Assess your fitness before starting out in cycling
You've got the new bike - or upgraded your old one (See Bikes & Components, and Bike Maintenance) and are ready to start your new cycling regime. If one of your key aims is getting fitter, read on.
If you want to get fitter, it's really helpful to find a way to guage your improvements. First, look at what you really mean by getting fitter (See Training for Cycling). Then it's wise to assess your basic fitness before you embark on a new sport. After that, you can then plan your riding to achieve more specific fitness-related goals and monitor your progress as you go.
It's handy need to keep a record, so why not print out this page and save it somewhere safe - and visible?
Your goal might be to rider further, or faster, or you might be looking to lose some weight or join a local cycling club or go on a touring holiday or charity ride; or maybe it will be a combination of all of these. Let's go through each one in turn and address how you might come up with a base line measurement on which to gauge your progress. It's handy need to keep a record, so why not print out this page and save it somewhere safe - and visible?
Also remember it is a good idea to get clearance from your doctor before embarking on an exercise programme, especially if you are overweight, deconditioned and/or over 50!
There are several elements that you can easily test:
- For your cycling-specific speed and endurance, find yourself a short circuit of two to three miles, not too hilly and time yourself for one lap. Then rest and see how many laps you can do in 30 minutes.
- On another day, assess your general physical fitness by measuring your weight, waist to hip ratio, flexibility (a basic sit and reach test) and strength (press ups and sit ups). On the last one make sure you do each exercise properly and take care to warm up first.
- Record your resting heart rate. As you get fitter your heart becomes more efficient and therefore works less hard at rest. You can also use your resting heart rate to assess if you are overtraining or unwell. Many athletes take their resting pulse daily but weekly will do for starters. Just make sure that you take it a consistent time, such as first thing in the morning before breakfast, or maybe in the evening before you go to bed.
- These are just basic tests but should serve to get you started.
Dr Auriel Forrester
Auriel is the owner of Scientific Coaching
, an accredited full-time personal cycle coach, Sport's Coach UK Senior Tutor, British Cycling Coaching Tutor, consultant to top sporting bodies such as Sport England and UK Sport, an accredited sport scientist (BASES), and former Director of British Cycling. She has achieved 4 world titles and several national medals in professional cycling and much more.
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