You might be an avid cycling enthusiast, but that isn’t to say that you should restrict yourself to saddle-based activity only. Whether you’re recovering from an injury, hoping to strengthen other muscle groups, or simply looking to switch things up, there are a variety of different sports that can both accompany and benefit your cycling. So, hit the brakes on the bike and check out our top picks to complement your cycling lifestyle…
While you may think that running is rather similar to cycling – both amongst the most popular forms of cardio – this high-impact sport varies significantly in its ability to build bone strength. Running will also strengthen your hamstrings, glutes and calf muscles while also improving your aerobic ability. One of the main benefits of running is that once you have a good pair of shoes, you’re set to go just about anywhere. If you find yourself without your bike – or not feeling up to a cycle – then take it as an opportunity to try a new form of exercise that is virtually cost-free.
Seasoned hikers know that there truly is nothing better than the sense of achievement that comes with having completed a challenging trek. Hiking is a great way to explore parts of nature that aren’t accessible on bike, or to spend some quality time with your close ones that may not be fond of cycling – all while getting in some excellent exercise! Hiking can be very beneficial for cyclists as it helps build some of the muscles most crucial on the bike such as glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, core, and hip muscles. Plus, the beautiful scenery you can see while hiking is not something to be missed!
After a long and strenuous ride, there’s something altogether appealing about submerging your body into cool water and taking a long swim. If your body is feeling worn out after a competition, then adding swimming to your regime is a great way of replenishing your body while still staying fit; it allows you to build up strength and maintain cardio levels, while the low impact levels are ideal for recovery. Once you’ve mastered your form, swimming can also help you with your breathing capacity and lengthen your hip flexors. This sport is a great way to train while still enjoying the feeling of something completely removed from life on the bike!
Weights / Strength training
Although pumping iron might not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking of ways to improve your cycling, it’s actually one of the most beneficial things you can add to your workout regime. Due to its low impact, cycling is not the best option for supporting bone density, which may leave you more susceptible to osteoporosis. Strength training can help by building up stronger bones, meaning you are less likely to experience pain and will be able to ride for longer. Engaging in some form of strength training also helps to tighten your core and make it more powerful, again having a massive impact on your riding stamina.
Yoga is a versatile sport that can improve your flexibility, endurance and focus. This is the perfect accompaniment to cycling as its slower pace allows you to realign your muscles, control your breathing and – vitally! – relax. By taking time out to practice yoga, you’ll soon find yourself more comfortable on your bike and notice the improvement of your breathing. Yoga is a very accessible sport as all you need is a comfortable mat and space to move. There are also plenty of tutorials online ranging from five minutes up. A quick and quality way to improve your cycling, as well as benefitting from the much-discussed stress relief that yogis love? That’s a win-win!
Before you set off on your next cycle, check out our top Irish cycling routes to try this year here.