Looking for a great 30-minute workout that can burn 400 calories, work multiple muscle groups and let you get some fresh air? Roll that bike out of the garage. Not only is riding good cardio exercise, it works leg and core muscles and saves you from workout boredom, whether you’re zipping through the neighborhood or trying a new spin class at the gym.
To get the most out of your cycling workouts, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Tip 1: Make sure your seat (saddle) and handlebars are in the correct positions.
To set the seat height, stand beside your bike. Align the seat with your hips, then tighten the knob.
For proper handlebar height, your hands should rest comfortably on the bars with a slight bend at the elbows and limited strain on the neck and back.
Adjust the seat forward or backward so your knees are aligned with your feet. Sit on the seat in a riding position, with your hands on the handlebars and balls of your feet over the center of the pedals. Position the pedals so they’re at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, parallel to the floor. Your forward leg knee should be directly above the center of the pedal.
Tip 2: Add variety to your workout by switching positions.
Seated – Sit lightly on the seat with your hands resting on the handle bars, not squeezing tight.
Inclined – Stand on the pedals and lean slightly forward with your hands on the ends of the handle bars. Then lean back, bringing your hips to the back of the seat while standing.
Standing – With your hands on either the outside or at the center of the handlebars, stand on the pedals.
Tip 3: Listen to music while you ride.
Music can help keep you motivated through an entire cycling workout. Create a playlist with six or seven energizing songs to get you through a 30-minute ride.
Tip 4: Always warm up and cool down.
Always start with a warm up, cycling slowly for five minutes before you begin. After your workout, cool down for five minutes, then stretch, focusing on the legs, hips and back.
Tip 5: Try interval training.
Bike riding is the perfect exercise for interval training. Use songs to guide your workout, pedaling faster with fast songs and slower with slower songs. Start with moderate tension for your warm up, and adjust settings from there. Try using the three different positions in Tip 2, adjusting tension to more difficult settings for sitting, standing and incline positions. Then decrease tension to a moderate level and stay seated, concentrating on your pedaling. Repeat the sequence eight times.
Tip 6: Stay hydrated.
Even during a short, 30-minute workout, you need to stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you and sip throughout your ride. If it’s hot outdoors, or you tend to sweat a lot, try adding electrolytes to your drink. I like Minerals Research Electrolyte Power Paks, which come in great flavors that are low in sugar and gluten free. Another favorite: GU Energy Labs Gu Brew Electrolyte Drink Tablets, which are naturally sweetened.