How to get fit through cycling

Merlin Cycles take a look at how you can get on your bike and get fit for the new year.Christmas is coming up quickly, and before we know it we’ll be celebrating a brand New Year. It’s around this time that many of you will begin planning resolutions and making promises to yourself for 2014.

A common New Year’s resolution is of course to lose weight, but going to the gym regularly can be difficult to keep up, and besides why should you pay loads every month when you’ve got your own personal exercise machine right there in your home? We’re talking, of course, about your bike.

CyclingChoosing Your Bike

Maybe you don’t have a bike already, or you’re looking to upgrade from an old model to a sleek new set. Which kind of bike is best for fitness? Let’s take a look and find out:

Mountain Bikes

One of the most popular types of bicycle on the market, mountain bikes are specifically built for off-road travel, which make them extra durable. This also makes them much heavier than their road counterparts, meaning that they’re slower on flat surfaces.

High quality mountain bikes come with fitted suspension forks that can make riding a lot more comfortable; however on cheaper models the forks can just add unnecessary weight.

Road Bikes

A light frame with narrow tyres, road bikes are made for high speed racing. Their weight makes them the ideal choice for climbing hills and long journeys; however it also means they falter when taken off-road.

So which type should you use to get fit?

In all honesty, it depends on what kind of cycling you’re planning to do. If you plan on regularly getting off the beaten path and taking the road less travelled, then a mountain bike is for you. However if you’re solely planning on riding for fitness, or too and from work regularly, then it’s probably best you choose a road bike.

Exercise Before You Cycle

Cycling is a sport like any other, so it’s wise that if you plan on riding hard, you should stretch and exercise beforehand.

Below are just a couple of standard exercises you can do to strengthen your core and stretch out your muscles before you begin cycling:

Lunges

With your feet together and your hands on your hips, take a large step forward with your left foot and bend your knee, lowering yourself so that your left leg is at a right angle and your right leg is stretched out behind you. Hold for 15 seconds, straighten up and repeat with the opposite leg. Perform four sets of 15, pausing to rehydrate between each set.

The Superman

Lie flat on the floor, with your arms and legs outstretched. Raise both your arms and legs a few inches off the floor and hold them there for 10 seconds. Perform three sets of ten.

Losing WeightCycling

Cycling is the perfect sport for weight loss as it burns a high number of calories. By riding at moderate speeds for half an hour you’ll burn approximately 235 calories, or the equivalent of one slice of chocolate cake.

There are several ways you can cycle for weight loss, for example you could try fitting an hour’s ride into your everyday schedule. Swap the car or bus for your bike, cycling to and from work every day could help you get fit in no time.

In terms of losing weight, shredding off a pound or so each week is the healthiest option for your body. Of course the best way to lose the weight and ensure it stays off is to exercise regularly and eat healthily.

Body Toning

Whilst it’s not ideal for building muscle mass, cycling can be used to tone your body. Sprint riding and cross training, alongside other rapid cycling workouts, will help strengthen your legs and bulk them up slightly, but in order to properly tone your lower body you’ll want to focus on uphill climbing.

Cycling uphill is also a great way to build your overall endurance. If you happen to live in an incredibly flat area, you needn’t feel left out, as there are plenty of exercises which can be done in your own home to simulate uphill cycling.

For example, try going for over-gear workouts such as standing and cycling in the highest gear possible. Alternatively, you could cycle as fast as possible on a regular gear whilst standing on your bike. These kinds of exercises mirror the actions you’d normally do on a proper hill climb, without the need for the humongous hill.

Those are our tips for getting fit in the New Year with cycling, but let us know your top fitness tips in the comments section below. Remember, if you keep a healthy diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle then staying in shape will be much easier.

(Image Credits: Cycling Sunset via BigStock, Family Cycling via BigStock)

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