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6 Winter Conditioning Tips for Cyclists

6 Winter Conditioning Tips for Cyclists

by: Dru Ryan
Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 5:08am
6 Winter Conditioning Tips for Cyclists

Dru Ryan. 

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6 Winter Conditioning Tips for Cyclists
Best Indoor Cycling Instructors for Those Who Ride Outside
Spin Class to Riding Outdoors: 6 Physical Tips to Improve on the Bike
Cycling Indoors This Winter? 4 Tips for Staying Mentally Focused
Measure Your Performance in a DC Cycling Studio
Best Activity Trackers for Indoor Cycling
15 Tips for Washington DC Bike Commuters
Understanding Your Performance in Spin Class
5 Washington DC Area Bike Trails for the Indoor Cyclist Who Wants To Ride Outside
How Watching the Tour de France Can Make you a Better Cyclist


I got into indoor cycling to avoid the winter cold.  Truth be told, you can spend about $500 on the proper gear to keep you warm (I really like Etxeondo's cold weather line), but riding inside is cheaper and you don't have to worry about the ice.  If you want to stay in shape during the winter, I can offer a few tips:

1.  Jump on the indoor bike at least twice a week.  
I like to use the winter months to work on my pedal technique and increase my cadence.  60-75 minutes will work up a good sweat and help you build skills that will transfer to the outdoor season.

2.  Cross-train when not riding.  
If you belong to a gym, Jumping on the elliptical, the rowing machine, or the stairmaster all engage muscles needed when cycling.  In addition to the cardio workout, you'll see the benefit once you jump back on the bike.  Additionally, take some time to focus on a weak part of your body.  For me it's my hamstrings.  Strengthen that part in the off-season and see the results come spring

3.  Work on your core...
I am a big fan of the stability ball as well as TRX.  Both can be done from home or in a gym.  A strong core prevents you from leaning heavily on the handlebars.  Thus, you can put more energy into the pedals and ride more efficiently.  Tom Danielson has a great book about the importance of core work when cycling.

4.  Take a long slow ride every other week.  
Training below threshold is an important part of your cycling regimen.  Your body reacts differently to a low intensity effort (i.e. zone 2) and it actually will improve your ability to maintain at higher intensities. You can define long for yourself, but I'd say at least two hours.

5.  Adjust your caloric intake.
Pro cyclist count every calorie. You don't need to be that extreme, but you don't want to eat the same in the winter as you do during the times of year when you are more active. Don't starve yourself, but be aware of the 'calories in vs calories burned principle.'  If you're not burning the same number of calories, don't be surprised when those pants start to feel tight.

6.  Buy an activity tracker.  
Whether a Fitbit, Garmin VivoFit, NikeFuel Band, Apple Watch, or Samsung Gear, each help quantify your level of activity throughout the day.  Personally, I use a Nike FuelBand and the numbers help me quantify my level of effort throughout the day.  I enjoy having that sense of accomplishment at the end of the day when I reach my goal.

Editor's note: Don't miss Dru's brand new Featured Fitness Instructor interview!

About the Author

Dru Ryan is a daily bike commuter, indoor cycling coach (EquinoxCrunch, Mint DC) and road cyclist who averages 200 miles a week. Follow Dru on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook or visit his website