Spring-Clean Your Workouts

How to tweak your current cycling routine and boost your fitness level

78267578.jpg

If you’ve been doing the same workout consistently—whether it’s running, indoor cycling, using the elliptical machine, or something else—it’s time to modify your routine and revitalize your exercise life. Otherwise, you’re in danger of courting boredom, burnout, or an overuse injury from challenging the same muscles in the same ways again and again. You’re also in danger of hitting a fitness plateau where you no longer reap the same benefits from those workouts because your body has adapted to them and your ability to build strength and stamina has stalled as a result.

(If this happens, it’s time to crank up the challenge in a new way.)

Don’t worry: None of this means you have to ditch what you’re doing entirely. A better approach is to tweak your current workouts or supplement them with new ones (or new versions of the usual ones). This way, your exercise life will get an infusion of freshness, novelty, and variety, and you’ll get a renewed sense of motivation. Here are five fun ways to spring-clean your workouts:

If you’ve been taking the same type of indoor-cycling class, day after day, try a new style. Many classes incorporate an interval style of ride, with varied drills such as speed surges, jumps, hill-climbs, sprints, and endurance stretches. But there are also plenty of strength-oriented, endurance-focused, and race-style classes you can choose from. Participating in a workout that’s out of your current comfort zone—whether it’s a fitness-oriented class or a cycling-specific class—will help you challenge your mind and muscles in new ways.

If you’re a cardiac junkie who’s hooked on cycling or running, try a mind-body workout. It may take time to get used to the pace, the poses, and the breathing techniques in a yoga or Pilates class—but these approaches will do your body and mind a world of good. Besides stretching your hard-working muscles, the techniques will help improve your posture, your breathing techniques, and your muscle strength in key areas.

This is especially helpful because if you want to be a better cyclist, indoors or out-, it’s important to develop greater strength in the muscles in your core, including your abdominals, hips, and lower back.

If taking cycling classes has become more social than physically challenging, try riding solo. This way, you’re in charge of the drills and intervals and the intensity of your ride. You can create your own playlist and map out your own workout or do different drills spontaneously. Either way, taking the DIY approach can help you push your limits in new ways that will fire up your fitness level—without the distraction of classmates.

If you’ve been riding the same model of bike, try a different one. This may not be an option at your health club or usual cycling studio but it may be worth venturing to a new venue for this. In addition to the initial Spinner® bikes that launched the indoor cycling revolution, Schwinn, Keiser, FreeMotion, RealRyder, LeMond, Reebok, and Livestrong offer a wide range of bikes for group indoor cycling classes.

Each model offers a slightly different riding experience that challenges your muscles in various ways. The RealRyder allows you to move across three ranges of motion so that you can steer, lean, and balance your body as you pedal, just as you would while riding outside.  

If you consistently pedal to nowhere in an indoor cycling studio, try riding outside. Along the way to an actual destination, you can use some of the techniques from your indoor cycling classes—jumps, sprints, hill-climbs, riding in a standing position on a flat road, and so on—while cycling outdoors. Not only will you enjoy the sights and sounds along the way, but your muscles will get a kick out of the extra challenge of using indoor cycling techniques on a bike that moves from side to side. (To get ready for the outdoor adventure, there are also specific drills you can do on an indoor cycle that will help you hone your outdoor riding skills.) Have fun!

Continue Reading