Improve Your Endurance: A Quick Guide for Avid Riders
Words by Amanda Wilks
Keeping pace with a steady cycling routine starting to get you down? Finding it difficult to work out an exercise routine that enables you to make it to the end of your favorite trails? Sometimes just getting out for a ride every now and then isn't enough.
If you're currently trying to take your cycling endurance to the next level it may be time to get out of your current exercise and biking rut in favor of a routine that encourages muscle growth and proper cardio to keep you on your bike for as long as you'd like.
If you're already keen on cycling and know your general limits, this guide might just help push you through an exercising plateau with a few keen insights on how to maximize what you gain from an afternoon's work.
Take Your Training Indoors
For many cyclists, the option to ride year-round isn't an option at all. Weather patterns and the harshest temperatures of the most extreme seasons can sideline any athlete. The worst downside to being forced out of your routine is just that - losing your routine can make you feel more lax and lackadaisical about losing your biking edge. Just one winter's worth of missed rides can set you back harder than you'd think.
Preparing for indoor cycling training is fairly simple nowadays with a wide range of indoor bike trainers available on the open market. The most common you'll find are often stationary bikes with various functions focused on aggregating information about your ride as well as offering various resistances and training programs for those unfamiliar with their ideal training style. More experienced bikers might opt for roller-style trainers, which let you use your preferred bike to ensure you never lose a feel for how to handle it.
Regardless of the method you choose, setting up a routine and sticking with it is both necessary and vital to your long-term performance. After setting a baseline for your ability to cycle for long periods, slowly increase the time you spend pedaling at your preferred intensities as suggested by the above guide or you'll just burn calories instead of improving endurance proper. Weight loss is great, but we're after cycling results.
As always, make sure you set up a routine you can stick with, too. A light routine is better than one you never get around to, after all. Most routines that properly work on endurance will require 60 to 90 minutes of your day and must be planned for accordingly
Expand Your Cardio Horizons
Knowing that cardio is good for you in this day and age is something of a given. Its benefits are wide and varied and nearly every facet of a cardio regimen offers body-strengthening power that can only help when you next go on a ride, so don't underestimate the power of keeping up with non-cycle exercises with cycling endurance in mind.
Any physical exercise that increases your heart rate qualifies as cardio on a technical level. Just like your indoor cycle training, these cardio exercises require proper planning, manageable schedules, a gradual increase in high-intensity work and consistency. Some cyclists will get the most out of doing the same exercises every day, while some might prefer to run one day and jump rope the next. Finding what keeps you from burning out is nearly as important as starting in the first place.
Breaking up pure cardio with the occasional bout of strength training offers its own rewards, especially those that focus on lower body strength. Exercises that don't require equipment work on any budget and almost any restrictive space, so don't feel like you have to run out and purchase hundreds of dollars in weightlifting equipment just to give your legs a workout.
Push Your Limits
Going for broke in a safe manner establishes where you might be weakest and where you don't need to focus quite as much. It pushes your body to its limits, saves you time and yet still might not leave you as battered as if you had taken an equal amount of time out of your day for a running session.
Growing complacent with your training is the worst way to lose headway. You're going to lose some momentum or motivation here and there as that's simply human, so make the most out of your exercises and push yourself to the edge of what you might consider your personal tolerances. Yes, you will be sore. Yes, you can complain about it. Find others to train with if you need others to suffer with you to really get the most out of your exercise or even better, get yourself a coach if you know that you need a little more motivation and discipline.
In short, mixing up your routine and pushing yourself as much as possible will lead to results no matter what field you're exercising in. Cycling endurance works just the same as any other sort of physical test of endurance, so don't be afraid to mix up your routine and work in ample cardio. The burn will be worth it when you can ride for hours without feeling absolutely drained.