Cycling is an excellent hobby. It’s great fun, a fantastic way to meet new people, a chance to push yourself, both physically and mentally, and an effective way to build strength, cardiovascular fitness, and muscle tone. Regular cycling can lead to a big improvement in both physical and mental health while reducing the risk of a huge range of health conditions.
While some people are happy to cycle purely for the joy of doing it, most people when they get into a sport like this, want to push themselves, and whether they are entering races, or just looking to beat their own personal bests, there’s nothing like going further or faster than ever before. As a beginner, it can take time to really build endurance, but it’s something that even complete beginners can do with some help. Here are some of the best beginner tips for building cycling endurance.
Build Up Gradually
The key to building endurance is to do it gradually. If you try to rush or increase distance dramatically, you risk injury, getting demotivated, and adopting a poor form which could lead to things like back pain in the longer term.
Focus on regular rides, increasing distance very gradually, and celebrating your small successes.
Try Interval and Hill Rides
Intervals and hills are both fantastic ways to build both strength and stamina, but they can also help you to push through any mental block that you might have.
For intervals, try short sprints with longer active rest rides, on a relatively flat surface. Then, try to find gentle rides with hills and mixed terrain included in your routes.
You might find it easier to find a training plan with built-in intervals, so you know that you are always pushing yourself to improve, instead of riding the same sprints all the time.
Focus on Form and Technique
Good form and technique will help you to ride more comfortably for longer and ensure that you are getting the most out of your energy expenditure. It will also reduce the risk of injury and aches and pains.
The good news is, developing good cycling form is easier as a beginner before bad habits set in and stick. For the correct form:
- Relax your shoulders.
- Keep your back straight.
- Bend your elbows and tuck them in at your sides.
- Keep your hands relaxed, don’t grip on too tight.
- Keep your knees in line with your feet.
If you have a friend who cycles, or you are part of a group (which is another great way to boost endurance!), asking someone else to check your cycling posture can be helpful, as we’re not always aware of our own positioning.
Practice Breathing Techniques
Breathing is a crucial part of any sport like cycling. If you can get your breathing right, you’ll protect your lungs from cold air, while maximizing the air that you take in without expending unnecessary energy gasping for breath. Good breathing is all about efficiency.
When you cycle, you should be breathing through your nose, and taking long, steady breaths, even when your heart rate starts to increase. Try to practice breathing through your nose in everyday life, while you are cycling, and while practicing other sports or exercises until it starts to feel natural.
Fuel Your Body
Fueling your body is another crucial element of endurance. Before a long ride, carb loading can be a great way to boost your energy levels and keep you going for longer. But generally, you should try to eat a high-protein diet.
Cycling uses specific muscles and muscle groups, but by building other muscles with cross-training, you offer these cycling muscles support. Cross-training can also improve your posture and make recovery easier. Things like swimming, and yoga, which are fairly gentle exercises are great options.
With any sport, the best way to build endurance is with practice, and cycling is no different. Get into good habits, focus on the basics of form, as well as things like speed and distance, and you’ll soon start to notice improvements.
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