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Fitness:  Cycling Progress & Cross-Training

Warming Up and Cooling Down for Cyclists
Cycling is an easy and fun activity that can burn a lot of calories. However, cyclists can't ignore proper preparations before hopoing on a bike and speeding away. Just like car engines, your body needs some proper warm up before it can run smoothly and prevent injuries.

There are two main objectives of warming up and cooling down. First is to enhance one’s performance capacity and second, to decrease the likelihood of injury. Warming up prepares one’s body to withstand all the rigors of cycling. Cooling down helps cyclists get back in shape to for the next ride and reduce soreness.

The Benefits of Warming up
Warming up increases the muscle temperature to what is needed for strenuous activity. It avoids being sluggish because of low muscle temperature. This happens because the increase in energy also increases flexibility, which helps the muscles move well, avoiding the chances of tearing or getting other injuries. This also increases the circulation of the blood, which brings the necessary extra oxygen and nourishment to muscles when exercising. Warming up also relieves tightness of the muscles.

The Benefits of Cooling down
Cooling down helps the body to eliminate wastes produced while doing high-intensity activities. As you work out by cycling, your body produces lactic acid, which helps you feel tired afterwards so that you would have the urge to rest. Cooling down helps burn off extra lactic acid, which ay later cause cramps and fatigue if are left in the body in high concentrations. Cooling down by stretching also helps lengthen muscles, which tend to become short and stiff after cycling.

The Process of Warming up and Cooling Down
Just 10 minutes or so of some simple warm up and cool down exercises could make a lot of difference into one’s performance and recovery.

Warming up can be as easy as walking for five minutes to meet your riding buddies, or doing some light pedaling on your way to the bike trail. Once your body has picked up heat, you should then do some stretching especially on your lower body parts, which will be doing the most work during cycling. Do leg, calf, thigh, and ankle stretches, to keep your lower extremities nimble.

If you are going to race, you need to give yourself more time to warm up. Perhaps you could pedal smoothly for 15 to 30 minutes, gradually escalating the intensity of your pedaling as the race comes near. You would want to be warmed enough for you body to sweat lightly, but not too much that you become tired even before the event. Allow your heart to pick up its rate so that it would be able to pump the right amount of blood to your entire body.

After cycling or racing, you should then allow your body to cool down slowly to normal state. Allow your body temperature to decrease and for your heart to gradually slow down.

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Cross Training – Adding Cycling to Your Fitness Regimen

Cross training is basically doing exercise in a variety of sport activities in order to reach a particular training goal. This is seen to be beneficial because it adds variety to a routine that can get boring in the long run. Furthermore, cross training helps you increase the amount of exercising you do without overtiring your muscles because you would be using different sets of muscles with the alternative exercise.

Why Cycling is Good for Cross Training
Cycling is one of the most beneficial forms of exercise. First of all, cycling is very good for one’s cardiovascular and respiratory system, since riding the bike helps one to breathe heavily without getting out of breath. Cycling has also been discovered to burn around 300 calories an hour, making it a great aerobic component to accompany your strength and resistance training.

The leg strength developed by people who cycle has also been seen to protect them from bone injuries later in life. Cycling or Spinning, even for starters, could provide drastic health improvements.

How to merge cycling into one’s fitness routine
Cycling or Spinning is not at all difficult to include in your regular fitness routine. If you are engaged in a weight-training program, chances are, your program requires you to do some cardiovascular workout at least twice or more a week. Running outdoors or on a treadmill is high-impact on the joints. Just a thirty-minute ride would already fulfill your cardiovascular requirements.

Charting your Progress
Charting your progress not only tells you how near you are to your goal, it also gives you some motivation to continue what you are doing. If you see that your cycling program works, you will gain more appetite for biking. If you see that you still need to improve in some area of your cycling routine, then you may challenge yourself to push a little harder. Keeping a log chart for your cycling program will greatly help with this purpose.

What to write in your log chart
The given items to write for charting would be your date, location, time, pace, and distance. You would want to know where you went, when you went, how long it took you to go there, and how far it is. This basic information would show your development as a cyclist. You should also record how you feel before, during, and after each ride. This will help you explain certain changes in your performance. For instance, the day you were only able to ride for a mile could be the day when, say, you fought with your partner. Such items will help you predict how you would perform in the future.

You should also note down changes that are happening in your body. Write down your weight, body measurements, fat percentage, and other signs that would tell how much cycling is doing for you. You would be surprised at how a few weeks of cycling do to your body. This would also help you motivate yourself to strive for more or to keep on going.

Where to Chart Your Progress
You can write your chart on a notebook or on a bulletin board that you see all the time. You can go hi-tech and keep a log on your PDA or cellular phone. You may also try joining some free training logs online such as Winning Stats, Bike Pro Log, or any other fitness charting services online. It does not matter where you put your chart so long as you keep track of your fitness progress.

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