The weather is getting cold and rainy, and the trails are closing because of the rain. How do you keep in shape while waiting for the Texas mountain bike trails to re-open?
I have a few tips that I have used over the past several years sure to keep your legs strong and waist trim.
1.) Join Spin Classes
Spin classes are a fun way to keep your legs spinning and your heart rate pounding during the off-season of mountain biking. Spin classes are offered by most gyms. 24 hour fitness, Lifetime Fitness, and LA Fitness are global chains that have locations across most of Texas and offer good spin classes. The class will be taught by an instructor and usually done to music to keep pace and push yourself harder. This is also a great way to stay social and meet new people with like minded interests.
The only bad thing I have found with spin classes is that it is entirely dependant on the instructor. I have had some amazing spin classes, and also some that I felt were awful. Find an instructor whose style fits you and become a regular in their classes.
2.) Invest in a Bike Trainer
A great way that I have found to keep in shape while indoors is with a bike trainer. A bike trainer allows you to put your own mountain or road bike on a wheel that gives you resistance while you pedal. You set the pace when using a trainer, it can be monotonous and boring but to spice it up there are plenty of DVD training courses that you can follow.
Bike Trainers also allow you to do interval workouts while indoors. Try something like this;
Warmup for 10 minutes
Pedal at high intensity for 2 minutes, then reduce intensity and recover for 1 minute.
Repeat for 5 rounds, this totals 15 minutes of high intensity interval training (HIIT)
Cooldown for 10 minutes
Doing interval work at high intensity really boosts your heart rate and will keep your metabolism raised for hours after you finish. HIIT or high intensity interval training is a tried and true method for getting the most results out of the shortest amount of time. Find out more by checking out this article on HIIT from Sciencedaily.com.
You may also be able to find a local bicycle shop or cycling club that hosts trainer spin classes. This winter, Bicycles Plus Coppell is offering an instructor led class where you bring your own trainer or rent one from the shop. Try and find someone offering something like this, or maybe even start your own with some of your trail buddies.
If you decide to buy a bicycle trainer, the best kind are fluid trainers like the CycleOps Fluid Indoor. They are pricey, but they will give you even resistance levels even when you change it up quickly during an interval session.
3.) Cross Train Your Core
We all prefer biking to other workouts, (thats why you’re here right?) but its not always the most practical way to keep fit. During the winter use the time off the bike to enjoy some other exercises like running, weight lifting, or yoga. While they may not be as fun, spending the winter cross training with these activities will put you in a better position to ride next season.
Running, weight lifting and yoga all strengthen your core making it easier to do everything on a bike. Everytime you pop your front tire over a rock or lean really hard into a banked turn you are using your core muscles to balance yourself out. Even your pedaling uses the core muscles to execute the full rotation. Bicycling Magazine put together a great guide to training your core and how it positively impacts your riding.
I hope these tips are helpful. Comment below and tell us how you intend to stay in shape during the winter, or join the conversation on twitter.