In these winter months, it’s good to expand your mind, stretch your muscles and get fitter faster with these cycling-specific cross-training activities. Some of these you can do in a gym and avoid freezing to death outside.
Deep-water running revs your heart rate – similar to cycling – and strengthens your pedalling and supporting muscles from all angles. Swim lengths for about five minutes to warm up. Then, in the deep end of the pool, run for one minute using short, quick strides. Keeps your abs tight and your cadence at a brisk 80 cycles per minute, so your right knee comes up, about hip height, 20 times every 15 seconds. Tread water easily for 30 seconds to recover. Repeat five times. Rest for about one to two minutes, then do another set of five, increasing the interval time to two minutes. No need to wear a flotation vest – it’ll make the workout too easy.
Take a trip to the back of the gym and climb aboard that often-forgotten-about contraption, the Stair Master. Keep the resistance moderate and your cadence high to simulate hill repeats on the bike. (If the gym is the last place you want to be on a Saturday morning, pound the local high school’s sports field/stadium steps instead.) Do three to four sets of high intensity, 10-minute efforts with five minutes of recovery in between. You’ll develop monster aerobic capacity in your quadriceps that’ll have you crushing climbs on your bike in eight weeks.
Cardio-resistance workouts alternate cardio and strength training, and make your gym routine more cycling specific. Warm up on a stationary bike for about five minutes. Then, hop off the bike and do 10 reps of whatever your first exercise is. Get back on the bike and ride at about 85 percent max heart rate for 2 min 30sec. Perform your next set. Repeat throughout your workout. Research shows this high-intensity regimen can boost muscle strength by about 25 percent while also increasing your VO2max, so you build fitness and lean muscle tissue in about half the time it would normally take to do both.