Posts tagged training
OK, so we all know by now that cycling is good for your health. And with the weather starting to turn over the fall, indoor bike training is the perfect way to reap these health benefits.
But if pressed to name exactly how cycling improves your overall health and fitness levels, even the most ardent cyclists of you might struggle. So we’ve done it for you, by wrapping up the 7 ways that indoor bike trainers can truly transform your health below.
Help you lose weight
Obesity is becoming a global epidemic, and the associated health consequences such as diabetes and heart disease kill hundreds of people every day. Indoor training is one of the best ways to shed pounds, especially during those off-season months when we often pick up a few extra pounds. To burn even more calories, try high-intensity interval training, or just read this post for killer weight-loss tips or this post for tips on how to use your trainer to shed some weight.
Recuperate from injury
Although most injuries require some bed-rest, if you stay immobile for too long you run a real risk of making things worse with some muscular deterioration. Low-impact exercise (with your doctor’s approval, of course) is the best way to speed up your recovery and maintain as much fitness as you can. Even a few minutes of indoor bike training can make a huge difference – it can get blood flowing nicely through the muscles to promote muscle healing.
Reduce the risk of cancer
Although we’ve poured billions of dollars into cancer research, there’s still little we know about this cruel and debilitating disease. One thing we know for sure, however, is that all studies indicate regular exercise helps to prevent cancer. General medical advice seems to point at getting physical at least a few times a week – many cycling experts recommend getting on your trainer at least three times a week to seriously reduce that cancer risk.
Improve your mental health
Research by Hillman (2007) found that elderly people who exercised regularly had a much lower chance of succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease. It’s not just the old folks who stand to benefit, though – cardiovascular exercise like cycling can improve situational awareness, boost creativity and even stave off depression. The health benefits of cycling clearly go beyond the merely physical!
Improve your cardiovascular health
High blood pressure and heart disease are far more likely to develop in those with sedentary lifestyles. If you cycle for as little as 10 minutes a day (e.g. by cycling to work), you can reduce your chances of developing both ailments by as much as 10% – that’s a great investment in anyone’s book.
Extend your stay on this planet!
Do you often lament that by the time you retire, you’ll have too few “golden years” left to reap the rewards of a lifetime’s hard work? Well, regular indoor bike trainer sessions might just be the solution to that. A study of Tour de France cyclists revealed that many professional cyclists tended to live around 5 years longer than the general population. OK, so you don’t need to register for the Tour each year, but get that trainer out for some serious training sessions while you still can!
Look better – and sexier!
Alright, so this isn’t strictly a health benefit – but having muscular legs and a toned bum definitely never hurt anyone’s health. Cycling can do wonders for your physique, and in turn for your confidence. If you’re looking to do better with members of the opposite sex, starting a rigorous cycling regime by investing in a good bike trainer may be the best way to go! And read this if you want to know the BEST time for your training sessions for optimal sexiness and good looks!
Any other benefits we might have missed? Drop us a line if you can think of any!
We know what it’s like sometimes, when those legs are feeling tired and you’re just not in the mood for an indoor training session…”tomorrow” we say, and we know that tomorrow may very well end up with exactly the same feelings and frustrations…
But we’re here to help, as always, and have come up with a quick and easy 3 step method for staying motivated over the winter. Oh yes, no more frustrated sighs when you look over at your great, ready-to-please trainer, we promise!
1. First up, head straight for the trainer!
When you get in from work, or if you straight away haul yourself out of bed in the early morning (early morning bike rides are proven to work if you want optimal sexiness and good looks!), head straight for the trainer!
Your motivational level window is fairly small, and if you find yourself distracted for any reason – like catching a glimpse of something interesting on the TV – that window is likely to disappear completely, and within no time you’ll have put that session off until tomorrow.
That’s why we say head straight for the trainer when you walk in the door from work. Have your training clothes and shoes ready at hand, and plonk yourself on your trainer as fast as you can! Be honest, sitting on your trainer is so much better for you than sitting in front of the TV…and if you’ve got your own dedicated man cave, even better!
2. Secondly, have your training program ready
If you’re just happy to pedal away for 30-45 minutes and burn some calories, that’s fine. But if you’re just a tiny bit serious, have that training program ready. It might be via the guys at Zwift, or through the virtual training sessions of CycleOps, or just an inspirational video you’ve caught on YouTube. But get that video/software lined up and ready BEFORE you start the training, and preferably before you head off to work or go to sleep at night.
Wasting minutes clicking away on the Internet or on your hard drive is a sure-fire way to lose that motivation – so be prepared!
3. Lastly, be honest with yourself and your goals
If those missed training sessions are piling up, and you’re really struggling to invoke any motivation at all, it may be the time to sit back and think about exactly what it is you want from your indoor cycling session. What are your goals? Your cycling ambitions? If you’re struggling to even look at your trainer, it might be the time to take a week’s holiday and just forget about it while you take stock of what it is you want from your trainer.
BUT add a note to your calendar/diary that in a week’s time you’ll be back, ready and motivated!
GOOD LUCK – AND STAY MOTIVATED!
If you’re aiming to stay fit over the winter months, you’ll probably have your stationary bike stand set up something like in the image below. Or perhaps not.
You may well be motivated for those upcoming winter sessions – and if you’re not, try checking out some of these videos for some inspiration – but making sure you’ve got the perfect environment is a big part in getting the most out of your training.
We’d highly recommend something like the image below if you can, but obviously, each to their own. We’d also probably replace the phone book with a proper riser block, and the towel on the bike frame with a sweat guard, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers!
How do YOU set up for the winter?
If you’re looking for some Spring training tips to really improve your hill-climbing, then this is the video for you.
The video is from the impressive CycleCore (aka Graeme Street), who has some awesome training videos (another one we featured here).
The clip features THREE awesome tips for some high intensity hill climbing, including the Climbing Energy Ass Kicker technique – yes, check out the video below to understand more! And yes, his man cave probably needs a bit of work…
And yes, that’s an ass-kicking Kurt Kinetic trainer taking a beating in the video!
We know what it’s like, working hard all day and then trying to squeeze in some family time with the little ones AND a session or two on our indoor trainer. It’s really not that easy, and definitely a strain on your time and energy banks, which are constantly being eroded all day long.
Which is why we really need to worry about getting the maximum nutritional value we can from the meals we do manage to squeeze into our daily frenzy. Especially for those of us hitting the open road or sneaking in a trainer session or two.
There are plenty of nutritional tips for getting maximum performance or even for dieting while training, but we’ve come up with FIVE awesome tips that every cyclist can incorporate into their daily training habits.
In no particular order…
Start the day with oats
Oats are the perfect breakfast fuel for many people, and especially us cyclists. Thanks to the slow-release of carbohydrates and fairly low sugar (especially when compared with regular cereals), they really are the fuel your body needs.
Our tip: Soak some oats overnight in yogurt (the acidic content of the yogurt helps you increase your intake of iron), and then add pretty much whatever you like. Bananas are great and also an excellent source of energy, and you can top it off with raisins, blueberries and even peanut butter for even more energy.
We all remember the time when our parents told us “those greens are good for you!”, as we reluctantly pushed various green, horrible-looking vegetables around our dinner plate. But adding a handful of greens to your dinner (and hey, if you can create a smoothie drink with greens like spinach, all the power to you) boosts the antioxidant levels of your food, which will assist post-exercise recovery. In one study we came across from the University of Warwick, gym goers that ate a daily dose of watercress experienced less DNA damage post exercise.
Frozen beats fast
It might surprise some of you, but research indicates that frozen food has more nutrient value than food stored in the fridge. From a 2014 survey (revealed at the conference of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics), it was discovered that those eating frozen foods ate less calories, some 250 calories less per day in fact. They also ate more fiber, and even more Vitamin A, compared with those who went some sort of fast food.
Oh yes, surprising indeed. What is even more awesome is the fact that frozen fruits and vegetables actually contain as many if not more nutrients as fresh, particularly if they are frozen soon after harvesting. A survey conducted by a UK university in 2013 shows that the nutrients in frozen berries, beans, peas, sweetcorn and cauliflower were actually higher than those which were stored in a fridge for 3 days.
The nutritional value of a freshly made smoothie has been known for some time (we got hooked after a visit to Thailand and waking up to smoothies every morning). What we’d recommend is preparing a variety of chopped fruits and veggies and storing them in freezer bags until needed. Don’t forget to add some greens (see the Go Green section above!), especially spinach, which we’ve found has worked well in smoothies. Then whenever you need them just pull them out of the freezer, blend them, and you’ve got yourself a tasty, nutritional treat!
More of an energy AND time saver, this tip is one of our faves and much implemented! Whenever you cook up something, think double. Basically, you’re going to double the portions you cook, rather than just worry about the immediate meal. For example, if you’re cooking up some pasta, double the portion; tomorrow you can use the remaining portion in a pasta salad, or reheat it and throw in some tuna and tomato puree. Or if chili is your poison, make extra portions so you can use the next day, either by serving in wraps with guacamole and salsa, or spooning some into/onto a baked potato.
Everyday foods like eggs can also be saved in the fridge for a week. So boil up a few at the start of the week and you’ll have yourselves plenty of eggy options through the week (remember that 3 eggs will give you your recommended 20g of protein recommended for post-exercise recovery).
To cut a long story short, there are some great nutritional ways to maximize your training program. We hope these are a great starting point for you on your way to indoor trainer glory!
Getting ready for an indoor training session is always about the preparation (heck, even getting yourself motivated!). There are always things you need to do before starting – but what about the things you shouldn’t do? The things that might just screw up your training session completely…?
Well, here are FIVE things we feel you should NEVER do before a training session if you really want to get something out of it…
Eat high-fiber and fatty foods
It might seem like a good idea, but high-fiber or fatty foods before a training session aren’t going to do you any good. They are less easily broken down by your digestive system, so will likely be sitting in your stomach when you start training. Something that will probably make you feel a little sick after a few minutes. A better alternative is to go for carbs or proteins, which will help your muscles gain a bit more energy.
Making sure your bike is in peak condition, whether you’re taking it outdoors or indoors, is always a must. Of course, the potential for disaster on an indoor route is much less obvious, but the need for a pre-ride checkup is still paramount. Nothing can be more annoying than starting out on a session and finding your gear changes are all over the place because somebody (ahem…) didn’t apply some oil…
Drink a LOT of water
If you haven’t had a drink of water prior to starting your session, it’s often tempting to glug down a glass or two, especially if your heating is on full blast (or the summer heat has already got you sweating). Just don’t do it. Your stomach and liver can only process so much water at once, so they will struggle to get rid of that excess water, resulting in untimely bathroom breaks. While riding, we’d recommend something like a few sips every 15 minutes or so.
DO NOT have a beer prior to starting your session. OK, we did mention that carbs are a preferred choice of pre-ride nutrients, but the complete lack of nutrients in a beer will leave your liver working overtime, struggling to convert glucose into glycogen, which is the energy source your muscles need. And if you’re like us, we like a nice cold beer after a particularly hard session, just go easy on the cold ones and have something to eat before you drink.
Perform too many warm-up stretches
If you thought that stretching and limbering up before a session was a good thing, think again. Stretching might not a terrible thing, and we’d recommend 3 or 4 quick stretches to get the blood flowing to those less-used joints, but do not overdo it. Instead, start your ride with a 10 minute warm-up session. You don’t have to push too hard, just get those legs moving and the blood pumping and you’ll be good to go.
We posted this video a while back and know that many of you enjoyed it, so here’s another one from the boys at CTXC, who’ll have your legs pumping in no time!
This video lasts for 60 minutes in total, including a 10 minute warm up and 3 minute warm down, so be prepared to sweat! The music will certainly keep you in the groove and the camera angle and street views will have you feeling as if you’re out there on the road with them!
Load this one on your TV/laptop, turn the volume up, and start pedaling!