,” he adds.
3. Challenge Yourself With Hills
Climbing hills is the hardest challenge of cycling, says Beldini, because it requires intense muscular force and a strong cardiopulmonary system, not to mention a hefty dose of mental fortitude.
That’s true whether you’re indoors or outside.
“Find a small hill and climb it, or indoors, choose a program with small elevation gains at first,” she says.
“Repeat the hill climb multiple times, then keep incrementally increasing the hill gradient and go for longer durations of time. Riding hills efficiently will make riding on the flats a breeze,” recommends Beldini.
4. Mix Up Your Workouts
Whether you’re cycling indoors or outside, it can be easy to fall into a pattern — which, over time, can become a rut, and that means stalled progress.
Change it up with fresh cycling workouts, particularly ones that emphasize different skills, like a longer tempo ride or a short interval session.
Check out these four options for increasing endurance, stamina, intensity, and aerobic capacity.
5. Don’t Forget to Cross-Train
Although it’s important to put in the cycling time, it’s also crucial to incorporate other workouts to prevent overuse of the same muscles, says Faye.
Of course, with BODi, you have plenty of options for fitness programs that can help you build full-body strength, flexibility, and mobility.
“Doing only one form of exercise like cycling tends to work the same muscles over and over,” he says. “That’s okay for cycling performance, but for better injury prevention, get off the bike and do some cross-training.”
6. Find a Group
Motivation beginning to wane, or you want to push yourself a little more? There’s nothing like cycling with others to provide that boost, believes Faye.
That might mean doing an online cycling program with a trainer and/or live classes or recruiting others locally for an outdoor ride.
For the latter, Faye suggests contacting local cycling stores and looking on their Facebook pages.
“I love riding by myself for certain personal goals, but human beings are competitive, and it’s great to use that to fuel yourself,” he says. “When you’re with a group, you tend to go a little faster and a little harder.”
7. Harness Your Dread
Hate seeing a hill looming ahead if you’re cycling outdoors? Dread a higher intensity cycling workout if you’re indoors?
That means you should be doing more of it, Faye says.
“If there’s something you don’t like, that’s probably what you need to do the most,” he suggests. “That’s kind of a metaphor for life. What you dread doing is what will be the most rewarding to take on and overcome.”
8. Add In Fun Rides
Sure, goals and progress are important. But so is enjoyment and stress relief, says Garret Seacat, C.S.C.S., and USA Cycling certified coach.
Throughout 2020 and beyond, many athletes have struggled with the lack of events, forcing them to work harder on staying motivated.
But Seacat believes that instead of always buckling down, maybe it’s an opportunity to lighten up.
“Remember when you were a kid, and you just went out on your bike and explored and completely lost track of time?” he says.
“Tap into that again. Take a little break and just have fun, explore a different route, look up from your bike computer and take in the scenery. That really helps to re-ignite your enjoyment of cycling and remind you of why you fell in love with it in the first place.”