With the weather now becoming incredibly warm, many of you may be starting to think about getting out and going cycling a little more often.
Whether you choose to take your bike to the mountains and escape the busy life that goes on in the city or you're just looking to go out riding after a hard day at work or over the weekend when you're ready to relax and enjoy the outdoors, keeping some factors in mind is important.
Not only are there things you can do in the gym to help you with your cycling efforts, but understanding proper nutrition and supplementation will also help you make the most of your time spent out on your bike. Here are some things to keep in mind as you head out.
Many Of You May Be Starting To Think About Getting Out And Going Cycling A Little More Often.
In The Gym
Focus On Quad And Hamstring Training ///
When you're out on your bike, the two main muscles that will power you through the ride are your quads and hamstrings. It will be important to have a careful balance between training the two muscles. You don't want to start experiencing a muscle imbalance.
When that happens, you set yourself up for injury, especially in the lower back area if the weaker muscle becomes tight. Good exercises to include for these muscles include squats, deadlifts, leg curls, lunges, step-ups and split squats.
You will also strengthen these muscles as you ride, but devoting some exercises in the weight room to them as well is a smart move to get maximum results.
Don't Neglect Your Upper Body ///
One problem many cyclists have is they focus so much of their energy on their lower body training thinking this is what will be needed for cycling and end up neglecting their upper body entirely.
The upper body is actually used to a large extent during cycling because it partially supports your body weight as you continue to cycle. Over longer rides, lasting one to two hours in duration, don't be surprised if you find your upper body feels sore.
Since it will be evident to you after a few runs out that it is working the upper body muscles, take the time to do some weight lifting exercises such as bench presses, shoulder presses, horizontal rows, and an exercise for both the biceps and triceps muscles.
Walking On An Incline Is Preferable Over Running ///
Finally, for the cardio portion of your gym workouts, cycling seems like the obvious choice but if you are out on your bike a number of times a week, you may not want to do this or you could start suffering from overtraining.
Consider performing some uphill walking if you're looking to do some cardio in addition to your rides. This will be a better choice than running since it still allows you to get your heart rate up and burn calories quickly (if the incline is high enough), but it will also force your legs to fight against resistance, which is important for building muscle and simulating how it feels when you're out cycling.
This will be especially the case if you cycle in the mountain areas or in locations where there are a number of hills.
Consider Performing Some Uphill Walking If You're Looking To Do Some Cardio In Addition To Your Rides.
Next, you also need to look into proper nutrition to make sure you have the fuel to get you through your workouts. It's important that you're eating well not only before you go out to cycle but also after you're finished.
Carbohydrates Around Training ///
Right before your training you want to take in a good solid source of carbohydrates that will release somewhat slowly in your body so you'll have a steady stream of fuel for the longer period of time that you'll be out there. Good options include oats, pasta, brown rice or a big bowl of fruit and yogurt.
If you're going to be out for longer than an hour, then it's also a smart idea to take some fast-digesting carbohydrates along with you.
You Want To Take In A Good Solid Source Of Carbohydrates.
Options here include dried fruit (just limit quantities of this; it can cause some individuals gastrointestinal distress), one of the gel glucose packets that are available for endurance athletes, or a sports drink made out of a carbohydrate solution like Vitargo.
Some people may even be able to handle more solid sources such as a bagel with jelly as well, but you'll have to test this out for yourself first and see how your body handles it.
Maintaining Adequate Hydration ///
In addition to providing carbohydrates to fuel your ride, you also need to make sure you're staying well hydrated. While you may not feel as though you sweat as much on a leisure ride as you would if you were out for a hard run, that does not mean you shouldn't take in liquid.
Water is best for rides that last an hour or less, but for rides that are longer again that carbohydrate beverage will be a good option. These will also help to supply your body with the electrolytes it needs to maintain good muscular contraction rates.
Being sure to properly hydrate yourself before the ride is also essential since this will get you started on the right foot. If you go in already slightly dehydrated, you're going to be fighting an uphill battle.
Finally we move on to supplementation. When used properly there are a number of supplements that can make your cycling trips more effective and enjoyable.
Protein Powder ///
The first supplement to consider is protein powder. This is a good option to take for longer rides to give your muscles some amino acids to feed on while you're out there burning up fuel. Failure to provide these amino acids could result in lean muscle mass loss, so it's important not to overlook.
Even taking in 10-15 grams worth of protein powder could mean the difference between maintaining your muscle and suffering a small loss. Mix it in with your carbohydrate solution if you're using one for easy use.
If you're doing mountain cycling or are doing any type of races, you may also want to think about adding creatine to your supplement protocol. While creatine has traditionally been used for weight lifting workouts, if your rides are intense enough and involve short bursts of intense activity, creatine will be beneficial to you as well.
You may not need to complete the loading phase like someone who is doing three or four lifting sessions a week, but taking the maintenance level (5 grams/day) is a smart move.
Glucosamine is a good supplement for cyclists to take since it helps to prevent joint problems from developing.
Since there will be a good amount of wear and tear on your joints as you go about your rides, this will provide back-up support that all the tendons and tissues surrounding the joint maintain good health, preventing pain down the road.
Energy Products ///
Finally, if you're still struggling with the nutritional aspect of what to take on your rides, consider some of the energy products available. You can easily pack a high-carb protein bar with you that will be easy to stash with you and take out when you need fuel.
You Can Easily Pack A High Carb Protein Bar With You.
Or, if you're looking for pure energy, consider one of the caffeine stimulant products. These you can take about half an hour before you go out and will provide you with an extra kick to get your ride going.
So, make sure you keep these three components in mind as you prepare to do your riding. Cycling is a great activity to keep your fitness level up and by taking care of these issues you will help make the most out of it.