Biking is a low-impact activity with many advantages. With variations in intensity, it can be appropriate for all skill levels. People pursue biking for various purposes: recreation, fitness, as a source of transportation, or as competitive exercise.
Biking can aid in establishing a physically and mentally healthy lifestyle. Regular biking has several health benefits, including but not limited to the following:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Enhanced flexibility and strength in the muscles
- Improvement of joint mobility
- Lowered stress levels
- Better posture and coordination
- Reduced body fat
- Immunity boost
Biking has several advantages for the environment in addition to its health and financial advantages for you. If you use your bike as a means of transportation, you can reduce your carbon footprint.
However, like any other exercise, you must not jump straight to high-intensity biking. If your body is not used to this activity, start slowly and condition your body. Here are some of the ways in which you can prepare your body for biking:
To train for biking, you should try to exercise the lower as well as upper body. You will need to enhance total core strength and muscular endurance. Focus on your legs, core, back, and neck as these are the key training areas for cycling.
The main muscles that you use for biking are all located in your bottom and legs. When biking you use are Gluteus Maximus, Vastus Medialis, Rectus Femoris and Vastus Lateralis (Quad muscles), Semimembranosus and Biceps Femoris (Hamstring muscles), Gastrocnemius Medialis, Gastrocnemius Lateralis and Soleus (Calf muscles) and Tibialis Anterior (Shin muscles).
Bikers typically have slender and well-defined, but not very huge legs. Your leg muscles power the bike with the pedal strokes. Although biking is great for your heart, it does little to help you gain leg muscle mass. You will need to develop your leg muscles with targeted exercises off the bike. Schedule a leg day in the week.
If you're cycling on leg day, it's important to limit the amount of time you spend on the bike. Alternatively, if you cycle the day after a leg workout rather than right away following one, you can extend your time on the bike. Cycling is an aerobic activity that can aid with DOMS prevention and muscle recuperation after a leg workout. Contrary to what one might assume, biking will actually prepare your muscles to heal more quickly, even though it may feel difficult after exercising your legs.
You've probably had some hamstring soreness or pain since you started biking. You can prevent a severe hamstring injury by performing the right strengthening exercises. The high occurrence of hamstring injuries in sports has led to much research on the topic. Findings suggest that dynamic hamstring exercises increase the range of motion and reduce passive stiffness.
Bodyweight leg exercises can help you target your glutes, quads, hips, calves, and hamstrings. With these exercises, you can gain strength, stability, durability, and balance. The best part is, you need no expensive gym memberships, and you can do these exercises just about anywhere.
Although riding a bike is almost exclusively associated with the legs, core strength is a crucial and frequently disregarded part of this exercise. Every cyclist should include core training in their preparation, but many do not, perhaps somewhat understandably; they prefer spending more time on their bikes. However, core exercises should not be overlooked because the abs and lower back are key to the movement of cyclists. Your effectiveness, power, and injury resistance all increase due to the stability of a strong torso.
Biking requires core strength, yet the time on your bike doesn't significantly increase your core strength. It will make you slightly stronger, but practicing some additional core exercises is also worthwhile. Your back will certainly appreciate it!
Here are some exercises that you can use to strengthen your core:
- Hollow Hold: The posture you must hold as part of this exercise looks like an upside-down plank. You need to extend your arms and legs while balancing on your butt. In this exercise, the upper abs work the hardest to keep you upright and stable.
- RKC Plank: This is an upgraded version of the front plank. You will use the same posture as the plank for this exercise, except with a few tweaks. You must create more full-body tension by bringing your elbows and knees together, squeezing quads, and pressing your arms into the floor. RKC plank provides strength to the deep ab muscles around the spine.
- Sit up: The classic and popular exercise targets the rectus abdominis. It creates tension in the muscles of the upper abs. Start by lying down flat on the floor. Bend your knees at 90 degrees while keeping your hands across your chest. Pull your torso to your knees by flexing your abs. To descend back down, contract your core. This counts as one rep.
One of the most frequent problems from cycling is neck pain, which is frequently ignored. Although a few factors may be responsible for it, it can be reduced or prevented with a few easy exercises and some good old stretching. Practice upper spinal floor twists, dumbbell one-arm row, upright row, shoulder shrugs, lateral raise, up and down flexion, and side-to-side lateral flexion for your neck. If you are hesitant about neck training, there’s good news for you - most upper body exercises will indirectly help develop the neck muscles. A 2008 study found that individuals who suffered from chronic neck pain previously found some relief after ten weeks of training the upper body.
You must carefully monitor your diet to prepare your body for biking intentionally. Your weekly calorie expenditure will increase after you begin intense biking. To meet your needs, increase your nutrient intake.
When you first begin training, avoid suddenly and drastically increasing your caloric intake. The increase in caloric intake should correspond to the increase in activity level.
You’ll need to pay attention to your intake of carbohydrates and proteins. You may also need vitamins D, C, and E, magnesium, and iron. However, before you take nutrition supplements, it is best to consult your physician.
The significance of hydration is often emphasized. Water promotes the growth of muscles, lubricates the joints, and reduces the risk of muscle cramps and injuries. The most common recommendation is to consume eight glasses of water each day. Even if that's a solid start, everyone has different requirements. Your hydration needs will depend on how hard you train for biking. A more demanding workout would result in higher fluid loss through sweat and a more important requirement for hydration. Please tweak your hydration plan to raise your endurance, reduce fatigue, and ride more effectively and enjoyably.
Get the required and suitable gear for biking as part of body prep. The posture on a bike is of prime importance. Condition your body with the right exercises, stretching, nourishment, hydration, appropriate training, and sufficient rest. You can optimize your biking performance through a good combination of all of these.
This is a guest blog written by our friends at BarBend.