Why Heavy Lifting Is the Winter Activity for Cyclists?
The winter season is upon us and with it comes cold weather, snowstorms, ice storms and other extreme conditions.
With all these things come many questions: “What should I wear?” “Should I take my bike out into the elements?” “How much exercise do I need to do during the winter months?”
I’m sure most of us have experienced some or all of those things at one time or another. However, there are many reasons why exercising in the winter months may not be ideal. Let’s look at them briefly:
You’re probably wearing too much clothing. You don’t want to get frostbite from your skin getting so cold that it starts to freeze off. Your clothes aren’t warm enough and they’re restricting your movement.
You’re probably riding in a jacket and pants combo. Those two items will keep you very warm but they’ll restrict your ability to move around.
Let’s face it, if you’ve ever been outside when the temperature drops below freezing, then you know how uncomfortable it can be! And while it might seem like a good idea to wear layers of clothing in order to stay warm, that just means that you won’t feel as comfortable doing any kind of activity.
So should you just sit around your house doing nothing all winter?
Of course not! You need to get out and ride your bike during the winter months in order to stay in shape. However, you need a change of clothes, a change of routine, and most importantly you need the right clothing for the job!
This is where the winter activity of weight training for cyclists comes into play. By lifting weights and focusing on a wide range of exercises that keep your body moving, you’ll be able to stay in shape without exposing yourself to freezing temperatures, snowstorms, and other potential dangers.
How does heavy lifting help you become a better cyclist?
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular benefits that come with adding this intense form of exercise into your daily routine:
Helps improve the strength in your legs. Most cyclists tend to have weak legs, or at least legs that aren’t as strong as the rest of their body. By adding heavy lifting to your routine, you’ll be able to keep your legs strong so that they can endure the constant up and down movement that comes with every pedal push.
Helps improve the endurance in your core. The core is more than just your six pack abs. It’s the center of your body, and includes everything from your chest to your knees.
By engaging in heavy lifting, you’ll be able to keep your endurance up and make sure that you can cycle for longer periods of time without getting tired.
Helps improve the endurance in your arms. Just like your legs, it’s important to keep your arms strong as well.
Because you’re constantly using them to pull back on the handlebars while you ride, which puts a lot of strain on your upper body. By keeping your arms strong, you’ll be able to handle that strain a lot better.
Helps improve your balance and coordination. When you’re lifting weights especially when you get heavier weights, you have to focus very hard on keeping your balance and making sure that you’re stable. This is great practice for riding a bike because it forces you to focus on your balance and how your body is positioned.
Now that you know about some of the benefits that come with adding heavy lifting into your routine, let’s talk about how to go about it. After all, you don’t want to start if you have no idea what you’re doing.
Fortunately, it’s not all that hard.
Make sure to lift heavy weights. You might be tempted to start off with some of the smaller weights at the beginning but that won’t do you any good. Start off with something heavy so that you’re forced to focus on your balance and how to properly move the weight, then move on to something a little lighter.
Learn proper lifting techniques. You might have used some improper lifting techniques in the past, especially if you tried some of those silly body building routines from a magazine. Make sure that you’re learning from a proper trainer so that you know exactly how to lift and which methods are safe.
If possible, find a trainer who is also a cyclist so that they can relate better to your needs.
Don’t overwork yourself. There’s a tendency for beginning lifters to overwork themselves, especially since they want to see results quickly. The thing is, your body needs time to adjust to these new stresses that you’re putting on it.
If you try to rush it, you’re going to end up causing yourself some serious problems. Listen to your body and take days off if need be so that you don’t get injured and have to waste time healing.
Those are the basics when it comes to heavy lifting and cycling. If you’re really serious about training for a cycling event such as a race, you might want to look into getting a coach. A good coach can help you a lot when it comes to getting you on the right track to success.
One thing you should be aware of however; cycling and heavy lifting really don’t mix all that well if your goal is to look good in a skin-tight spandex suit. You’re going to get big and bulky, which some people might not be too thrilled about. If that’s what you want however, then by all means go for it.
Riding a bike isn’t just for kids or fitness junkies. If you’re willing to put in the effort and learn how to do it properly, you’ll be able to get some of the best cardio vascular benefits out there. Of course, this comes with a bit of a trade off in that you’re going to have to work on your strength as well.
Fortunately, this will complement your cardio training quite nicely.
Depending on how serious you are about your biking, you may want to consider buying your own bike. While you can always just use the bikes at your local gym, if you’re going to be using one on a regular basis, it might be worth looking into getting one of your own.
Of course, this leads us into our next topic: where are you going to ride?
If you live in an area surrounded by hills and mountains, then you’re in luck since you’ll already have some areas that will give you a nice challenge. If you don’t live in such as place however, you might have to be more creative and build your own hills either inside or outside your home.
Regardless of where you’re riding, you’re still going to need the right equipment. This means that you’ll have to investigate what kind of bike is best for you. You’re also going to need the right safety gear, especially if you’re going to be riding outside since you want to protect your eyes and other exposed skin as much as possible.
Next we’ll look at some of the different cycling disciplines and see how they differ from one another.
Road cycling is the most common of the various types of cycling that are out there. It’s a sport that consists of various different cyclists riding long distances often for days at a time over various terrains and weather conditions.
While this is a popular sport in the real world, it also lends itself quite nicely to video games as well with several titles having been released over the years.
The most popular of these has to be the Tour De France series which currently consists of four different titles. The latest of these, Tour De France 2015, was released earlier this year and allows players to experience what it’s like to race in the world’s most famous cycling event.
As you’d expect, road cycling games focus on the long distance aspect of things with courses often spanning several miles and requiring you to pedal continuously. Depending on the game, your bicycle may have multiple gears which can allow you to pedal at different speeds which in turn makes it easier to climb steep hills and allows you to go faster on flat roads.
Sources & references used in this article:
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Cycling and walking for transport: Estimating net health effects from comparison of different transport mode users’ self-reported physical activity by K Veisten, S Flügel, F Ramjerdi, H Minken – Health economics review, 2011 – Springer
Serious cycling by ER Burke – 2002 – books.google.com
Exploring e‐bikes as a mode of sustainable transport: A temporal qualitative study of the perspectives of a sample of novice riders in a Canadian city by S Edge, J Dean, M Cuomo… – … Canadian Geographer/Le …, 2018 – Wiley Online Library
Smart Cycling: Successful Training and Racing for Riders of All Levels by A Baker – 1997 – books.google.com
Determinants of “optimal” cadence during cycling by L Ansley, P Cangley – European Journal of Sport Science, 2009 – Taylor & Francis
Conservative care of De Quervain’s tenosynovitis/tendinopathy in a warehouse worker and recreational cyclist: a case report by ER Howell – The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 2012 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov