5 Tips To Improve Your Cycling Fitness & Skills
As the summer comes to an end, the cooler weather is perfect for those longer cycle rides. Whether you’re cycling for fitness or simply want to take advantage of being outdoors, you can refine your technique and improve your conditioning using an indoor cycle.
With this in mind, here are our top 5 tips for cycling that will help you make the most of your time at EVO.
5 tips for cycling
1. Pay attention to the set up
There are 4 things to set up to optimize posture and performance, and minimize risk of injury:
- saddle height
- saddle fore/aft
- handlebar height
- handlebar fore/aft
First set the saddle to be level with top of pelvis (approximately). Sit on the bike and check that as you pedal, your leg remains slightly bent at the bottom of the down stroke. If the leg is straight at the bottom, then lower the seat slightly.
Next place the pedals in a 3/9 o’clock position – your knee should be positioned above the middle of the pedal. Adjust the fore/aft position of the saddle as necessary.
Now check the space between the front of the saddle and the handlebar – it should be the length of your elbow to fingers.
Finally, ensure that the handlebar height is sufficient to give a 90 degree bend at the hips, when the hands are on the bars.
2. Power = Performance
Many indoor cycles will now measure how hard you’re working, shown in Watts. Watts are a unit of measurement used in cycling training to measure your power output during riding. Anytime you increase your speed, acceleration or force, your power output will increase, giving you effective feedback on how hard you are working. While cadence can vary during a ride, power is an overall number that focuses on intensity and duration. If you’re looking to improve stamina and endurance, this is the metric for you.
3. Technique is everything
Just like any other movement, there is a technique to pedalling. In simple terms, pedalling is made up of two parts: the down stroke and up stroke. For balanced performance, the quadriceps muscles dominate on the down stroke, while the hamstrings ‘pull’ the leg on the up stroke. For many, this technique has never been taught, and so they end up overusing the quads and under-using the hamstrings – leading to imbalances and increased risk of injury. At EVO, you can use the WattBike to accurately measure your pedalling technique and optimize your performance.
4. Find the rhythm
Cadence can be defined as the rate at which you turn the pedals on a bike. Focusing on increasing your overall cadence will improve your speed and reduce your race time. For distance conditioning, keeping a steady minimum cadence of 90rpm will improve your pacing ability, allowing you to maintain consistent speeds throughout your cycling training.
5. Get out of the saddle
Although indoor cycling is on a level track, you can simulate hill climbs, by coming out of the saddle. This will help to improve leg strength and endurance. Think about adding short bursts of speed out of the saddle (increased cadence and resistance) to your cycling training as well as longer bouts of standing (same cadence and resistance).