It won’t be long before we’re trading snow pants for cycling shorts and returning to the streets and trails aboard our bikes. Walmart talks to an expert cycling trainer about preparing for your best bike season ever.
“It’s a pretty dynamic sport,” cycling coach Andrew Randell says about cycling. “You need a lot of different abilities.”
Andrew Randell is a former professional cyclist who coaches athletes of all levels at The Cycling Gym in Toronto. He raced all over the world as a professional cyclist for thirteen years. Among his many accomplishments is being named Ontario Cycling Association Male Athlete of the Year in 2007. He coached cyclists and managed the Jet Fuel Coffee cycling team before opening The Cycling Gym with business partner, Level 3 Mountain-Biking Coach, Steve Neal, in 2014. Andrew and Steve believe that cyclists need strength and conditioning training, stretching and mobility work year-round to improve athletic performance and overall well-being.
Table of Contents:
- How do you get in shape fast for cycling?
- How can I strengthen my legs for cycling?
- How can I increase my cycling endurance?
- How do I become a stronger cyclist?
How do you get in shape fast for cycling?
According to Randell, the Cycling Gym helps prepare cycling enthusiasts for the season and keeps them in riding shape year-round. These riders aren’t necessarily racers or elite athletes. They’re like you and me who enjoy going for a ride on weekends with cycling clubs and friends. We want to be fit enough to keep up, and Randell says the get-in-shape-fast approach works, but only in the short term.
“The spin class, high-intensity training mentality is very popular these days. You can get fit in six weeks [using a stationary bike], but it’s not necessarily the kind of fitness that would help you as a rider,” he informs. “We do use the high-intensity training that gets you results quickly, and then to improve over time, you work on different elements of your fitness.”
Randell has clients rotate concentration on various types of training to meet all the demands of cycling. “You might need to go up a mountain for an hour at a steady pace. You need to be able to sprint a bit,” he explains. “These are all different abilities we work on. When you max out on one, we move on to the next.”
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How can I strengthen my legs for cycling?
Randell recommends lifting weights and doing strength-training exercises with equipment including kettlebells to prepare your legs for all that pedaling. “We incorporate strength training into cycling,” he says. “That’s not common in the cycling world, and people are really surprised at how much it improves their riding. That’s working with weights, doing squats – things like that.”
According to Randell, this type of training helps people where they need it most. “Women tend to have really good mobility and can use the strength training,” he explains. “Guys are already fairly strong and need more mobility. It works for everyone.”
Bring your own strength-training gym home with the Gold’s Gym kettlebell kit. This 3-in-1 set includes 5-, 10- and 15-pound kettlebells with extra-wide handles for a better grip. Vinyl-coated kettlebells are filled with cement and ready to help you burn fat and build muscle. The kit comes with a DVD and exercise chart developed by a Certified Personal Trainer.
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How can I increase my cycling endurance?
“Most people train too hard,” says Randell, which is music to the ears of those who don’t enjoy training! Asked to drill down into what that means, he explains that always training at a peak level won’t develop an endurance system.
“It’s one of the big challenges for everybody,” informs Randell. “To develop endurance, your rides need to be six or seven on a scale up to 10. That’s a good exertion level. You would use a heart-rate monitor and ride below 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. It’s quite a specific effort,” he continues. “[Clients] will say it’s too easy but it becomes harder as you’re improving your endurance. They train too hard when it should be easy, and too easy when it should be hard.”
Randell also believes many cyclists don’t eat enough when they’re out on long rides. “Most people burn 250 calories per hour on a ride,” he says. “They’re only eating at stops or fiddling around to get in their pocket for an energy bar. Put a high-calorie drink mix in your water bottle. You want to take in that energy consistently as you’re burning it.”
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How do I become a stronger cyclist?
Work on your mental game, recommends Randell. “When I was racing, I used to say it was 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical,” he says.
“People’s perception of what they can do changes quite quickly,” observes Randell, who enjoys helping amateur cyclists achieve and exceed their goals. “Their ability to push themselves. People are kind of soft and what they think is hard changes. They can do much more than they believe. That’s one of the things we can improve,” he informs. “You’re getting fitter and what you thought was impossible is manageable.”
Riding in the sunshine is more pleasant when you don’t feel like you’re baking in it. This AND1 Men’s Go-to Performance Top features Dri-motion moisture management technology that is designed to wick away sweat and help you stay dry. And it helps keep you cool with ventilated shoulders, sleeves and side panels.
Randell says we should consider the many talents that go into riding a bike that need practise, too. “It’s more than just pushing hard on the pedals,” he says. “There are techniques, such as drafting, kicking your gears, having a good cadence, keeping your pedals turning at a decent rate. All of these things and more help you become a better rider.”
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