Heather Black, CPT is a NASM-certified personal trainer and owner of Heather Black Fitness & Nutrition where she offers remote and in-person training and nutrition coaching.
When you're creating a fitness routine, cardio is generally a common aspect to consider. How do you plan to get your heart rate pumping? There are plenty of options to add into your weekly habits, many of which, like cycling, are continuing to grow in popularity.
Whether indoors or out, following a guided program, in a group, or on your own, there’s a reason cycling continues to grow momentum. Get ready to push the pedals and reap the benefits of this full-body workout as we guide you on everything from footwear to choosing the best two-wheeler for your endeavors.
Cycling, indoor and outdoor, works more than just your legs and glutes (although studies confirm that cycling does stimulate deep muscles in the quadriceps and hamstrings). Core, shoulders, hamstrings, and calf muscles all play a part in cycling, making it a full-body workout.
While cycling has the potential to strengthen your core, there is also evidence that improving your core strength off the bike can improve your pedaling performance. For this reason, you might consider committing to cycling as your go-to training modality or as part of a cross-training regimen.
Cycling is a low-impact exercise, meaning it is gentle on the joints and involves fluid motion. However, low-impact does not need to mean low intensity: changing gears, performing intervals, and cycling on an incline can increase the intensity of your cycling workouts.
As with any exercise, getting in some movement is better than nothing, including cycling to work. In fact, one study found that cycling to work was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and all-cause mortality. However frequently you choose to bike to work, take appropriate safety precautions.
Road cycling is a type of cycling performed on paved roads. This is different from mountain or trail biking, which is performed on more rugged outdoor terrains. Bikes for road cycling are lightweight and built for speed, while mountain bikes are built with a heavier frame and thick tires.
Aerobic exercise refers to physical activity that increases both heart rate and the body’s use of oxygen. Cycling is mostly an aerobic exercise with the ability to strengthen the heart and lungs.
A stationary bike is a bicycle that is used indoors and, as the name implies, stays in place. There are bikes for home workouts available at all points along the budget spectrum. New to cycling? Even beginners can be comfortable pedaling with the right guidance.
Cycling or spin shoes have multiple potential benefits, including better foot to pedal alignment, better glute activation, and a more comfortable ride. There are cycling shoes for every type of cycling—it's important to find the right fit to ride comfortably without worrying about your shoes.
According to the American Heart Association, your maximum heart rate can be calculated by subtracting your age from 220. Cardio Heart Rate is another term for the heart rate you achieve during cardiovascular exercise. In general, the aim with cardio exercise is to increase your heart rate safely, without exceeding your maximum heart rate.
da Silva JCL, Tarassova O, Ekblom MM, Andersson E, Rönquist G, Arndt A. Quadriceps and hamstring muscle activity during cycling as measured with intramuscular electromyography. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016;116:1807-1817. doi:10.1007/s00421-016-3428-5
Abt JP, Smoliga JM, Brick MJ, Jolly JT, Lephart SM, Fu FH. Relationship between cycling mechanics and core stability. J Strength Cond Res. 2007;21(4):1300-1304. doi:10.1519/R-21846.1
O’Donovan G, Lee IM, Hamer M, Stamatakis E. Association of “weekend warrior” and other leisure time physical activity patterns with risks for all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2017;177(3):335-342. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.8014
Celis-Morales CA, Lyall DM, Welsh P, et al. Association between active commuting and incident cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mortality: prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2017;357:j1456. doi:10.1136/bmj.j1456
Target heart rates chart. AHA.
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