“Condition your body and increase the resistance,” says my coach. “We will finish this bicycle marathon,” says my brother. “Enjoy the sights because after this ride, I am pretty sure you will be sore all over,” says my dad. These are the three of the most powerful men I know, all giving me a very draining but satisfying cycling workout.
I tell them that I am already tired from going back and forth to my day job whilst commuting by bicycle, but they say that commuting is different from really exercising. I then ask myself, “What the heck is the difference between cycling at a gym, getting on a road bike, and trail riding with a mountain bike?”
I have been riding my bike for as long as I can remember, and I have visited a lot of online forums that have helped me understand these cycling workouts. Turns out – there really are many differences. I cannot really specify how many calories each aspect of these workouts can burn, but I can tell the differences that really matter.
I mean, yes, calories do matter for those who want to burn off that excess fat (read here about a bicycling for weight loss), but for bike-riding enthusiasts like me, other things are important as well. Burning off the excess fat is like the icing on the cake. It all boils down to the flavor of the cake. So, what did I really learn from all those bike-riding forums and the Internet in general?
Gym Cycling Workouts
A cycling workout in a gym differs in a bunch of ways from cycling with road racing bicycles and mountain bikes. First of all, stationary bikes are used in gyms. These stationary bikes often have resistance pads that you can increase if you want to get a very good aerobic workout. Yes, you sweat just as with any other workout in or out of the gym.
There is no danger because you are in a controlled environment. You can even close your eyes while riding your stationary bike. This means that control over the bike and your alertness is not really warranted. You can even take your hands off the handle bars. The only downside is that it does not mimic real-life bicycling outdoors.
Note: If you wish to exercise at home, while riding your own bicycles, you can use a bicycle indoor training stand. Read more.
Did you know...?
Did you know that weightlifting can be very beneficial for cyclists too?
Cycling may be a primarily cardiovascular exercise, but good cyclists have powerful muscles as well. Doing weightlifting exercises like squats, deadlifts and lunges will help build up those leg muscles, giving you the strength you need for more powerful and efficient pedaling.
Road Bicycling Workouts
A cycling workout on the road has its advantages and disadvantages. First the advantages - since the road is mostly made of flat ground that sometimes has inclines and declines, leg endurance is worked on.
This means that a person spending time on a road bike will likely have more endurance than a person on a mountain bike.
The difference between road biking and gym cycling is the real-world experience, because factors that act as both advantages and disadvantages are only seen on the road. These factors include traffic. This is a disadvantage because it increases the danger that comes with road biking, but an advantage because it trains the mind and the body of the biker to be ever vigilant when cycling on the road.
Mountain Bicycling Workouts
On online forums, mountain bikers always seem to mention that whole-body strength is needed for mountain bikers. This is because the trails are highly varied. They may suddenly incline, then decline, then may swerve to the right or left.
There are times when the trails are soft and muddy, and there are times when the trails are hard and rough. And since mountain bikes have a different angular design from road bikes, stress on the upper body is also felt when riding mountain bikes. Therefor, mountain bikes train the biker's strength rather than his endurance.
- Gym Cycling - Aerobic Exercise
- Road Biking - Endurance Exercise
- Mountain Biking - Strength Exercise
Know what you want to strengthen and work on that. If you want to be well rounded and physically fit, then have a bit of every type of cycling workout.
Books About Cycling Workouts
More information about cycling workouts can be found on several informative books. Take a look at these selected books
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