Cross-training for cyclists

There's no arguing with the fact that cycling is good for your health. It's also a great method of alternative transportation; why drive when you can ride? Better still, it is one heck of a good time. A day spent with a group of friends on open road or a single track is sure to deliver loads of laughs and lots of sweat. Sounds like fun! But, what happens when you're short on time or the weather takes a turn for the worse? It's difficult to pack a worthwhile ride into 15 minutes. And, it's way too cold to go outside. Do you hop on the indoor trainer or head over to spin class? Maybe you skip exercise altogether. The second option is never a great choice, and sometimes riding indoors just doesn't get the job done. That's okay, we've all been there. Lack of time and unpleasant weather are just more motivation to create a cross-training plan. What is Cross-training? Defining cross-training isn't difficult at all. It's when someone participates in training or exercise outside of their sport. For a cyclist that means exercise that doesn't involve a bike. Now that we know what it is, let's explore why it matters. The ultimate goal of cross-training is to use a variety of training methods to improve or prevent shortcomings that might be created when only using one method. Improve Performance Think about it this way; sitting in the saddle, pedaling along works the same muscles in the same manner all of the time. If there's a muscular imbalance or deficiency, there's no way to correct it on the bike. Same goes for a lack of strength. If you want to become better at climbing hills, you can go on climbing more hills. Or, you could also begin a weight training regimen aimed at strengthening the legs and core. In this case two methods (climbs and weights) are better than one (climbs alone). Prevent Injury While cross-training can be used to boost performance, it can also be used to prevent injury and ensure progress. Again, cycling is the same position and the same muscles all of the time, which could result in overuse. No one wants risk losing all of their fitness gains by having to take time off; an injury can be a huge setback. Avoid this scenario altogether by scheduling cross-training workouts into your routine on a regular basis. Give your cycling muscles and position a rest while strengthening your body and improving your fitness in other ways. Cross-up Your Training There are lots of different ways to cross-train. To get started, think about areas of your fitness that you would like to improve. Maybe that's cardiovascular endurance or muscular strength. It could be a combination of things. No matter what you would like to address, select specific goals and create a cross-training plan that will allow you to achieve those goals.

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