If you want to see improvement in your cycling ability, what you need are some goals! Becoming faster, fitter and better won’t happen overnight but with continued effort and time, you will become a better cyclist.
Improving in cycling is not all that difficult providing you’re prepared to follow the advice and use your common sense.
If you really set your mind to it, your improvement is limitless. With cycling, you get more out when you put more in. Firstly, though, you need to decide what it is that you want. Do you want to manage a 50-mile long ride? Do you want to speed up your daily work commute? Do you want to take part in a bike race? Whatever it is you want to do, there is nothing stopping you from achieving this goal.
Having goals is really important. Without a goal, you’ll just be pedalling along and won’t see improvements. Decide on your goals, no matter how big or small they are. If you have a training plan and stick to it, you can definitely achieve your goals.
Of course, you can be too optimistic. Let’s face it, you won’t be able to win the Tour de France in 12 months but it’s perfectly reasonable to have a simple, achievable goal.
If you’ve read about goal-setting before, you might have heard of the acronym SMART.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and time-bound. This is quite self-explanatory. Ask yourself if your goals are these things and if they’re not, try to alter them so that they are.
One of the best things you can do is put your goals down on paper. For some people, this may seem a little too serious but it is a very useful exercise. More than anything, it shows that you are keen to become more serious with your cycling and is a good visual reminder. When something is written down in your diary or on a plan it is much more likely to happen!
If you want to get fitter and faster, you should complement your cycle training with other body conditioning activities.
Here are some other activities you could do to help you get better:
Squats are a great exercise for cyclists to do because they increase leg strength. They are also great for improving hip mobility and posture, which are both essential for cyclists.
How to do squats correctly:
- Stand upright with your feet apart – slightly more than shoulder-width. Choose somewhere in front of you to focus on while you perform the squat. This will help you keep your balance.
- Bend your knees and hips and squat down until your upper legs are horizontal. Make sure that you keep good posture – your back should be straight.
- Return to your starting positing by extending your knees and hips.
- Split Squats
Split squats are really good for cycle training because, just like your bike, they work a single leg at a time! Splits squats are a bit like lunges but the leg at the back isn’t engaged as the core and the front leg do all of the work.
How to do split squats:
- Stand with your back foot raised and your front foot in a forward position.
- Like lunges, you need to bend your hips and knees so that your thighs are parallel with the floor. Make sure your back is straight and your eyes are forward. Return to the start position by extending your knees and hips.
- Power Bridge
Many cyclists suffer from back pain and this could be due to them having a weak back. The power bridge exercise stretches hip flexors. These are often stiff for cyclists. The exercise will also strengthen the links between the glutes and the lower back.
How to do a power bridge:
- Lie on the ground with your knees bent. Try to bring your heels towards your bottom as far as they will. Place your arms flat on the floor. Your palms should be on the floor.
- Squeeze glutes tightly then raise hips off the ground. Thrust your hips up while maintaining a straight line between your shoulders and your knees. Hold this position for a few seconds and then lower to the floor.
- Front Plank
To be able to hold yourself in the plank takes a lot of endurance and strength in your core, abs and back. The plank is, therefore, one of the best exercises you can do for conditioning your core. It also has the added benefit of using hamstrings and glutes, which cyclists use a lot.
How to do a front plank:
- Position yourself as if you were going to do a push up on the ground then, with your elbows bent to 90 degrees, rest your body weight on your forearms. Make sure your back is straight. Hold this position. You can increase the time you spend in this position as you get better and stronger.