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Bike Your Way into the Best Shape of Your Life


Almost everyone wants to get in or stay in shape. Many people just don’t like to exercise, which makes it very easy to put it off. Working out and getting fit doesn’t have to be like work, if you do it on a bike, it can be fun and extremely effective for almost everyone.

Even if you are elderly and don’t have good balance, you can still ride a bike. There are a few companies that still make 3 wheeled bikes that you don’t need to balance, and you can still get a good workout and get fit riding one. You can also do most of the training on a recumbent bike, which I do much of the year in Minnesota, but out in the fresh air can’t be beat.

If you don’t have a bike and are looking to get one, to get the best bike for general fitness riding, riding trails and riding around your neighborhood, the newer hybrid bikes are the most versatile. You can ride them easily on the roads and trail, or you can ride them on unpaved trails as well. The wider tires also make them more stable and easier to ride for the average person.

Before you start, set some goals for yourself. Set an overall goal and then break it down into pieces to give you steps to your main goal. Make the steps small enough that you can reach them in a reasonable amount of time. If you set a goal that take too long to reach, you will get discouraged. Set goals that you can reach and show yourself that you are making progress.

Set up a plan for yourself. Try to get out at least 3 days per week and get in a good ride. Start as slow as you need to so you don’t overdo the exercise. Don’t try to make it easy, you want to work hard some of the time. I have a great place to ride. I live on the edge of Elm Creek Park reserve, it has 26 miles of bike trails and if you ride the trails, you get a good workout that brings into play High intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is the way to burn fat and really get in shape.

Cycling has a natural HIIT build into it if you ride natural up and down trails and roads. You want to get your heart pumping and then rest slightly and let your heart rate come back down some, then back up, and back down. Unless you live in a very flat area, that should happen just by riding normal areas.

On the first day, ride at a fairly easy pace for 15 min., then turn around and ride back. That should give you a good start to see what shape you’re in. Rest for 2 days, then go out and try to go another 5 min out and back. On your next ride, try to do it faster. Shoot to get to the same place in a shorter time and back, or change the route to add a hill or two to your route.

You can burn more fat in the same amount of time running, but cycling is so much better on your body. You are not pounding your knee joints on every step, and running burns muscle as well as fat, and it’s is not much fun.

One of the great benefits of cycle training to get fit and lose body fat is that you will build muscle in the process. Just look at top level athletes, the cyclists look like athletes, and runners look like they are sick, and it doesn’t pound your knees to pain.

Paul Hickman