There’s nothing like getting out into the fresh air and on the open road to fire up your fitness routine. And what better way of doing this than cycling? This all-round body workout has become hugely popular, with around 43 percent of the population owning a bike. Not only that but approximately 740,000 people cycle to work in great Britain alone.
There’s no denying that this super sport is great for fitness and stamina, but just three hours of biking a week can reduce the risk of heart disease by 50 percent! It’s also worth knowing that by replacing a car trip with a bike trip, you save around 200 grams of CO2 per kilometre, which makes cycling good for you and the environment!
Convinced? Well if you’re thinking of taking up two wheels, here are some top tips to help you get started.
What you need The most important thing you need to get your hands on is a bike, and this can also be the most confusing thing to buy. Consider first of all where you intend to ride your bike. Will it be cross country, or on busy city streets? This will affect the type of bike that you need. Also think about your height and if the bike fits you.
Stand over the frame with both feet flat on the ground. You should have a couple of inches clear between the top of the frame and your crotch. Mountain bikes tend to need a bit more space, so allow for an extra half an inch to an inch.
Getting started If you’ve no experience of cycling then start small. Set a low mileage goal that is achievable, for example you might aim for between five and eight miles each time. You can then add on a bit each week. Choose a route that isn’t too complicated. Leave challenging hills for when you’ve more experience and you’ve built up strength and stamina. Ride often so that you get used to your bike, but also make sure you have rest days as your muscles will need time to recover.
Keep hydrated. Take a bottle of water with you and sip regularly every 10-20 minutes. Sports drinks that contain electrolytes and carbs will also help increase energy levels and reduce recovery rates for longer bike rides..
Training plan If you want to improve fast as a beginner cyclist you need to introduce structure and routine into your workouts. Start with a simple three-week training plan as outlined below, and then increase the levels of intensity and the frequency with which you train for a more challenging workout.
This workout will build up strength and stamina and help you go for longer cycle rides. Repeat the schedule for three weeks, adding on extra minutes and mixing up your speed and intensity where-ever possible.
Sun-1 hour ride, Mon – Rest, Tue – 45 mins, Wed -Rest, Thu – 45 mins, Fri- Rest, Sat – 45 mins inc. hills
After three to four weeks move on to this training pattern.
Sun-2 hour ride, Mon – Rest, Tue – 60 mins, Wed -Rest, Thu – 60 mins, Fri- Rest, Sat – 45 mins inc. hills