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.
Rock climbing is one of the most challenging sports, especially for beginners without the necessary strength and conditioning.
Training is, of course, integral to your climbing experience: building greater muscle tone and endurance ensures better performance. Being out of shape and unprepared puts you at risk of exhaustion, straining, and injury.
Of course, you don’t have to be Vin Diesel to start climbing rocks, but you do need to condition your body to cope with the sport’s demands. Let’s check out a selection of training tips to get you in rock-ready shape.
This is an obvious training exercise, given how important lifting and pulling is when climbing.
Pull ups work your arms, core, shoulders, and back brilliantly. While these can be difficult for novices, continued practice over time will reap real rewards – just don’t push yourself too hard or too fast when starting out.
Pull up bars are available at decent prices, and are fairly easy to set-up in your home. Alternatively, your gym will have bars in place, while you may be able to find alternatives if you prefer working-out outdoors.
Head down to your local park and try some reps on the climbing frame or monkey bars.
During climbing, you’ll need to plan your routes and pause to identify the safest hand-holds. There may be times when you’re left hanging for brief periods too, and endurance is vital to maximize your safety in these situations.
Try bar hangs to build your strength. You can do this using your pull up bar or any horizontal fixture able to support your weight (check this before trying, as you may injure yourself and cause structural damage!).
To start with, try hanging with your feet off the floor for 10 seconds. From then on, add a few seconds at a time.
A staple exercise for great all-round strength and conditioning. There’s a good reason push ups continue to be incorporated into military circuits year after year!
Push ups work the chest, shoulders, biceps, triceps, and core, depending on the variation you’re doing. Proper form is key, though: spread your hands too wide or let your back sag, and you may injure yourself.
If you’ve never done these at all before, start with your knees on the ground. Over time, as you build more and more strength, graduate to full-body push ups.
Part of the push up’s beauty is that you can do it anywhere, at any time. You can even drop and do twenty before you start a climb, to get your muscles working.
While many people prefer to squat with weights, beginners should start off nice and easy using their body’s weight only.
Squats build strength in the legs, which is a must to push yourself and maintain fixed positions for long periods (as you may need to do while hunting for your next hand-hold).
Keep your back straight, raise your arms out in front of you as you descend, and move slowly to start with. Maintaining proper form is crucial.
Follow these training tips to get yourself in great basic shape before climbing. Take climbing lessons with an expert until you feel ready for the real thing, and make sure you invest in the right gear to protect yourself and your supplies in varying weather.
We all know walking can help you stay fit and healthy, but not enough of us warm-up before setting off.
No matter how well-conditioned you may be, pushing your body into a long, brisk walk or hike isn’t exactly ideal. You may over-exert yourself, strain a muscle, or become fatigued faster than you might like.
With a warm-up, your joints and muscles become more limber and less likely to be strained. You’ll also increase the flow of blood and give your muscles more oxygen, increasing your comfort and overall performance.
These are the benefits, but what are the best ways to actually warm-up for walking or hiking?
Work those Ankles
Try this first.
Stand on one leg, and lift the other in front of you, nice and steady. Now, move the raised ankle in a complete circle, leading with your toes.
After you’ve done eight circles, switch to your other leg. Perform the same routine, taking it slow until you get into the rhythm.
Swing your Legs
Next, a little something to loosen your legs, ready for a brisk walk.
Start one one leg again, and swing the other front to back, from the hip. Try to keep this as relaxed as possible, and keep your foot no more than 12 inches or so off the ground.
Aim for around 15 reps, and then move onto the other leg. You should start to feel more limber already.
Prep your Hips
This is a great little warm-up to work your hips and prepare your entire body for walking or hiking.
Start with your hands on both hips and bend your knees. Stand with your feet at hip-width apart, and keep your back straight. Now, do 10 slow circular motions with just your hips: ease forward, left, and then right again and again.
Work your Shoulders and Arms
Stay in a standing position, with both arms at your sides. Now, lift these out away from your body, to the sides, in line with your shoulders.
Take it easy with this movement: move your arms in slow backwards motions, tracing a circle with each hand.
Aim for around 20 reps backwards, and then start on forward circles. Again, be sure to use steady movements, or you may strain yourself. This is a real risk if you’re doing a warm-up straight out of bed in the morning – never underestimate just how stiff you may be.
Now that you’re a little more limber and loose, do between 10 and 20 jumping jacks.
These are obviously a little more intense than the other warm-ups on this list, so keep your movements steady. Don’t spread your legs or lift your arms too far, or too fast. Keep your back straight and face front.
Before you try these, you may want to stretch your arms and legs for 10 seconds, to minimize the risk of straining yourself even more.
Once you’ve gone through this brief but effective warm-up routine, you should feel ready to enjoy a brisk walk, no matter what terrain you’re facing.