ActiveHealth Community Writer
Unless training for a specific race, we most often just want to ride our bike, stay fit, and not be bound to a strict training plan. Such regular rides however need not be completely aimless. Incorporating some common training habits into even leisurely rides will do well to add a bit of fitness building element into it. Those getting started with competitive cycling will also do well to practice these habits first before subscribing to a specific training plan in order to develop the skills and endurance needed for doing measured higher intensity and more specific workouts.
Get High on LSD
Long Slow Distance rides that is. Although the necessity of doing frequent long 3+ hour low intensity rides for building base aerobic fitness are now arguable, we still recommend doing it every so often. It will help those starting out with sport cycling to get used to pedaling and being on the saddle for several hours. Fitter and more experienced athletes on the other hand, could do this as a sort of refresher ride – going back to the simple pleasures of exploring, traveling, or socializing while riding without the pressure of training.
Moreover, because it’s low intensity, LSD rides can be done frequently and on consecutive days if desired.
When your available riding time is short and limited, the best way to make the most out of it is to do High Intensity Interval Training, which is basically alternating between hard and easy efforts. This can be completed in one hour or less. We won’t make a recommendation regarding the intensity, duration, and quantity of intervals. Simply do multiple bursts of effort with a significant degree of perceived difficulty.
This can also be incorporated into your causal outdoor rides. When you chance upon a long, clear, and safe stretch of road, sprint. Then rest a bit and sprint again. Keep doing this for as much as you like or until you reach the end of that road section. This will give your casual ride that extra bit of training fatigue.
Routinize Indoor Cycling
Indoor riding is an essential aspect in training for cycling and not merely a substitute when riding outdoors is impractical. The precision and consistency in effort you can do on an indoor trainer, which is difficult to replicate on the road, makes it an essential training exercise and not just an alternative.
Even when you aren’t strictly training, doing indoor rides are a quick and time efficient means to a substantial bike workout. Binge watching a TV series or a doing a movie marathon? Do it while spinning. You can pedal along at an easy effort through four episodes and you would have done an LSD ride. Or make a game out of it to keep things interesting. Do a sprint effort every time a character says a curse word in a movie like Pulp Fiction, for example, and you would have done intervals.
Climbing, sprinting, time trialling – these are specific cycling abilities that require systematic training methods in order to develop race-specific skills that will improve performance. But don’t let strict training suck the fun out of cycling. In times when you just want to stay fit and not suffer much, just ride however you feel and do it reasonably often.