However, in order not to focus only on a more professional aspect, as if it were training, we will see the benefits that the practice of other sports can generate in addition to the bike. And it is that practicing other sports also entails one different use of the same muscles we use in cycling and different others, therefore we oxygenate and recover them by subjecting them to a different job than usual. Also, there exists a psychological component which is quite important.
So, the more we practice cycling, even at a competitive level, the more advisable it is to combine it with some other practice, especially in gymnasium or its derivatives (outdoor fitness, functional training, etc.). But we will see why it is good to make things compatible and what is the most advisable depending on the type of cycling we practice and the intensity.
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Are the gym and the bike compatible?
Cycling is an overwhelmingly aerobic sport, so it might seem like you don’t need to train anaerobically. However, one controlled muscle toning training will allow us to improve our fitness, something to take into account in the cold and rainy season when it is more difficult for us to go out pedaling. In addition, improving our muscle tone (even in the trunk and arms) will help us to last longer and in better shape on the bike.
Today, going to the gym does not mean lifting heavy weights with the sole aim of emulating Arnold Schwarzenegger from Conan or Danko Calor Rojo, but there are a multitude of exercises that will help us increase our strength and power without causing excessive muscle growth (which, on the other hand, is quite difficult to achieve and requires much more than a few weekly sessions of basic exercises in the gym).
Nor is it mandatory to go to a gym as such, although it is recommended. At home with a mat, suspension straps and elastic bands, dumbbells or other fitness items we can also make a complete exercise table. Or look for an outdoor area where you can work with free weights (our body weight) and do pull-ups, burpees, etc.
However, what we should do first is put ourselves in the hands of a professional, not engage in crazy and uncontrolled weight lifting. If we explain our needs and goals to a personal trainer or monitor, no matter how little he knows or practices cycling, he will advise us on the best exercises and the best way to perform them so that they give us a plus when get on the bike
For example, they exist specific exercises for trapezius, lumbar and back that, working on the power (more repetitions with less weight) will serve us for hold better in a crouched and aerodynamic position. The same goes for leg exercises, working the femoral (with machines, tapes, etc.) will help us gain power in the pedaling when we stand up to sprint or climb a hill.
Really, when cycling is our main physical activity, we don’t need to spend hours in the gym. A table of 45-50 minutes (plus 15-20 warm-up with stationary bike, treadmill or elliptical) is more than enough on the days we go. The goal is look for jobs compatible with cycling.
It is also advisable to vary the exercises from time to time, not to stop at them for months. In fact it is advisable to vary them every monthso that the muscles do not always work in the same direction and route and we achieve a complete development and training.
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Strength and power exercises, great allies if we practice MTB
If we practice MTBeven more so in disciplines such as All Mountain, Enduro or the most radical, work the muscles of the trunk and arms it will be of great help when dealing with unevenness, jumps and obstacles. If we have strong muscles, we will be able to lift the bike better, keep it on its path if we hit a branch or stone and control the rear wheel with movements of the trunk and legs.
In addition, one of the areas that is punished the most as the hours pass on MTB are the forearms, so having good muscles in this area will help us better endure the passage of kilometers and reach the final part of the route with more freshness.
The bike with other sports
Many cyclists are afraid to practice other sports for fear of injury. Obviously, no one is exempt from suffering some setbacks, but as long as we do things logically, we follow the recommended guidelines (warm-up, start of progressive activity, stretching, etc.) nothing should happen to us.
In addition, both mentally and physically we are doing very well, since we work the muscles differently than usual and, just as it happens when we change the exercise table often in the gym, so we get a more complete development and training.
The psychological benefits of practicing various modalities
Sport has always been one of the best psychological escape valves. However, if we are fully immersed in a competitive environment, which demands great concentration, or is excessively demanding, it can have the opposite effect, creating situations of stress or anxiety.
Alternating cycling with other sports will help us break the monotony of always practicing the same thing and will serve to continue working on the physical plan with other activities and mentality. In this way we incorporate new challenges and goals that will modify our routine and that will serve to generate new expectations in training.
Cycling should never be an exclusionary sport, quite the opposite. The ideal is to complement it with other physical activities, being gym exercises the ideal option. Of course, even if the majority of practice is in winter, when the weather makes it more difficult for us to take the bike, it is advisable to extend it throughout the year playing with the intensity and number of sessions depending on the times we leave the route.
To make cycling compatible with any other sport we should not only consider it when we cannot go out or to do during the pre-season, but doing it all year round can have a number of benefits, both physical and psychologicalvery important in the short, medium and long term.