A Refreshing Guide to 12 Months of Indoor Cycling

Become a better, stronger, faster rider with these monthly goals.

The 12 days of Christmas are history, which means you can now turn your attention to another double-digit category—12 months of energizing, empowering indoor cycling! To keep your cycling life interesting and challenging, it helps to set different goals or to focus on diverse aspects of the workout from one month to the next. Build upon what you did the previous month and you’ll find yourself getting stronger and more powerful, both on and off the bike.

Here’s a month-to-month guide to help you do just that:

January: Build your aerobic base. By sticking with endurance rides (65 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, MHR) and interval rides at first, you’ll condition your aerobic fitness and increase your muscle stamina in the process. This will give you a solid foundation upon which to gradually add greater resistance, pace, and duration to your rides. 

February: Go cycling with your honey. You already know indoor cycling can be a positive social experience that reinforces your desire to keep coming back for more. But did you know that committing to an exercise program with your partner helps you stick with it more consistently? Research from Indiana University found that when people joined a fitness program with their spouses, they were 34 percent more likely to adhere to it a year later than married people who joined on their own.

March: Spring-clean your workouts. You can take this as a prime opportunity to break bad cycling habits.

Or if you’re convinced you don’t have any, try taking different styles of indoor cycling classes, riding solo, or using a different model of bike.  

April: Refine your pedal strokes. To improve your overall cycling efficiency—including your power output, stamina, and speed—make an effort to develop smooth, fluid pedal strokes.

They should have a streamlined motion with consistent pressure all the way around each revolution. Work on achieving this with every ride this month to freshen up your routine.

May: Stand and deliver. Focus on enhancing your ability to ride in a standing position when you’re climbing heavy hills, doing jumps, or sprinting. You’ll gain power, momentum, and more from honing your standing technique.

June: Take your indoor skills outside. Now that the weather is getting warmer, let the indoor cycling techniques you’ve been developing boost your performance on a bike outside. With your improved pedal strokes and stamina, you’ll probably find that you can ride farther and faster than you could in the past. Woo-hoo!

July: Enhance your motivation. You’re halfway through the year. Give your workouts an infusion of freshness and inspiration by coming up with your own personally motivating mantras, ones that fire up your energy, effort, and mental resolve. Then, put them into action.

August: Boost your pace. To break out of your comfort cadence, manipulate your resistance and work on pushing your pace.

In each session, try sustaining a pace that’s 10 RPMs faster than you’re used to for 20 seconds at a time, then 30 seconds at a stretch, then 40. Gradually, work up to holding that faster pace steady for a 3 to 5 minute stint.

September: Crank up your leg power and strength. Doing strength-training exercises for your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes can improve your power output, your speed, and your efficiency as a cyclist. Also, make an effort to strengthen your non-dominant leg by alternating which leg drives the pedal stroke during your indoor rides.

October: Increase your core strength. Believe it or not, your abs, lower back, and hips play a key role in generating power and force in indoor cycling. So this month dedicate yourself to improving your core strength, which will in turn enhance your posture and efficiency while riding. 

November: Sign up and train for a charity event. The winter months bring a host of charity rides such as Sweat for a Vet (in November), The Resolution by PMC (in January), Spinning Nation (in February), and Cycle for Survival (in February and March). Register with a group of friends and get ready to ride your heart out for a good cause!

December: Hone your stretching techniques. Assuming you already do the usual upper body and lower body stretches after indoor cycling workouts, it’s time to take things to the next level. Get in the habit of doing beyond-the-basic stretches for your post-cycling cool-down as well as great stretches for your back. Your body will appreciate it, especially at this hectic time of year!

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