Many of us spent our younger years behind the handlebars of a bike. Then, cycling was all fun and games. Now, we’re more likely to hop on our bikes for our daily commute or to sweat off some calories at a spinning class. But, apart from how fun it can be, what are the benefits of cycling?
We caught up with track and road cyclist Marco Cecchinato, to find out more about the benefits of the bike and why incorporating cycling into your routine could offer a wealth of health advantages.
What are the key benefits of cycling?
Cycling is beneficial for two main reasons; one is warming up before a workout and the other is cooling down, especially useful to enhance circulation after a hard leg day session. Cycling can be beneficial for fitness but also for athletes who are more focused on weight training and building muscle.
How can cycling improve fitness?
The main mistake is to link cardio with catabolism and cortisol spikes - this isn’t completely true because cycling is not particularly muscle demanding and it doesn’t cause muscle damage like running. So, a light one-hour bike ride could improve your cardiovascular system while also causing a ‘pump’ and overall improved strength.
WHICH PARTS OF THE BODY WILL CYCLING TARGET?
Of course, cycling will strengthen and tone your legs, as well as benefiting your blood circulation. During hard cycling sessions, you can expect to feel a burning sensation in your upper legs, especially in the vastus medialis and in the glutes. Those looking to tone their legs, whilst also upping their fitness levels should consider adding cycling into their routine.
ROAD CYCLING VS STATIC CYCLING – WHICH IS BEST?
They may seem similar but they’re very different. While cycling on road or outdoors, more core muscles are used and increased alertness is required compared to indoor cycling, meaning you produce more endorphins and an increased stamina. The downside is adverse weather conditions and traffic conditions.
Indoor cycling, on exercise or spinning bikes for example, is great for supporting muscle growth and can be more comfortable than outdoor cycling. However, you’re less likely to achieve the same kind of cardio pay off as outdoor cycling as it’s hard to replicate the duration of a road cycle on a static bike.
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR SOMEONE WANTING TO START CYCLING?
I would recommend starting gradually. Don’t be too brave with your distance to begin with as this could leave you spending the afternoon wiped out on the couch! Start small and gradually increase your targets over time.
I’d also start by focusing on ride duration, not distance. For example, start off with a 30-minute ride then add 5-10 minutes to each ride each time. Like every sport, dedication pays off. Be consistent and stick at it to see results.
Been wondering how to start cycling? Or maybe you’re keen to get back into biking? Well, we hope Marco’s top tips have given you enough inspiration to get onto the saddle and to add this popular sport into your workout routine. For more information on Marco and his cycling, be sure to follow him on Instagram.
For more training tips, visit our blog, where we’re discussing the difference between HIIT and LISS and covering the best runs you should sign up for this year.