Training For A Cycling Event? Here’s What You Need To Know
So you finally committed to that cycling event – good! You may even be doing it to raise money for a charity – great! But now you have to actually train for it – urgh. Fear not, for we have researched, compiled and distilled the very best strategies to give you the edge when training for a cycling event.
Water, water and more water.
You likely know that when training for a cycling event, your body will require significantly more fluids than in day-to-day life. But did you know that not getting enough fluids can put a massive strain on your heart, as well as the rest of your body? (And we’ll need both to get you over that finish line.) Avoid this by drinking plenty before the ride, and little and often throughout. Remember – if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated! A useful way to monitor hydration is by looking at your urine – a pale yellow colour indicates you are well hydrated, but anything darker means you need to drink more!
Go for long rides
Unfortunately, cycling to the local pub does not count as a long ride. You will need to take on more lengthy cycle rides, ideally weekly or fortnightly, to improve. Anything upwards of an hour counts (depending on your fitness and goal) – just as long as it is further than your typical daily ride (a different pub doesn’t count - sorry). These long rides form the foundations of all your cycling training, and should be a regular feature of your training regime.
Try biking intervals
Try mixing the long rides with shorter, faster-paced rides. You can experiment, but sometimes, the simplest formulas work best: short bursts of fast cycling (e.g. 10 minutes), followed by a recovery period – then repeat. We recommend doing this twice a week. Always remember to warm up and cool down before and after your sessions.
Build up your strength
A strong cyclist is a good cyclist, and incorporating some specific strength exercises into your overall cycling training will pay dividends come race day. Here are some strength-building exercises to get you started:
- Legs: If you have access to a gym, exercises like leg presses and weighted squats are perfect for turning those chicken legs into pumping pistons! If you’re at home, try lunges and bodyweight squats – both are ideal for building vital leg strength.
- Arms: Bicep curls and tricep presses will help strengthen your arms. If you are able, try to incorporate chin ups and dips, which are slightly harder, but are brilliant strength builders.
- Back: Rowing exercises and lat pull-downs build upper to mid back strength, while back extensions train the lower back. If you can, try some wide-grip pull ups – the king of building back strength!
Many cyclists suffer from poor chest flexibility. Spending hours hunched over a bike can cause an overstretched upper back and under-stretched chest. Avoid this by properly stretching out your chest (and everything else) before and after every ride.
Alternative cycle training options
For when the weather sucks and you just don’t feel like it, here are some training options for when you can’t face the great outdoors:
- Gym bikes: While not quite the real thing, the stationary bikes at your gym can still be a great workout. Most have a selection of programmes built in, meaning you can get in a great hill climb or interval session without ever having to go outside.
- Cycle or turbo trainers: attach this device to the back wheel of your own bike and you can train at home! Your bike is supported in a stand and the trainer has a variable resistance.
- Rollers: these are similar to the cycle or turbo trainers, but don't support you, leaving the additional challenge of balancing during your training session - just as you would outdoors.
- Spinning classes: Challenging and even enjoyable, these group-based stationary bike sessions can greatly improve your endurance in preparation for the big event!
Looking for a cycling challenge? Check out the cycling events worth training for in 2018.