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BIKE FITNESS: TO GYM OR NOT TO GYM? THAT IS THE QUESTION

CYCLING NEWS & REVIEW:

By Columnist Genevieve Whitson – Professional Cyclist 

Gym fitness
Photo Credit: Imre Peterfl, 2014: Going to the gym can improve your bike fitness –

For as long as I can remember and have been cycling, there has been ongoing debate amongst the peloton as to whether gym workouts are beneficial to cyclists. I am, personally, a believer in the gym for cyclist. Having spent 8 years without a gym and 6 years with the gym, I know which one has propelled my strength, flexibility, stamina and endurance – and it didn’t happen from just pushing the pedals outside. It came from using free weights, a swiss ball and foam roller.

What Can a Gym Routine Do For Bike Fitness?

It is possible to build strength and power by just riding on the bike. For example, low cadence hill reps and short and snappy high power bursts. But, this will not necessarily build core strength and strong stability through the abdomen area.

A strong core is fundamental for climbing and holding high levels of power for long periods. So, if your upper body is weak, you fatigue faster in races through the abdomen area. You may also find that you’re more susceptible to injury.

I have raced against the best women in the world, and I have met many top female riders suffering from ongoing knee and back problems that gym work would’ve prevented. Plus, weights help make bones strong and can lower your risk of osteoporosis.

You don’t have to be a gym bunny and commit to 5 days a week in the gym. In fact, I would recommend just 1 or 2 sessions a week that are no more than 30 minutes in length.

At Home Gym Fitness

If you are a little shy of gyms or don’t like the whole gym image, or the costs involved, you can do a weekly routine in the comfort of your house. A great exercise routine to follow is:

Swiss Ball – Get a swiss ball and practice core strength exercises. A strong stomach will make it easier to ride uphill fast

1. Simply do ten sit ups a day 2-3 times a week.

2. Do press ups or half press-ups to get a strong back and core.

Light Weights – Get some light weights or even cans of tinned food and work on your arms. A strong upper body will help the legs power-on.

Kettlebells – Buy a kettlebell and do some free weight squats. Make sure you start super light. If you have never squatted before I would suggest starting with as little as 5-10kgs, especially if you weigh less than 50kgs.

Yoga – Do some yoga! It will give your body a good stretch and will work on strength.

For Those Who Love the Gym

Building Strength – Squats, deadlifts, step ups and pull-up bars are all a good place to start. The most important thing to remember though is to get the technique right before you attempt to lift a lot.

When I started in the gym, all I squatted was the bar (20kg’s), and it didn’t go beyond that until my technique was correct. If you need guidance on how to do it right, ask one of the gym staff or take a trusted friend who knows what they are doing.

DON’T ATTEMPT TO LIFT OR SQUAT WEIGHTS IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING – IT’S DANGEROUS AND CAN CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY

Foam Roller – This is a fantastic way to loosen and activate joints before a workout and to massage the leg muscles after a workout.

Free Weights – Overall I would suggest using free weights over machines. Free weights make you use all the muscles in your body, whereas many machines such as the leg press will give you a workout on a particular body type, but will not always ensure all the muscles are activated.

Kettlebells – A great weight to use if the squat bar is not available. So much can be done with a kettlebell.

Duration – I would recommend not doing more than 30-40 minutes at the gym if you are doing weights. Don’t underestimate the strain weights place on your body. It also takes around two days to recover from a session. So, don’t put back-to-back sessions in the training schedule. Otherwise, you’ll be cursing later.

About Our Cycling News and Review Columnist

Jarlath-Cross-20131-960x576_GenevieveGenevieve Whitson is a NZ born, British/Scottish cyclist, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Gen has a raced at the highest level for Road, Cyclocross and Mountain biking, have competed in four World Championships, multiple World Cups as well as riding professionally on the road. Gen has raced all around the globe on the road bike and is currently riding for a Belgium team, Isorex competing in all the major spring classics.

Highlights of her career include gaining a top 30 finish at the World Cyclocross Championships, a stage win in a major USA road tour, and winning the 2015 Scottish National Hill Climb Champs. Gen also loves to ride a rickshaw in Edinburgh for strength training on the side and is heavily involved in supporting/mentoring up and coming female/male athletes to ride to their potential. Her mantra on the bike is: Eat the pain…

Disclaimer: The information published in this column is the author’s own professional and personal knowledge, and opinion. This information and opinion are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment of any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition and consult a qualified medical professional before beginning any nutritional program or exercise program. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on InShape News.

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