A well-known cyclist recently posted in her social media account:

“Today I ran 8 miles and went to yoga and did 75 push-ups and planked for 8 minutes and jumped rope for 20. I’m trying to get in shape. Can you tell? Maybe it’s almost time to get back on my bike for a long ride.”

Yes, Lael Wilcox cross-trains. Do you? In training for a cycling event do you focus solely on cycling? Or should you train using other sports, such as running weight lifting, as well? Cross-Training can help benefit any athlete, especially a cyclist. Even though most cyclists know the benefits of cross-training and its importance, many simply don’t add it into their regular workout. Understanding cross-training, and how it can help you reach your cycling goals, is important and we are here to help.

What your goals are and what type of cycling your doing can determine what type of cross-training you should include in your training. The best way to nail it down is by identifying what type of athlete you are, what your goals are, and how that training is going to benefit you the most. The point of cross-training is to be able to work with your training on the bike, but also help you reach your overall goal as an athlete.

When Should I Implement Cross-Training?
Deciding when you should start to cross-train can also be difficult. If you are in the off-season or the early stages of training on your bike, your cross-training should focus on strength and power building. Eventually your training will change when your bike training becomes more intense and you have to be more aware to prevent injury. Although you want to keep up with the strength training, make sure to focus on range of motion and flexibility, as well. These suggestions may not fit all riders, so make sure what your doing on the bike, and training overall, compliment your goals.

How Intense Should Cross-Training Be?
When you are trying to decide how long you should cross-train in comparison to training on your bike there is one simple rule: Treat cross-training with the same level focus and importance as you would training on your bike. You should be focused on both sessions and although it may be hard to get off the bike, it will be worth it. When you cross train you should use the same methods you use on the bike, such as tracking your heart rate, duration, heart rate Training Stress Score, and your Intensity Factor for all sessions. This will help you accurately factor your overall training load and understand the impact of both workouts. Keeping an eye on these numbers both on and off the bike will help you recognize your aerobic gains, as well as, other physiological adjustments that you may not see if you didn’t track them. Your overall goals, and where you are in terms of your overall training, should determine the intensity of your cross-training.

What Types of Training Should I Consider?
There are a large number of different types of cross-training, and it can be hard to figure out the best method for you. Here is a tip: When you are not on the bike you shouldn’t think of cross-training as a sport, like yoga, swimming, or running. Rather, consider what exercise will benefit you the most as a cyclist and what will help you reach your goals. Strength training and increased power is always a great thing to add when you are preparing for a race. If you are trying to stay injury free, however, including exercises like swimming, yoga, or Pilates to your routine will be a great investment of your time.

In the end, cross-training can serve a wide variety of purposes for any athlete. Cross training will help an athlete who has some weaknesses in any area of biking and will compliment the primary focus of any bike training. It will truly helps build a well-rounded athlete since biking is a low impact sport that doesn’t offer a large range of motion and adding the cross training in strengthens the areas that biking may not hit. It may be hard to know how and when to properly add cross training into your routine but when you do it will help add comfort, power, and strength to any bike.