The Best Cross-Training Sports for Cyclists & Mini-Contest
I love cycling as a way of getting around, and I love road biking and am enjoying mountain biking, but the thing is, cycling requires a bike. Sometimes, you just can’t go cycling, such as when you are traveling or when the weather is horrid. What’s a girl to do to keep fit for that upcoming century ride or race? The answer is “cross-training.” As Dr. Massimo (Max) Testa notes, “Cross training is becoming more and more popular. In sports medicine, it’s a way to keep you in shape when you have an injury.”
Dr. Testa, a physician and exercise physiologist who served as cycling team doctor during the Tour de France, knows the sport of cycling inside and out. I went to him to ask about the best cross-training sports for cyclists. He has two categories of cross-training sports for cyclists: one group of activities gives a similar endurance and aerobic workout to cycling so one doesn’t lose fitness, and the other group of cross-training activities gives balance to the body to make it strong in ways that cycling does not.
Cycling is an aerobic, endurance sport so all activities that trigger the cardio/pulmonary system are good. The following activities are all great to keep your heart and lungs in shape when you aren’t cycling and some will give a more intense workout than others:
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Inline Skating
Cycling works the legs as well as the heart and lungs. But it has its limitations, for example cycling is not the best sport to work on your core. It is also not an impact sport, so you need an activity to increase bone density, which can be a concern especially for women who, more than men, are prone to developing osteoporosis. Cyclists also need to add an activity that keeps their body and muscles flexible. The following are great activities or sports to integrate with cycling:
- Running, especially trail running, will train your mid-section. It is also good for keeping bone density as it is an impact sport.
- Pilates & Yoga: are excellent because both work your mid-section and back. They can make your abdomen stronger and improve your respiratory pattern which is very important on a bike. On a bike, you are limited in the way you can expand your chest as you are bent forward, so strengthening your respiratory pattern and improving the way your diaphragm is moving can improve your performance on the bike. Yoga helps your body to become more flexible and gives your muscles and joints are greater range of motion. Look for yoga classes/DVDs with exercises especially aimed at cyclists.
- Swimming: works the whole body—all the muscles. (But it is not an impact sport.)
- Cross-Country Skiing also works much of the body.
- Inline Skating works much of the body. (Very little impact benefits.)
Another Fun Contest!
Check out these great visors/cap from Headsweats! They are perfect for a summer-time cross-training workout! Headsweats gave us three for a giveaway and we will randomly choose 3 of those who make a comment on this page during the month of July and give them one as a prize! (Note: please put down a legit e-mail so I can contact you if you win!)
Congratulations to our winners: Isela, Jackie & Jeanne!
Thanks to Massimo Testa, MD. for his expertise!