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Good fitness requires consistency, but due to travel, work, family, and other time constraints, being able to ride multiple times a week sometimes simply isn’t an option. So, the question becomes, ‘how do I stay fit, when I can’t be on my bike?”.
If consistent bike riding isn’t possible, then the goal becomes consistent exercise. Being able to exercise 3-4 days a week goes a long way in gaining and maintaining physical fitness.
Options for off the bike training:
Strength training and plyometrics.
Squats, lunges, box jumps, plank, push-ups, pull-ups, jump rope, and hip bridging are all great examples of strength exercises that can be done anywhere and with little to no weights needed. Aim for full body, multi-joint exercises, 2-3 times per week.
Cardio cross training.
The goal of cross training is to maintain or increase your cardiovascular fitness (the ability of the heart, blood cells and lungs to supply oxygen-rich blood to the working muscle tissues and the ability of the muscles to use oxygen to produce energy for movement) which is what cycling requires. So, the better your cardiovascular fitness is, the better your bike riding fitness can be.
Examples of cardio cross training are: running, hiking, Nordic skiing, stair master, brisk walking, etc. The goal is to get the heart rate elevated and have it stay there for a certain amount of time. If you are short on time, aim to do more intense exercise- i.e. hard and high intensity intervals.
When you do ride, make the most of your bike riding time.
The time that you spend on the bike is valuable- especially if you can ride only 1-2 times a week. This means every pedal stroke matters, every minute matters, and time should not be wasted. Quality rides limit the amount of coasting and/or soft pedaling. Also, when you are on your bike, ride hard and come home tired. When you are on your bike, you are getting the best training for bike riding fitness, so don’t waste it.
When I have athletes that travel and will be off their bike for several days, I plan their training to accommodate that. This usually means that prior to the travel, they have a hard training block of as many days as that athlete can handle and/or have time for. Then, when they travel, they get a rest and recovery block. The goal is to recover from the hard training prior to travel and then rest and recover and be ready to train and ride hard once they return back home. Their ‘travel training’ is usually a hotel gym strength and plyometric workout followed by foam rolling and stretching.
If you can’t spend consistent time on your bike, aim for consistent exercise. Make sure to have quality training/exercise and balance it with 1-2 days off a week—more if you had a big bike riding block. Make the most of the time that you have on your bike. The goal is always quality over quantity of bike riding.
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