With the weather turning cooler, spending less time on the bike might be appealing. There is more adverse weather to deal with, along with waning daylight. Riding indoors on a trainer or rollers is a good way to maintain cycling form despite being a bit on the boring side. Cross training for cyclists on the other hand can keep up some of your fitness while being fun, exciting, and simply different.
There are additional benefits to cross training for cycling besides maintaining hard-fought fitness gains you made when the weather was nice and the days were long:
- Workouts in cross training disciplines can be shorter, while making similar fitness impacts.
- Cycling is a low impact sport; you need to do other work to boost bone density. Cycling alone can lead to bone mass loss. Many cross training activities have some impact, increasing bone density as your body responds to the training. (this is particularly important for woman)
- Cross training can be a great mental break. After all of the hours you spend on the bike, sometimes a change is nice, especially if it is going back to an activity you love.
- Hiding from the bad weather is not always a bad thing. Too many wet and cold rides can take away some love for cycling.
Cross Training for Cycling
There are lots of ways you can spend your time cross training. If you are excited about it and it will keep you fit and moving, go for it. Below are five activities that are common and will have a few of the benefits mentioned above.
The benefits of running when it is cold and the days are short are easy, it takes less time to get a workout in and because you are going slower, there is less wind, thus it’s easier to stay warm. With the impact of each stride, you make your bones stronger. You may see less of the world on the bike, but you can see it in greater detail – it will give you a different perspective of your local training grounds.
Weight training can give you great benefits on the bike by developing both muscular endurance through high repetitions and low weight exercises and neuromuscular explosiveness with high weight maximal exercises. It is very easy to stay warm when you are working out indoors, while benefiting your bone density greatly by putting strain on your skeleton. It might not be the most mentally uplifting activity, but staying focused on the benefits can get you through a winter’s worth of workouts and stronger on the bike.
Was there a sport that you enjoyed before cycling? Now is the time to do it. Lots of sports that are traditionally outdoor sports have some indoor version – soccer, rock climbing, basketball, etc. It can be an enjoyable mental break that will keep you fit and healthy through the cooler days of the year.
Core strength is quite trendy right now. Yoga is an activity that can boost core strength, along with all-around strength and flexibility. It can also be a time to get your mind focused and settle your thoughts unlike many other competitive disciplines.
The first few times you run after exclusively riding, you will be sore (but your lungs will work great). But there is an activity that does use roughly the same muscles and movement as cycling – skating. If you know how to skate, you can jump right in and show off your fitness immediately. If not, go learn and you will be skating well relatively quickly. There are even skating clubs that offer competition and the group environment that cycling offers during the fair weather. (And if you were wondering which type of skating was being referred to… well all three: skate skiing (traditional cross country skiing in skating form), ice skating, and roller skating which can be a great activity when it’s cold out but not cold enough for snow and ice.)
Do not let the word training fool you; cross training for cycling should be a fun and beneficial distraction through the fall and winter. Find and activity that suits you and enjoy yourself while keeping up your fitness.