Cycling is a great cardio workout but it’s also good for toning up. There is some resistance when handling a bike since the roads aren’t always smooth especially on busy streets you have to navigate properly and make sure to hold the handle bars firmly so you won’t lose control of your bike if you hit bumps and cracks. You have to be prepared for the unexpected and for that you need to be quick, agile and have great reflexes. Strength training for cyclist consists of not only lower body work but upper body as well with a strong focus on the upper and body. Cycling is great for the shoulders, arms and even chest to help support your back when you hunch over, but the primaries are the abs and legs so interval training is also very important since being a bike messenger will require you to sometimes pedal fast to meet your deadline and slowing down to regain energy. The more conditioned your body is, the faster you will go and the longer you will last on a long bike ride, and since I am a bike messenger trust me, I am out sometimes for long hours but I enjoy it, so having a strong body and taking the right supplements is a must for me so I can perform at my best.
Before any kind of exercise it’s important to warm up and loosen your muscles to prevent injury but also to enjoy a smooth workout, It’s kind of like warming up your cars engine or (in this case since the topic is cycling) like a well lubricated chain. Warming up also helps lubricate your joints which is why athletes perform best and feel more loose and fluid. I am also a boxer and trust me, I would never step into the ring without warming up. Since I am also a boxer I made it a habit to rotate my hips and neck. This is important so I can remain flexible in this areas to be able to bob and weave, and rotate around to avoid getting hit, but you don’t have to box in order to do this exercise, it’s just good to remain loose in the hips and neck in general to prepare for daily activities. Below is a list of some routines you can try out and if you want to find more information on them, Google and Youtube are your friends.
- Jump Rope – Jump rope is a good cardio workout and a great way to warm-up. Try to do at least 10 minutes every morning to get your body revved up. If you have never jumped rope before don’t worry, you don’t have to be perfect, try your best and practice. Everything takes practice and I don’t believe in practice makes perfect, the minute you feel you are perfect you limit yourself, there is always room for improvement in anything that you do.
- Run in Place – I was never a fan of running in place to be honest, just like I was never much of a fan of treadmills, I prefer to run outdoors and you can do that, you can run around your block for 10 minutes or even do some sprints, but if your just getting into condition this is a great way to start, just like someone who has never exercised before. I wouldn’t push a beginner to run 2 miles and scare the person from working out again. Baby steps is the best way to begin so it’s up to each individuals preference. You can run in place for 10 minutes while listening to your favorite music or podcast.
- Hip Rotations – This is a simple exercise to loosen up your hips and abdominal muscles, I mentioned I do this before boxing but it’s also great for cycling since you will spend some time hunched over so you want to make sure your entire waist including your hip flexors, lower back and abs are loosened up and flexible. To do this exercise all you have to do is stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart, put your hands on your hips and then rotate your hips. Perform 10 rotations on each side.
- Hamstrings and Quad Stretches – The quadriceps, hamstrings and other muscles behind the leg like the bicep femoris can get really tense after cycling for long hours and this affects performance and can make you feel sluggish and fatigued when riding. I like to stretch my legs before going to bed and in the morning as soon as I wake up. My calves don’t get as tense but I like to stretch out my calves as well and rotate my ankles to lubricate the joints. Watch the video below for more great warm up exercises.
5 Great Exercises To Improve Strength and Explosiveness
Bike riding is a great cardiovascular exercise that helps build leg muscles as well as toning up of the abdominal muscles and arms (triceps, biceps, shoulders) due to bumpy streets and firm handling to maintain control of your bike, but you should still follow a workout routine, cycling alone isn’t going to be enough for total body conditioning. As a bike courier I do my best to always be on time with deliveries, but things do happen which is why I am very professional when it comes to scheduling and communication. I find that communication is actually the best service you can provide to a customer; delivering packages on time is very important but I know my clients appreciate knowing where their packages are and how long it will take to get delivered, however, I still give it my all because I am passionate about what I do and will always go the extra mile and to do that I turn on my bluetooth, blast some punk rock and pedal like a mad man but always with caution. My workouts consists of not only strength training but also explosiveness and interval training for that reason, so whenever I need to rush my body is prepared.
- Push-ups – Yes, push-ups is a simple exercise that is sometimes over looked but I think it is one of the most effective exercises out there and there is a variety of forms to target different muscles groups. The standard push-up is great for the triceps, also works the biceps, chest, upper back and abdominal muscles. You can also perform push-ups to concentrate more on certain areas. For example, the wide hand push-up targets the outer part of the chest and this is what will give you a bigger wider chest, it also focuses more on the shoulders, closed hand or diamond push-ups as some call it target the inner chest muscles, and triceps. There is also jumping push-ups which is a bit challenging at first, this is great for strength and explosiveness. Try to perform 3 different varieties, 2 – 3 sets of 10 with 10 seconds of rest in between.
- Abdominal – A lot of exercises already incorporate the abdominal muscles since this area helps support your body, so because of this I spend less time working out this muscle group. I usually pick 3 or 4 exercises and perform 20 reps of each and I am done, I keep it that simple. My favorite abdominal routines are leg raises to target the lower abs, knee in planks, mountain climbers and the old fashioned crunch. You can also try doing crunches while holding a 10 or 20 lb. weight. A strong midsection helps keep proper posture when cycling and this definitely helps support my back when carrying a good amount of weight.
- Squats/Jumping Squats – Squats are a great way to build and strengthen the thigh muscles, men don’t and should not focus on the butt, but ladies, this will definitely tone up your junk and make it stand out more. You can also challenge yourself by holding a 10 or 20 lb. weight. For an even greater challenge try jumping squats which is a great cardio workout for building leg power and explosiveness needed for long distance cycling. You can begin with 3 sets of 15-20 reps, if your persistent with this routine, any routine for that matter you will see results. Summer is just around the corner, so get to work now so you can show off those strong sexy legs at the beach.
- Lunges/Jumping Lunges – Another great exercises for the legs is lunges, this will tone up the front and back thigh muscles as well as the calves, and hip flexors which are all important for cycling performance. Increase your stamina by performing jumping lunges as well for a cardio and strength and conditioning workout. You can also perform a circuit which I love to do because it’s quicker and it increases my heart rate and this will help you burn a great amount of calories and you will shed off pounds. The circuit routine goes like this, regular squats 15-20 reps, regular lunges 15-20 reps, jumping lunges 15-20 reps, jumping squats 15-20 reps. Try 2-3 sets, and increase the amount as you become stronger.
- Burpees with Push-up– I love burpees, I remember reading an article about burpees being athletes worst fear but I fell in love with this workout. I like performing exercises that will get me the results I want and in a quicker amount of time. The exercises I’ve mentioned on this post are all muscle toning and fat burning workouts. Your getting every thing done at the same time, cardio and muscle building. Having a strong core and upper-body really helps me with stability while riding. Having great balance especially when I have big boxes strapped to my back is important and to achieve this I need to make sure I have a strong back, core, and arms to help me maintain control of my bike. This exercise also helps me build punching power, and I loved performing this exercises when I was into MMA as well. To see how this exercise is done click on this link.
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If you are a beginner don’t worry, don’t over work yourself. Start slow and build up gradually, the important thing is that you get started. If you can only do one push-up, then hey at least you did one push-up, the next time go for two and then three. If your a pro, and are just looking for motivation and some tips then you’ve come to the right place. It’s important that we stay on top of our health and consume nutrients that will helps us stay strong physically and our immunity as well. Especially during a time like this. During the Covid-19 pandemic we should be more health conscious and I think the best investment one can make is in their health. If you have your health, you are wealthy. Order today and get 5% off!
As always if you have any questions please feel free to drop your comments down below, and I will be more than glad to help answer any questions you have regarding the products, or questions in general about cycling or physical conditioning. Stay safe everyone!