5 Ways to Cross Train for Fitness Gains in 2017 

February 16, 2017
Cross train with a Fat Bike from BikeParts.com

Cross train with a Fat Bike from BikeParts.com

Whether you’re recovering from an injury, giving your body a break, or just finding a way to stay fit through the winter months, diversifying your activity is a great way to keep things interesting and your body bike-ready.

It’s important to fuel your desire for your sport.  One way to do that is by not losing interest in your routine—or even the sport itself. You need variety, and you need to have fun.  Hence, enter the picture for cross training!   Following are our cross training tips for fun and fitness gains. 

  1. Running – Some question if running is good for cyclist. Fortunately, it is!  Running is good for you whether you are a road cyclist, mountain bike cyclist, or cyclocross cyclist.  The post, Is Running Good for Cyclist shares more in detail, but the bottom line is, running adds extra gains when used as a cross training aid. 
  2. Yoga – Some of the most elite cyclists use yoga as part of a successful training program, including 2012 Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins’ benefits from the focus it brings to his cycling, while others, such as pro mountain biker and Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, use yoga to gain strength. From power to endurance, athletes at all levels are incorporating yoga to gain an edge over the competition, and prevent injury.  The next question – how to get started? Check out our post, Yoga and Cycling: What’s In It For You? for ideas and inspiration. 
  3. Hiking – Hiking is a great way to get your nature fix while mixing in a little exercise.  Hiking helps build up your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, core, and hip muscles—crucial muscles that can help your riding.  As a bonus, it helps with bone density because it’s a weight-bearing exercise. Aim for shorter and longer hikes to mix it up. 
  4. Strength training – For some cyclists, strength training is a welcomed part of the training process; however, for others, it is a necessary evil. Many cyclist wonder if they should train year round?  Answering these questions, the post, Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists  states , “one of the main goals with sport-specific strength training is to target your prime movers as well as the assistance muscles that support your prime movers. With proper strength training, each time you press on the pedal, your primary group of muscles (those that take on the majority of the load) will be stronger and have a stronger group of assisting muscles to help produce power. Since you are only as strong as your weakest link, the stronger system you build as a whole, the more potential you have for cycling specific gains.  For ideas and inspiration on strength training, read our post, Why Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists Matters.  
  5. Bike parts – Hmmm? You might be wondering, how does cross training apply to bike parts? Well, consider doing different types of workouts and rides on different bikes.  Use your road bike for intervals, your mountain bike in the nastier weather and to do drills to improve bike handling, and race your fat bike on the snowy days.  Mixing it up keeps it fresh!

Get started cross training to make 2017 one of your best years yet! 


Motivation and Planning – The Key to Making Cycling Resolutions Stick 

January 7, 2016

Make it Happen in 2016It’s tough being a bike rider from January through late March. The holidays are over, the winter weather is in full swing and the idea of keeping up the motivation to exercise on a cold winter day instead of curling up under a warm blanket on the sofa can be difficult. Sometimes lack of motivation rears its ugly head during these challenging times despite our best efforts to press on.  Yet many cyclists, both competitive and recreational, have committed to New Year resolutions but are battling regular demons whether that is general fatigue, lack of time, seasonal illness or just plain boredom.  What can a cyclist do?

Granted, the amount of downtime you can afford to take in winter depends on your goals for the coming year. If you have a century ride, a bike trip, or a hard race scheduled for June or July, you can probably get away with a layoff.  On the other hand, if an athlete wants to maintain fitness over the winter it it’s important to you get your motivation in gear now to make these gains and keep your cycling training on track.  Here’s how.

Define your goals.  What do you want to accomplish in 2016?  When? How do you know you’ve reached your goals?  Making SMART  (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound) goals not only boosts your chances of attaining your goals, but you also become a better cyclist in the process.  The trick is to really dial those goals in. As in, a goal to consistently hitting heart rate zones or power zones for specific workout.  Use cycling accessories that are available to you – as in power meters and /or heart rate monitors to provide objective feedback.  Our post, The Best Training Aids to Launch into Spring Cycling, dives into the benefits of training with power. You may also want to check out our post, Heart Rate Training – What You Need to Know for our staff picks at Peak Cycles Bike Shop. Based on your goals, you can then get an action plan together by defining your training objectives.

Define your training objectives.  Now that you have your sights set for some events in 2016, it’s time to take inventory of your abilities to meet your goals for these events. What are your strengths?  What are your weaknesses?  For every area of improvement, decide what activity is needed to improve that.  If you have poor bike handling skills, then schedule time each week for bike drills.  If your core is week, schedule time for yoga or strength training. And, if you are like most cyclist, you could use a little stretching. Make time for stretching to improve your flexibility.

Define your approach.  Get a game plan together of how you plan to train and race.  Again, taking stock of last year’s performances, where can you improve?  Some cyclist focus exclusively on race day performance and evaluate results on a single day. However, take a look at how the days leading up to your event impacted the result.  How was you bike nutrition? How was your sleep? Did you have a race strategy in place? Were you familiar with the logistics of the event, as well as, the course profile itself?  All of these factors impact day of results.  Take time now to review and plan ahead.  Experiment with new ideas, products, and approaches. As in, maybe try a new on bike nutrition product. Experiment with different bike parts and bike components.  Consider designing and refining a pre-event routine, like a race day ritual.  This thoughtful process brings a fresh approach to 2016 and keeps you motivated through the winter months.

Ultimately, motivation for keeping your resolutions is not something that can be given to you. Rather, motivation must ultimately come from within.  Just like the passion you have for cycling.  Dig deep, find what inspires you, connect with that and pedal your way to a successful 2016 cycling season.  Happy New Year friends!


A Different Take On the Benefits of Training Indoors

February 26, 2015

2014 Giant Trance Adv. 1 27.5-1It’s winter. It’s cold. There’s snow on the ground.  And, when the snow melts, it’s still cold – and wet. Many brave winter cycling and enjoy it with layering and a designated winter bike to ride. But, most of us suffer inside.  The first few weeks of indoor training seems to be bearable; however, as the weeks continue without any hopes of prolonged outdoor riding in sight, the indoor workouts get shorter.  Or, they don’t happen at all.  The problem is, consistency in training is critical to prepare your body for the physical stresses of the season ahead.

How do you make peace with indoor training?  How can indoor training actually support consistency in training?

It may seem obvious, but scheduling workouts on the same day every week will help with consistency.  By creating a repeating schedule that you know works for you you minimize the chances to missing a workout. The post, 4 Habits to Increase Your Consistency, offers more suggestions on increasing consistency, such as, being purposeful, following your plan as best as possible, and getting in shorter rides when you have less time to train.

But motivation is key to maintaining consistency.  When lack of training motivation rears its ugly head, you don’t have to be a victim to it, take action.  The post, Surviving the Winter as a Cyclist, shares some great “fortune cookie wisdom” in that the hardest part is just getting started.  “Whether it’s starting your workout for the day, or jumping back into training after you’ve been “off the wagon” for a while, getting going is tough. That’s the law of inertia. An object at rest wants to stay at rest. But on the flip side, once an object is in motion, it wants to stay in motion.  The key here – start pedaling.  Make a time commitment to stay on the bike for 30 minutes to see how you feel.  By then, most likely you’ll be into the ride and lack of motivation is disappearing.

If cycling indoors just isn’t your thing, accept it.  But don’t give up! Trade saddle time for gym time to gain core strength.  The primary focus when it comes to strength exercises for cyclists is to train in a similar motion to cycling with lower and upper body, while increasing overall core strength and muscular endurance. Check out The Best Strength Exercises for Cyclists or 7 Hip and Core Exercises for Endurance Athletes to get you started and also, to keep you motivated through the winter months.

You may also consider doing yoga.  In cycling, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hips never rest. As a result, riders often have overdeveloped quadriceps and tight hamstrings, which can pull the hips out of alignment. Also, a cyclist’s spine is constantly flexed forward. If proper form isn’t maintained, it can result in muscle pain and strain in the back and shoulders. Yoga helps ease the tightness, creating core strength, and aligning the spine.  Even if you aren’t into yoga, there are 3 poses you should practice.

When you think about it, indoor training doesn’t have to be as bad as you think.  Options are available.  And, you may just give winter riding another chance too!  Winter riding can be equally as fun as Summer riding given you have the right cycling apparel, you know how to dress for winter riding, and you have the right bike parts in your winter toolkit.


Use Support Goals to Make Fitness Gains Through the End of the Year 

November 6, 2014

Halloween has come and gone.  Daylight savings time has ended.  Ugh, the dreaded winter months will soon be upon us.  Keeping up the motivation to exercise on a cold winter day instead of curling up under a warm blanket on the sofa can be difficult, not to mention the allure of the holidays.  All distractions pulling our energy and focus everywhere but the bike.

Yet, there are ways to make the transition through the Fall and Winter seasons work.  Some use cyclocross to maintain or gain fitness; others use technology as a means to boost motivation.  While others, think a little outside the box and choose to focus on support goals.  You might be wondering what the heck is a support goal?  Supportive goals are those activities that are indirectly related to your cycling yet can positively impact your performance.  They are oftentimes activities that are neglected during the season.  The Fall and Winter months are ideal to opt to focus on supportive goals.  Here’s why.

Selecting a goal to focus outside of the scope of your general cycling regimen can be refreshing and help you feel like you are still on your game.  These goals can be less time intensive allowing you to enjoy more family or social time.  Check out these support goals for ideas.  Consider selecting one to focus on for the month of November and add another one to focus on for the month of December.  Before you know it, you’ll be moving into 2015 refreshed and energized with added gains.

Build up your core with core exercises.  For some cyclists, strength training is a welcomed part of the training process; however, for others, it is a necessary evil. Yet, to avoid injury as well as get stronger on the bike, strength training is becoming a critical aspect of year round training.  The best way to train all parts of the body is through working with a full range of motion while strength training.  Dial in the best core exercises for you by reading Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists.

Improve your flexibility.  Consider doing yoga.  In cycling, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hips never rest. As a result, riders often have overdeveloped quadriceps and tight hamstrings, which can pull the hips out of alignment. Also, a cyclist’s spine is constantly flexed forward. If proper form isn’t maintained, it can result in muscle pain and strain in the back and shoulders. Yoga helps ease the tightness, creating core strength, and aligning the spine.  Even if you aren’t into yoga, there are 3 poses you should practice.

Improve your body image.    As athletes, many have negative self conversations that impact how they feel about themselves and ultimately, affect performance. Learn the Three Steps to Having a Healthy Body Image and move into 2015 feeling better about yourself.  It’s important to be healthy, be fit, and be proud of who you are.

Ultimately, if all else fails, remember, the Holiday season is right around the corner! Nothing inspires cycling more than getting a new bike, purchasing some new cycling accessories or getting some new cycling apparel to wear.  Better yet, why not add some support goals AND get some new bike parts?!


Smart Ways to Stop Sabotaging Your Late Season Training

September 25, 2014

www.bikeparts.com There’s a saying in the cycling world, “the off season is where you can make the greatest gains” and at Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop, we couldn’t agree more. The off season is a time when cyclist can work on  weaknesses without having to worry about performance in upcoming group rides and races.   However, there are ways to sabotage the gains.

According to the post, 10 Things Endurance Athletes Need to Stop Doing, cyclist should stop ignoring recovery, stop doing other athlete’s workouts, stop ignoring your diet and your weight and stop ignoring technology in your workouts.  Another saboteur are headphones.  The post, Seven Reasons to Take Off Your Headphones, questions if listening to music while training actually helps or hinders results.  Unfortunately, knowing what not to do is only half the battle.  The other half is knowing what to do.

Making the most of fall season training is about keeping it fresh, trying something new, and also, targeting some fitness goals. You can start to make gains by focusing on recovery after your workouts.  When you think about it, training is all about stressing your body with hard workouts, and then letting your body adapt to that load. If you do not allow your body to recover and adapt to the training load you’ve imposed on it, you simply will not be able to train and stress your body as hard the next workout.  While many riders understand that recovery between workouts is key to building fitness, recovery is also a commonly overlooked injury prevention tool. Recovery, defined as stretching, hydrating, and resting, are traditional tools used by athletes.  Some opt for compression gear, as in socks or tights, which are designed to improve recovery and aid in overall sports performance.  Late season is a great time to test out new products and evaluate how your body responds.

Building on that – don’t let the hard work you’ve gained this year fall by the wayside!  As your training volume and intensity declines, it’s a good idea to begin paying attention to your nutrition and weight.  As noted in our post, Top 5 Apps for Cyclists for Off-Season Fitness Gains, managing your training and nutrition in the off-season can be manageable and can mean the difference between winning and losing during the 2015 cycling season.

Other suggestions for late season gains include strength training and yoga.  Year-Round Strength Training for Cyclists Matters. Since you are only as strong as your weakest link, the stronger system you build as a whole, the more potential you have for cycling specific gains.  And there’s a lot to be said for yoga.  Cyclists need to focus on leg strength, which many poses in yoga target, but they also need to focus on flexibility and lower back strength.  All key elements in extending the fitness gains you’ve made through the current year.

Finally, keep it fresh and fun. The Fall season can be a great opportunity to get new bike parts.  During the season, the focus is on riding; whereas during the Fall, there’s more time for mental wanderings and fun! Check out our daily closeouts and overstock items to spark renewed interest in your cycling program.


Mid Season Cycling Tips for Staying Healthy and Strong

July 17, 2014
John Polli racing strong and healthy.

John Polli racing strong and healthy.

Enthusiastic recreational riders and competitive athletes can make mid season training errors.  Namely, taking on too much physical activity, going too fast, exercising for too long or simply doing too much of one type of physical activity can strain your muscles and lead to an overuse injury. It’s easy to do during the summer months as the season beckons us to participate in outdoor activities. Yet, there are ways to enjoy ourselves and still stay strong all year long.

Pay attention to your equipment.  Yes, it’s true.  The right bike parts can make a difference in injury prevention.  A good bike fit  can make all the difference as well.  Periodically, review your setup.  Fit impacts comfort but also technique which is crucial to preventing overuse injuries.  Your body’s position on the bike affects how you ride. It affects how much power you can efficiently deliver to the pedals. It affects how comfortable you are on the bike. Bottom line, be mindful of your bike components and bike parts.

Strength train the whole year through.  Year round strength training matters. “One of the main goals with sport-specific strength training is to target your prime movers as well as the assistance muscles that support your prime movers. With proper strength training, each time you press on the pedal, your primary group of muscles (those that take on the majority of the load) will be stronger and have a stronger group of assisting muscles to help produce power. Since you are only as strong as your weakest link, the stronger system you build as a whole, the more potential you have for cycling specific gains.”

Add yoga to your fitness routine.  Some of the most elite cyclists use yoga as part of a successful training program, including 2012 Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins.  According to the post, Yoga for Cyclist, cyclists need to focus on leg strength, which many poses in yoga target, but they also need to focus on flexibility and lower back strength.

Rest and recover.  Plan a day of rest once a week into your training schedule. No running, biking, swimming or strength training. Your body needs a day to recover. It will not hurt your performance, but will actually help it and is critical in muscle recovery.

Ultimately, training is all about stressing your body with hard workouts, and then letting your body adapt to that load.  The summer months invite us all to push the limits but with a little mindfulness, you can balance pushing the limits while staying healthy and strong.


What’s It Take to Ride Like a Tour Rider?

July 10, 2014
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USA Pro Challenge Stage 7 starting in Golden, CO

Pro cyclists are often all thought to be blessed with nature’s special gifts – a huge heart, enormous lungs and infinite leg power.  Yet, in reality this is hardly the case. The truth is that most of us have the physiology to be a decent racer if we trained as much as they do.  Granted, most of us don’t have the time or the resources available to pro cyclists but we can all optimize the talents bestowed upon us by training properly.  Here’s how.

Start with the basics.  Have good equipment.  Meaning, have a bike that fits, get the right bike parts, and wear the appropriate cycling accessories. It may seem obvious but even small things add up. This is an easy one to dial in, so get it right.

Next, focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t.  Some argue work and family commitments distract from proper training but there are other elements you can control.  You can control your the quality of your workouts, your bike technique, and your recovery.  When training, focus your efforts using power and heart rate. Both play a key role in training and you can use both to target weaknesses and strengths.  Dial in your nutrition on an off the bike so that you are properly fueled going into the workout and can bring your best effort to each training session.  Also, schedule specific workouts to build fitness, improve your climbing technique and bike skills.

While it may seem counter intuitive, easy rides or time off the bike is equally as important as training time.  The post, Four Ways to Recover Like a Tour Rider, suggests ways to conserve energy while riding in the peleton (aka your group ride) and use your cycling buddies as teammates to pace you and shield you from the elements.

A little R&R or active recovery is good too.  Some of the most elite cyclists use yoga as part of a successful training program, including 2012 Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins. Wiggins’ benefits from the focus it brings to his cycling, while others, such as pro mountain biker and Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, use yoga to gain strength. From power to endurance, athletes at all levels are incorporating yoga to gain an edge over the competition, and prevent injury.

You may not make it as a Tour rider but you sure can embrace the training elements of a Tour rider lifestyle.  And, if all else fails, put on your best suffer face!