How to improve your cycling without riding your bike

Activities and exercises to improve your time on the bike

One way to almost guarantee extra performance in the saddle is simply to ride more often, but sometimes this just isn’t possible. In this article, we highlight the activities that are regularly used to complement training for productive time away from the bike.

Gym training

Your time in the gym can be tailored specifically to improving your cycling
Your time in the gym can be tailored specifically to improving your cycling

Training indoors at the gym will give you an opportunity to use alternative muscle groups that complement your bike riding and will help improve your overall conditioning.

On top of this, most personal trainers will be able to structure you with a plan designed specifically to improve your time on the bike.

Don’t have access to the gym? These gym-free resistance training exercises have been designed to improve your riding.

Walking

Altering your daily routine to include more walking is a relatively easy way to improve your fitness. Whether it's swapping from a congested bus route or going for a twenty minute stroll in your lunch break, every little helps.

Remember that most activity trackers or smartphones will now log your daily step count for a convenient way to track your wallking.

Spin classes

Spin classes are a great way to clock miles during grim winter months
Spin classes are a great way to clock miles during grim winter months

Spin classes can be the perfect way to boost your training without hitting the roads or trails, they’re also ideal for those who are short of time or aren’t willing to face the grim winter weather.

Signing up to these classes also locks you into the commitment, which for a lot of people is an important motivator.

Another alternative to spinning is to take on some indoor training, which surely has to be the next best thing to actually riding your bike. Check out our beginner's guide to indoor training for a quick introduction to the topic. 

Running

Like cycling, running can be particularly addictive
Like cycling, running can be particularly addictive

One way to make a fit cyclist feel dramatically unfit is to introduce them to running. It poses as a totally unique challenge from cycling but remains one of the most effective and accessible cardio workouts there is.

It’s easy to end up injuring yourself though, so take it easy at first and be sure to get some appropriate shoes for your running style.

Discipline swap

We said not riding your bike, so how about having a go on someone else’s?

If you're solely or predominantly a road rider then it's time to get muddy, or if you're a mountain biker then it's time to take on the tarmac. Switching out your preferred discipline can be a great way to work on fitness and bike handling skills.

If the shift from one to another seems too extreme then cyclocross can prove the perfect middle ground. Have a read of our beginner's guide to cyclocross to find out more.

Swimming

Swimming is an enjoyable way to build on your fitness
Swimming is an enjoyable way to build on your fitness

Another excellent way to boost your cycling performance is through time in the pool. Swimming is a full body workout that doesn’t require any fancy equipment. It can also be the perfect way to return from injury.

Professional road rider Richie Port frequently spoke of how his off-season conditioning in the pool helped him achieve some of his best performances on the bike.

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