Cycle yourself slim - Slimming Solutions

Cycle yourself slim

It may sound old fashioned, but getting on your bike can be very good for you.
Take Kate Hudson, this actress loves heading out on her bicycle, and who wouldn’t want a super-toned body like hers? Elle Macpherson and fitness fan Madonna are also devotes of going for a good old bike ride. “Cycling is a great activity that is extremely effective for toning the body and improving heart and lung function,” says Brendan Moriarty, the senior coaching and education officer of British Cycling, “its brilliant for overall health, but the best part is that it can also be fun, whether cycling with friends in the countryside, overcoming obstacles on a mountain bike or just commuting to and from work.” If this isn’t enough to get you in a spin, bear in mind that cycling is a great fat burner. And when you think of it, you won’t even have to get off your backside! Here we take a look at cycling – whether in the gym or outside – and how you can use this simple ultra-accessible exercise to get yourself in shape.

Cycling: The benefits

  •  It gives you a good cardiovascular workout, which is great for your lungs and heart.
  •  It’s great for toning wobbly legs and bottoms.
  • Cross-country biking gives your arms, neck, back and stomach a good workout.
  • The fresh air and daylight that come with cycling outside are great for your health.
  • It’s a low-impact exercise compared to running.
  • Cycling outside gives variety. The changing scenery will keep things interesting and increase your motivation to exercise.
  • There’s a social element too. “You can cycle with friends and stop off at a scenic cafe,” says Brendan. “Just don’t undo all the good work by eating cream cakes!”
  • You can do it in the gym or outside – although cross-country cycling is generally better as it burns more calories, develops your upper body strength and tones muscles.

How to cycle yourself slim 

If you‘re new to exercise Brendan recommends two to three 20-30 minute sessions a week, at a low to medium intensity. Then build up the number of sessions you do each week and slowly increase their intensity or duration. “The key factor is to build up gradually because the quicker you build it up, the more chance there is of injury.” says Brendan. If you’re fit, Brendan advises swapping the time you spend on cardiovascular exercise for cycling and building up the intensity. Spinning classes are high intensity and good for upping fitness levels. But because they are so intense, they can leave you exhausted. “A lot of people think you will lose weight by going to spinning, but often they come out stiff from not warming up or cooling down properly. Then they can’t train for a few days.” Brendan explains.

How to do it properly

  • “A warm-up and cool down is essential”, says Brendan. “With the cool down, the focus is to bring the body down to a pre-exercise state”.
  • Work on a proper technique. “Ideally, the ball of your foot is over the pedal spindle, which is where the pedal attaches to the crank”, says Brendan.
  • “One of the biggest mistakes people make is putting the bike in high resistance so it’s harder to pedal”, says Brendan. “One of the key tips at the start is to use a lower resistance so there are more revolutions per minute. You want something you can control, so you can get used to the pedalling technique”.
  • Make sure that when you’re in the saddle, your knees are always bent. “They should never lock straight”, says Brendan. “But it’s key that the legs aren’t bent too-much – there has to be comfort”.
  • The reach to the handlebars should be comfortable – your arms should be slightly bent.
  • Make sure you can stop the bike and put your feet on the ground properly before taking the road.
  • Leg and back pain are the most common injuries. This can be due to anything from the saddle being too high, low, far forward or far back to you not being able to reach the handlebars properly. “The best place to make sure that doesn’t happen is in the bike shop before you start”, says Brendan.
  • You could also take a cycling proficiency course to help you use your bike properly and be safer on the roads.

What you’ll need

  • It’s worth investing in good equipment. “You’ll be able to get a basic, decent-quality mountain bike for around £200”, says Brendan. A mountain bike is usually the best buy because of it’s many uses. “It’s possible to commute on it, go on general road rides and also ride off-road”, explains Brendan.
  • If cycling outside, always wear a helmet to protect your head. “You can pay anywhere between £30 to £150 for a good helmet, but the key is to look for the CE mark, which indicates the helmet meets British Standards”, says Brendan.
  • Don’t wear baggy bottoms as these can get caught in the bike’s chain.
  • To ease discomfort, you can buy padded shorts for cycling. It’s also worth knowing that you can now buy saddles made specifically for women.
  • Other useful equipment includes front and rear bicycle lights, mudguards, rainwear and a water bottle.

Credit: New Magazine