5 Most Useful Cross-Training Sports for Cycling

We all know that cycling is the best sport out there, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t dozens of good reasons to mix it up with a few others. Not only can cross-training flat-out make you a better cyclist through core support and enhanced focus, but it can also help your body in tons of ways cycling can’t—like building up bone density and strengthening underused muscle groups.

So lets look at 5 of my favourite sports for cross training.

1. Rollerblading

Because cycling is a quad and glute dominant sport, with the obvious element of endurance, one great cross training activity is rollerblading. The beauty of this type of activity is, it can be done easily and without too much preparation and organization.

There has been many studies showing rollerblading compares to running or cycling in terms of caloric expenditure as well as aerobic and anaerobic benefits. A 30 minute skating period on roller blades will burn 285 calories, at an average heart rate of 148bpm, if skating at a steady comfortable pace, the same type of pace seen in a aerobic distance mileage ride (distance cycling can burn up to 360 calories in 30 minutes) Alternatively, rollerblading can be done aggressively in the form of intervals, as a result of the nature of rollerblading, you can adopt all of the elements of bike training, those training elements are as follows:

  • Long distance aerobic workouts
  • Threshold and tempo training sessions
  • Intervals and power workouts, as well as hill repeat training workouts

In addition, rollerblading is a great alternative to cycling, as it is a non contact sport. Many people like the “idea” of running, as it too is a non complicated activity, that can be done pretty much anywhere, at any time, however the downside to running, is that not everyone is built to run.  Running can be very hard on the all the joints: knees, back, feet and ankles. A recent study out of the University of Massachusetts, showed rollerblading causes 50% less impact to the joints than running. Rollerblading engages the bodies core muscles as well, which is also another great reason it makes a good cross training activity. Because it requires balance, skating involves the smaller stabilizer muscles that are also important during cycling.

2. Swimming

Swimming is great at building cardio, strength, and lung capacity and it’s a zero impact activity. It’s great for staying in shape when recovering from a cycling injury or during easy rest weeks. Swimming also builds a strong core and helps you increase mobility in your shoulders and hip flexors. If you are new to swimming, get a few lessons with a coach, learning proper technique will make you enjoy it a lot more!

3. Yoga or Pilates

Cycling can make you very tight, especially those long weekend rides. This, combined with a lot of time sitting hunched over in front of a PC, can cause back aches and other issues. That’s where Yoga or Pilates come in. They help you loosen up tight spots, combat imbalances, and maintain full range of motion in all of your joints. Plus they teach you better breathing patterns and that comes in handy on the bike as well.

4. Strength Training

Strength training consistently comes up in studies as the most effective injury prevention tool. And what could be more important than being healthy and injury free all year round to enjoy as much cycling as possible. It’s worth it, you should do some form of strength work every week. If you have a good workout plan it will improve your power on the bike without gaining any excess muscle. So, get a coach if you’re a beginner.

5. Stair Climbing or Hill Running

This is a great activity because it’s very similar to cycling. You use the same muscle groups for climbing stairs or running hills as you do while climbing on a bike. So why do it? It’s something you always have available. For example if you travel a lot and can’t always take your bike with you, there will always be some stairs to conquer!