People at almost every level of fitness can try cycling to stay healthy.
From young children accompanying Mom and Dad on a leisurely ride to Grampa enjoying a Sunday trek, cycling holds universal appeal. However, if you’re looking to compete in races, master high-octane tricks, or break world records, you have to be in the best shape possible.
Why? Not only do you need strong muscles and powerful reflexes for maximum control over your bike, you also have to work on your endurance. After all, the longer you can perform at the peak of your abilities, the better your results.
You’ll need to actually get off your bike to build a tougher body, though. Check out these four exercises for a little inspiration …
Crunches to Hone your Core
Don’t confuse crunches with sit-ups. You don’t need to bring your torso upright to make maximum impact on your abs.
Instead, lie flat on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor (you might want to slip them under your bed or ask a friend to hold them in place). Put your arms behind your head (without pushing on it) or stretched forward, with your hands on your thighs.
Now, curl your torso up, slowly, towards your knees. Get your shoulders elevated around four or six inches, without actually sitting fully. Lower yourself, and repeat.
Aim for between three and five sets of 10 to start with.
Squats to Refine your Legs
Squats are a fantastic way to strengthen your calves and thighs, building explosive power. They do take a toll on your first attempts, but you’ll notice the difference to your cycling over time.
Stand with your feet in line with your hips, and your abs taut. Then, bending your hips and knees, lower to a squat position. Stop when your thighs are parallel with the floor, and then rise.
You might want to perform this with a dumbell in each hand, or with your arms out in front of you.
Aim for three sets of 12, and then stop.
Planks for your Core, Back, and Shoulders
While crunches work your core too, planks also strengthen your shoulders and lower back at the same time.
These bodyweight exercises are simple to perform, requiring no equipment. Just lie on your front, and then come up onto your forearms and toes. Tighten your abs.
Hold this position for between 10 – 20 seconds, rest, and then repeat two more times.
As you get more used to it, increase the number of seconds or add more sets.
Burpees for your Whole Body
Anyone who’s had experience with burpees may break out into a cold sweat … but don’t worry: they’re not as bad as you remember!
Start off standing, before dropping into a squat, with your fingertips on the floor in front of you. Then, press your palms flat to support your weight as you kick your legs back behind you.
You should be in position to perform a push-up, without actually doing so.
Now, bring your legs back in, adopt that squat posture again, and rise into your stance. Repeat.
This will tire you out faster than the above three exercises, so just keep going until you really feel the burn.
As you get better at this, try actually mixing-in a push-up or two, but not until you feel ready.
With the right bike, cycling can be a fantastic way to stay fit, engage with the world around you, and get your adrenaline racing. These four exercises will keep you cycling faster, further, and better – so what are you waiting for?
However, please note that if you’re not currently exercising or you’re recovering from an operation or injury, speak with your doctor before embarking on ANY of these activities.
When shopping for gear to keep you dry, you’ll see both waterproof and water-resistant products on offer.
How do you know which is best for your activities? There’s usually a price difference between both, with the designs most likely to keep you dry costing a little more. Shopping for coats, hats, pants, boots, and accessories providing maximum dryness in even the wettest weather can be tough if you’re on a budget.
However, investing in the best available leads to the best results. Your comfort, safety, and health are always worth paying for.
Let’s look at the differences between waterproof and water-resistant materials to help make that daunting shopping trip a little easier …
What is Waterproof?
Some products out there claiming to be waterproof may not actually be.
While the idea of ‘waterproof’ coats and accessories is fairly simple, the materials and the manufacturing processes involved is anything but.
To be officially classified as waterproof, any product should be able to keep the user (or any items contained within, such as in a waterproof bag) totally dry in even the heaviest downpour. Seams are typically fully-taped and outer fabrics are coated with a waterproof agent.
In specialist products, there may also be a membrane lining, which encourages better breathability. Any jacket or item of clothing featuring one of these will be much more comfortable to wear, leaving you without a build up of moisture over time.
The tiny holes put into the membrane, which allow for this breathable function, are also minute enough to prevent water getting in.
At Adamant Gear, for example, our Adamant X-Core Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack is made with 500D PVC Tarpaulin, providing completely waterproof performance in even the heaviest rain, snow, and sleet. As the seams are heat-sealed, this can keep the contents dry even after hours of constant exposure to moisture.
For anyone spending long periods in wet conditions (or where wet weather is likely), completely waterproof products will keep yourself and your goods dry. When hiking in the rain, for example, you will need to keep your map, phone, GPS device, drinks, snacks, and spare clothing safe from rain. Likewise, wearing waterproof jackets will keep you warm, dry, and comfortable no matter how much time you spend at the elements’ mercy.
Investing in coats with a breathable membrane and wind-resistance is a smart move, reducing the risk of overheating and chilly conditions.
What is Water-Resistant?
For anyone engaging in everyday activities during wet weather, water-resistant clothing and accessories may be a suitable, cost-effective investment.
Water-resistance applies to any product which has been coated with a waterproofing agent without having its seams fully-taped. As a result, water will still be able to penetrate the jacket or accessory in heavy exposure.
In the case of water-resistant jackets, these are generally best worn when going from one place to another in a hurry. They are totally unsuitable for long hikes, runs, or bike-rides in extremely wet weather.
For the dedicated outdoors-enthusiast, water-resistant gear should be your priority. No matter how you like to stay fit and enjoy your surroundings, you have to be prepared for all weathers and situations.
Now that winter’s on our doorstep, finding the motivation to keep cycling might not be quite so easy.
Depending on your location, your physical condition, and your bike itself, you may well feel daunted at the prospect of hitting that frosty road. Those of us living on hilly terrain (for example) might struggle with multiple inclines in the colder weather, while those in areas prone to floods might find their usual routes blocked off.
Still, provided you have the right gear, you can keep cycling through winter – and have a blast. To help you get the most out of your time on the saddle, we’ve put together four great tips to stay safe on your winter rides.
1: Layer Up
The right cycling clothes are important at any time of the year, but absolutely crucial in winter. You need to invest in wicking thermals to keep you moisture-free but warm at the same time, as well as waterproof top-layers. Even on crisp, bright days, you never know when an icy shower might come along.
Don’t be tempted to put on a big, paddeds jacket on the coldest days – you’ll quickly overheat through exertion. Not only can this ruin your ride just be making you uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. Instead, layer up: with a waterproof shell, a top, and a thermal underneath, you can remove garments to regulate your temperature.
2: Keep your Essentials in a Waterproof Bag
On even shorter rides, you might take a bag of gear with you. Maps, books (for a spot of leisurely reading in your favorite hideaway), snacks, and spare clothes are all handy to have on the road.
However, if a pesky shower (or, worse still, a torrential downpour) comes along, you want your bits and pieces to stay as dry as possible. A solid waterproof bag will do the trick, and these are available in a range of stylish colors.
3: Stay Hydrated, Stay Fed
Just because it’s cold enough to freeze lakes doesn’t mean you won’t work up a thirst. You’re still pushing yourself as hard as you would be in warmer weather, and while you might not start sweating quite as quickly, perspiration will still come.
Keep a couple of flasks with you, perhaps filling one with cold water and one with hot chocolate. Water will keep you hydrated, while the latter will raise your temperature a little (and taste delicious).
Keep a couple of protein bars with you, to give you an energy-boost if you start to flag, and take a snack along for a more substantial lift. A high-fiber sandwich or pasta will do the trick, releasing energy over time.
4: Light the Way
Lights are essential in winter, even if you’re riding during the middle of the day: overcast skies can make you harder to spot on the road, particularly in shaded areas.
Invest in small, rechargeable LED lights that affix to your bike: these are simple to mount and will ensure drivers see you in gloomy spots. They also provide reassurance should you stay out later than planned.
Cycling is a fantastic way to keep fit and enjoy the great outdoors all year round, so follow the above tips and you’ll have a great time!