Posted by: K | 2008/07/10


Hey FitnessDoc

I am a 21 year old girl and have been (leisurely) mountainbiking for about 3 years now but want to take it to the next level. How long and how often should I cycle? I am also at the gym so are there additional exercises you recommend?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageFitnessDoc

Hi K

depends on what the current level is. The two ways to improve your cycling are either to ride a little harder, or to ride longer (either per session, or more often during the week).

I'm not sure what your time constraints are - these are often the limiting factor, and so perpahs the first thing you can change is the intensity you ride at. Let's say for example that you're doing a session of 45 minutes - you might consider slotting in short periods of harder riding, maybe 3 minutes hard, 6 minutes easy (or normal), and repeating this 5 tiems. The terrain dictates this though - you can't often go hard on a downhill section, all you do is go as fast as gravity allows you. But on the uphills, consider pushing that little bit harder.

I would suggest also that you get one longer ride in a week. Perhaps a weekend ride, look at getting your duration up to say 90 minutes, and eventually even 2 hours. It all depends on what level you are aiming for, and where you are now.

As for gym exercises on other days, the circuit once a week is always a good bet - look at strengthening the core and back, that's important for cycling. But really, the gym provides the variety, and if you can get there two days a week, with one circuit session and the other a mix of cardio like stairs, rowing and running, then you'll be getting some decent overall fitness work.

Good luck

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