Naturally, you need a bike to train for cycling. However, there are still many ways to keep in shape and develop your cycling skills, even if you don’t have your bicycle with you.
The ten best methods to train for cycling without a bike are:
- Strength training
- Spinning classes
- Walking and running
- Gym training
- Skateboarding or longboarding
- Jumping ropes
So, let’s talk more about these great ways to stay in shape. I’ll tell you more about the benefits of each method and help you find the best one for you so that you’ll always be ready to get back in the saddle– even if you can’t always have your bike with you.
1. Strength Training
Strength training is an excellent way to work out and keep the muscles you use during cycling strong and conditioned.
You can also use strength training in small increments any time of the day, and it doesn’t require any special equipment or gym memberships. So, no matter where you are, you can use strength training to train.
In addition, you can always make strength training more rigorous. If you find that these exercises are too easy for you, you can do more reps, time yourself, race the clock, or use weights to increase resistance. If you don’t have dumbbells, you can use water bottles, books, suitcases, or anything else you have lying around.
An excellent routine for cycling training includes:
- Lunges. Lunges train hip flexors, your thighs, calves, glutes, and core, working out all of the muscles you need to ride a bike. For best results as you go into your lunge, ensure that your shoulders, knee, and foot are all aligned. Keep the knee in front of you from extending over your toes.
- Glute Bridges. Glute bridges engage your core, lower back, glutes, and hips, helping you maintain the proper posture for cycling.
- Lay on your back on a mat or rug.
- Prop your knees up, bringing your ankles within about a foot of your butt.
- Lay your arms flat on the ground.
- Lift your butt off the ground, forming a straight line from your head to your knees. Hold the position for 10 seconds, then repeat.
- Bulgarian Split Squats. Bulgarian split squats are excellent for getting better balance while strengthening your glutes, hip flexors, thighs, and calves. To do a Bulgarian split squat:
- Prop one of your feet up behind you on a chair, couch, or table.
- Do your squat as usual and complete several repetitions on each side.
- Planks. Planks will help you perfect your cycling posture since they work out your whole core, shoulders, and back. To get in position:
- Lay on your stomach
- Place your elbows on the ground straight down from your shoulders.
- Tuck your toes underneath your feet.
- Lift your body in a straight line and hold it as long as you can.
- Calf raises. Calf raises keep the muscles in your legs toned. This exercise simulates pedaling movement, keeping your ankles, calves, knees, and thighs flexible and toned. You will need a box, brick, yoga block, or stack of books for this one.
- Stand on your step with the balls of your feet on the box, leaving your heels hanging off.
- Go onto your tip-toes.
- Push your heels down and repeat.
- Single-leg squats. Single-leg squats add more resistance than standard squats, and they work your legs and glutes one at a time, just like you would while pedaling your bike.
If you want some help getting started or some pointers for the perfect technique for some of these exercises, check out this fantastic YouTube video from The Global Cycling Network:
Some other great strength training exercises include using resistance bands to strengthen your shoulders, legs, and glutes or doing crunches to strengthen your core.
Generally, in addition to strength training, I recommend doing some other exercise that increases your heart rate. You can combine strength training with activities like running, walking, swimming, hiking, or aerobics.
While muscular strength is essential, you also need to ensure that you are keeping your heart strong and your circulation good to maintain your stamina while cycling.
2. Spinning Classes
If you don’t have a bike, spinning classes are often the next best thing. Although you may not be out on the open road catching air in spinning classes, they do offer a fun, high-energy environment for you to get in shape and keep your foot to the pedal.
Spinning classes combine cardio with low-impact strength training like cycling does, and often, the environment can be more social and fun than cycling outdoors alone. Most spinning classes pump loud music to get you in the rhythm, have encouraging trainers who want you to succeed, and they can help you refine your stamina and resolve.
In many ways, spinning classes help you stay motivated while you are on a real bike later, and they can keep you in the perfect shape for it too.
So, if you want to start cycling without a bike, look for a nearby gym, health club, or fitness studio that offers spinning classes. Your body and your brain will thank you!
Swimming is like biking because it is so low-impact, and it uses your body’s weight as resistance for strength training. Swimming is also a lot more fun than most stationary exercises, making it the perfect way to get in shape for your cycling adventures.
However, unlike biking, swimming gives you a full-body workout, which can drastically improve your cycling performance. Depending on the stroke you are using in the pool, you can target different areas of your body, strengthening your shoulders, back, glutes, legs, and ankles– all of which are essential muscle groups for bicycling.
Swimming can also offer the benefits of cardio exercise like cycling does, but the cool water keeps you from overheating, allowing you to get more practice in before you need to take a break. That means that, when swimming, you can usually make more progress in a shorter amount of time than with other exercise methods, helping you stay motivated.
In many ways, swimming is a perfect conditioning exercise to practice, whether you are a biker, bodybuilder, or runner. So, if you want to up your cycling game, try to swim one or two times a week on your off days or make swimming a routine when you can’t bike. That way, next time you’re in the saddle, you will be prepared for anything!
4. Walking and Running
Just like cycling, walking and running works out one leg at a time, helping you alternate your feet while you are on the move.
These exercises help tone your whole body, especially the muscles you need to develop to be an excellent cyclist. Keeping your legs and core in shape is one of the best ways to train, and luckily, walking and running don’t require any equipment.
Another significant benefit of walking and running is that you get to do it outside, arguably the best part of cycling. You can take a walk or run anywhere, from a park to your neighborhood roads, and you don’t have to deal with the pointlessness of running in-situ or in circles in a gym.
If you are more interested in low-impact sports, walking might be the right choice for you. If you want a good workout, choose to walk routes with steeper hills or try long-distance power-walking to a steady tempo. Doing so will keep your heart rate elevated for an extended time, giving you the stamina you need to cycle long distances.
Running might be harder on your body. It is not nearly as low-impact as cycling, but it will keep your body in good shape when you get back on the saddle. It also tasks your heart like biking, ensuring you are in good cardio health when you get back on your bike.
Running also strengthens your core and improves your posture, helping you maintain good position while cycling, especially in the aero position. It can also keep your bones healthy and improve your circulation, making it one of the best ways to supplement your cycling training routine.
5. Gym Training
If you have access to a gym or health club, regularly visiting can help you stay in shape for cycling.
There are tons of things to do at a gym that can help you train for cycling, but some are better than others.
If you want to keep in biking shape, some of the best equipment and exercises to use in gym training are:
- Stationary bikes. Stationary bikes are the best option when you don’t have a bike but want to get cycling. Many stationary bikes have pre-programmed routes to help you get an authentic cycling experience, all while you’re at the gym. Play with different elevations, speeds, and resistances to keep progressing your cycling skills.
- Recumbent bikes. Although they may seem like lower-impact stationary bikes, recumbent bikes target different areas of your muscles to help your glutes, thighs, and calves stretch and strengthen in ways that other bikes can’t.
- Ellipticals. Ellipticals combine the benefits of running and cycling, helping you target the muscles that you need to pedal your bike. They also offer excellent cardio exercise, helping you keep your heart in shape.
- Stair climbers or stairs. Stairs and stair-climbing machines are more intense than cycling, but they target the same muscles you use when on the saddle.
- Pull-up bars. Although most cyclists don’t opt for many upper-body workouts, pull-ups are a great way to train your core and shoulders, which will hold most of your weight when you are maneuvering on your bike.
At a gym, you also have the option to do regular strength training (as described above) with dumbbells and kettlebells. Start with smaller weights to control your technique, then keep switching out weights as you get stronger. That way, you can track your progress, and there is nothing more rewarding than that!
Like biking, pilates is a low-impact exercise that uses your body’s weight for resistance in strength training. Pilates strengthens the core, glutes, and hips, which are crucial for your ability to pedal while cycling.
Pilates is a bit like yoga, but with more strength exercises built into it. It helps you keep your joints and spine aligned so that you don’t have to worry as much about harming yourself while doing more strenuous sports like cycling. So, with pilates, you can expect an excellent, relaxing way to train while increasing your strength.
You can either take a pilates class at a local gym or do it from home. Still, either way, you will surely be able to see the benefits of pilates next time you go for a spin.
If you love to get outside and see new things while you work out, hiking might be the right pick for you. It is both a cardio and strength training method of exercise, working out your whole body.
Like walking and running, hiking can keep your legs, hips, buttocks, back, and core in the best shape possible. Still, hiking will also put your balance to the test on challenging terrain, and you will probably get some weight training if you bring a backpack. So, hiking does it all!
If you want to challenge yourself, try trail running, which will give you all the benefits of a mountain bike ride. Alternatively, you can try overnight hikes or more strenuous mountain trails to get the most muscle gain from your trip into nature.
Overall, hiking is another way to get outdoors and enjoy your workout. You don’t need anything other than yourself and some determination to do it, either.
Aerobics is a great way to get your stamina up before you get back on your bike. Like biking, aerobics increases your heart rate and keeps your blood circulating. So, taking some aerobics classes can help you endure long, tiring bike rides without losing your breath.
With its upbeat dance-like moves, aerobics can also help you develop more muscular legs and better posture, helping you keep pedaling without getting cramps.
9. Skateboarding or Longboarding
If you like cycling because it gets you outdoors, skateboarding or longboarding could be an excellent way to build up your strength, balance, and stamina– all while getting to be outside.
Skateboarding helps you develop perfect posture, coordination, and the leg strength you need to be a great cyclist. In addition, once you get the basics down, it can be a strenuous cardio exercise that will keep you on your toes. So, if you’re feeling adventurous, try boarding to improve your cycling skills today!
10. Jumping Ropes
Many cyclists prefer to use jump ropes for training since they are easy to use and offer complete body workouts.
Jump ropes aren’t just a great way to get some cardio. They also keep your lower legs in tip-top shape, strengthening your calves, ankles, and knees. Jump ropes also help your posture, and they can keep your balance on point, helping you stay in the best position while you are on a bike.
Jumping rope can also help to strengthen your bones, which is something that cycling doesn’t do. Many cyclists can develop osteoporosis as they age if they are not engaging in any impact sport, so supplementing your cycling routine with rope jumping is an excellent way to stay in overall good health.
There are plenty of ways to train for cycling, even if you don’t have access to a bike right now. Generally, it is best to combine low-impact strength training with some mid to high-impact cardio, so mix and match these methods however you see fit to develop the perfect routine for you.
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