While I love riding my bike, there is a time when I think you should get off of it – I’m a big fan of cross training for cardio in the off season. I think that too many riders get hung up on being on a bike, any bike, and as a result end up exposing themselves to too many overuse injuries.
For example, spin classes become a popular thing for mountain bikers in the off season. They are indoors, you’re on a “bike” and you have someone leading you through a workout…what’s not to love?
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of spin classes. They are like aerobics classes where you are ultimately limited by doing a slightly different version of the same 45 minute workout every time. There is little in the way of progressive overload or ways to progress the workout – eventually you just stagnate and are literally spinning your wheels while getting nothing in return.
I encourage people to get off the bike for a while and do bodyweight interval workouts. By using bodyweight based exercises you can advance the exercises by adding some external resistance like a dumbbell and you can change work to rest ratios to keep progressing the workouts and seeing results.
Plus, you get out of the repetitive, limited range of motion we use on our bikes and expose the body to different movements and challenges. This will help you avoid overuse injuries to the knees and low back while also providing a more challenging cardio workout – doing movements you are not used to will create a bigger cardio demand than simply doing a movement your body is extremely familiar with.
Last week I busted out a special little circuit I called The Nightmare Before Christmas and I think you’ll find it a fun way to get off the bike while developing some serious cardio:
Exercise #1: Jump Rope
Exercise #2: Burpees
Exercise #3: Mountain Climbers
Exercise #4: Reverse Lunges
Go for 45 seconds and then rest for 15 seconds while you switch stations. Go through this circuit 3 times, rest 3 minutes and then do it again…if you can.
You can make it harder by holding dumbbells for your burpees (weighted burpees are killer!) and for the reverse lunges.
So, next time your itching to get some cardio in skip the spin class and try this cardio circuit out – I’m sure you’ll find it to be far more challenging than you expect and it will give you better overall results in less time.