Tips for beginning cyclists

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Millions of Americans, myself included, ride bikes.  And that number is growing all the time.  If you’re thinking of joining the growing number of people joining the cycling movement, here are some tips for beginner cyclists, taken from a great post I read on the site active.com:

 

Protect your skull

Every year, head injuries are responsible for nearly 60% of cycling deaths in the US, and many of these could be avoided by wearing a helmet.  Many states have bike helmet laws, but law or no law, you should always wear one.  And if you’re cycling with your kids, make sure they do too.  

 

Use your gears

When climbing hills, shift into a gear that will keep your cadence in the right range of rpm’s, so that you can make it without putting undue stress on your knees.  

 

…and avoid pedaling in high gear for too long

A good rule of thumb is to try and keep your cadence between 70 and 90 rpm’s.  When you pedal in a high gear, then it puts added strain on your knees.

 

Get the right saddle

The right saddle makes a huge difference when you’re riding.  The thickest padding won’t necessarily give you the most comfortable ride.  Generally the best type of saddle is a longer seat with a cutout.  

 

Change position while riding

If you keep your hands, arms, or rear in the same position for too long, then they risk getting numb.  To avoid this, make sure you mix things up.  Move your hands around on the bars, and move your rear end around on the saddle.  

 

Don’t ride with your headphones on

A lot of people enjoy listening to music or podcasts while they’re working out.  But that’s not something you want to do when you’re riding a bike.  If you can’t hear an emergency vehicle or other commotions behind you or off to the side because your music is playing too loud, then that can be extremely dangerous.  If you do want music, try for a small clip-on radio with a speaker that you can attach to your jersey.  

 

Know the rules

Ride with traffic and obey all road signs.  They’re meant for bikes just as much as cars!  Keep a close eye on all cars in front of you so that you can try and anticipate what they’re going to do.  

 

Keep your head up

Keep your helmeted head up in front far enough so that you’ll be able to react to any obstacles in the road, or on the shoulder in front of you.  You want to be aware of what’s coming ahead; something like a storm drain grate is very bad for skinny road bike tires.  

Three ways to bring yourself out of a fitness lull

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There is an old adage that is commonly applied to the process of getting and staying in shape: “the best way to get in shape is to never fall out of it.”

This observation is simple enough, but as any seasoned fitness addict can likely attest, it can be a hard one to constantly apply to your daily workout routine. Every fitness-based schedule, whether it is rooted in weight training, cycling, running, or yoga, is bound to come with its lulls, or periods of time where you feel drained, out of it, or less motivated. These moments are natural, but they can be daunting depending on their severity.

If you are currently stuck in a fitness lull, here are a few quick tips to bring yourself out of it.

 

Shorten your workout

There are many potential contributing factors to a fitness lull, but one of the biggest culprits is overtraining. If you are a runner or a cyclist, for instance, you may have added too many miles too quickly and are now paying for it as your aerobic endurance fights to catch up. In situations like this, a great remedy is to simply shorten your workouts for a few days (or even a few weeks, depending on your exhaustion levels). Cut back a few miles, a few reps, or a few minutes, or simply take a day or two off completely. Then, slowly add intensity and duration to naturally and healthily get back to where you had been prior to your lull. In most cases, you should return to form feeling refreshed.

 

Change your scenery

Whatever your fitness endeavor may be, there is an accompanying environment in which you likely pursue it on a regular basis (weight lifting in a specific gym, doing yoga or cross training in a specific room of the house). If you find yourself lagging with the same old routine in the same old location, revamp the latter by completing your workout with different scenery. This approach is almost entirely mental, but it can potentially perk you up and give your workout a new appeal. You will be surprised how much difference a slight change in surroundings will make.

 

Find a partner

The benefits of a workout partner are almost too obvious to list, yet many people still prefer to do all their workouts alone. Though there is nothing wrong with an occasional solo effort, a partner-based workout system is scientifically proven to jumpstart your motivation. Your partner will be completing the same physical challenges as you, and this comradery alone is motivating as the two of you push each other to the same endpoint. Furthermore, keeping a steady conversation can be asset to making otherwise tedious runs and rides pass by quickly.

The best cycling apps

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Like most aerobic fitness endeavors, cycling requires hard work in a variety of ways: commitment to training, planning routes and loops, developing a weekly schedule that works with your unique employment routine, and making sure your bike is regularly maintained for optimal performance.

With so many variables constantly at play, a biker’s life can occasionally be as hectic as it is relaxing and addictive. Luckily, there are a variety of technological resources available to make cycling an easier and smoother process, namely a long list of useful smartphone apps dedicated to the sports’ most crucial fundamentals.

Here are a few of the best cycling apps.

 

Strava

Strava has risen as a household name in fitness-based smartphone app technology. Aimed mainly at cyclists, runners, and walkers, the app records periods of activity and allows users to simultaneously log them and share them with other Strava users. For cyclists, the app is a great tool for monitoring rides and recording time over set segments.

 

Bike Gear Calculator

Simply titled, but infinitely useful, the Bike Gear Calculator app “is a quick way to compare different gears on your bike and on setups you’re considering, and for seeing how fast you’ll be travelling in a given gear at a particular cadence (pedal revolutions per minute).” The app serves as a great measuring tool and foresight resource for upcoming rides and races.

 

Cyclemeter

Cyclemeter’s main strength is its ability to use past and current experiences to contribute to future training approaches. The app implements GPS ride data to store your progress, focusing primarily on speed, distance, and overall time.

 

Garmin Connect Mobile

Like Strava, Garmin Connect Mobile stands as a popular resource among many different types of aerobic athletes. Specifically for cyclists, the app provides an advanced ride logging system through the Garmin Connect database, which can also be shared across Strava, MyFitnessPal, and other leading fitness-based apps. By using this app, cyclists will also have access to other Garmin features such as LiveTrack, which allows others to track you in real time during a ride.

 

Fill that Hole
Fundamentally different than the other apps on this list, Fill that Hole is a unique and quirky app designed to let cyclists report potholes and other road hazards to local authorities. The UK-based service strives to make the hazard reporting process easier and less micromanaged in terms of communication. After all, a roadside direct line of communication is a lot easier to navigate than a weekly municipal government meeting.

Five foods that might seem healthy, but are not

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Since the United States first launched into its health craze about a decade ago, countless brands have been advertising that their foods are now “all-natural,” “gluten-free,” and/or “organic.”

Unfortunately, these claims are rarely ever true, as this presumably healthier food is often packed with saturated fats, toxic sugar substitutes, and high levels of carbohydrates.

Here is a list of five foods that might seem healthy, but actually are not:

 

Granola

It is important to note that not all granola is unhealthy, but many brands add unnecessary sugars and oils to their products during the cooking process, giving them a higher fat content. If you are craving granola, opt to make it at home instead. After all, there are plenty of savory recipes that are healthier — and more satisfying — than the usual store bought brands.

 

Flavored yogurt

No matter how lofty yogurt brands’ claims are, their flavored yogurt is not, in fact, a healthy breakfast option. Instead, these small cups are often loaded with more sugar than you would expect, leaving you feeling hungry shortly after tossing the plastic cup into the recycling bin, Make it a point to incorporate plain Greek yogurt into your diet. You can add fruit or spices to give it more flavor and it will leave you feeling more energized for the day ahead.

 

Margarine

Although it boasts a lower level of saturated fat than its classic butter counterpart, margarine is far worse for your body due to how many synthetic ingredients are added during its production. As a matter of fact, margarine is not even naturally yellow like butter is — it is more of a grey color, but it is bleached to emulate butter and steamed to remove any chemical odors. Perhaps it is time to pitch that container of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! and switch back to butter or a real natural alternative.

 

Instant oatmeal

As unfortunate as it is, packets of instant oatmeal hold little to no nutritional value, especially if they are flavored. Flavored oatmeal has been proven to contain too much added sugar, which, similar to the aforementioned flavored yogurt, will only leave you rummaging around for more food within an hour or so. Instead, opt for the classic instant oats and add in fruit, spices, and other items to add flavor and texture to your morning bowl of oatmeal.

 

Gluten-free foods

This is likely the most shocking item on this list, as gluten-free foods are presumed to be inherently better for you. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as gluten-free foods contain various rice flours, additional sugar, and starches that are not as nutritionally beneficial in comparison to whole grains. So, if you do not have a legitimate gluten allergy, it would be best to avoid gluten-free foods as much as possible.

Reasons Why You Should Make CrossFit Part of your Summer Routine

 

Crossfit: Many Benefits

Summer is great way to get back into shape or to discover a new workout routine. For years, I’ve explored various fitness approaches in the quest to achieve an optimal level of health. Over the past year or so, I’ve developed a love for Crossfit. This high intensity routine has surged in popularity over the last decade and owes its success to the effectiveness and collaborative nature of its design. Interested in learning more about CrossFit? Why not try this extremely fun and effective fitness program out this summer!

 

You’ll get into Amazing Shape

Check out any photo of a crossfit gym and my point will be illustrated perfectly. Crossfit is a phenomenal way to get into amazing shape, super fast. You’ll learn to push your body and fight through the pain. You’ll continue through it because you’ll be surrounded by fellow success stories.

 

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It’s All About Community

One of the best things about the Crossfit craze is the strong community that accompanies the workout. You’ll never be in the gym lifting weights alone. You’ll be scarce to find a fellow crossfitter who won’t jump in and model a new move. This can be extremely beneficial to new crossfitters as they learn and adapt to the movements.

 

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You’re Life Will Improve

Yes, you’ll be in better shape. Yes, you’re heart and your joints will be healthier. But you’ll also notice improvements in other areas of your life. To start, you’ll notice a huge mood in your mood. Constant exercise performed alongside your active community will do wonders for your mental health. You’ll laugh more. You’ll sweat more. You’ll release a ton of endorphins. Who wouldn’t want to achieve a lifestyle that gets you in shape and manages your mental health as well?

 

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It’s Fun

There’s something electric about the sport that motivates and excites even the most timid fitness enthusiast. Why is the sport so fun? Many of the movements hark back to your childhood days; playing on the playground. It’s a wild form of freedom. And an outlet that many adults don’t get to explore nearly enough. Exercise should be fun. The most successful athletes can manage their health and keep up with their routines because of this aspect. The secret to crossfit is the varied workout movements. You’ll never get stuck cycling for an hour or repeating the same three circuits. Crossfit is all about varying the movements to target different parts of your body in fast and intense interval cycles.

 

Crossfit continues to make its way into every town and city in America. It continues to cultivate new communities of crossfitters; individuals who notice a tremendous improvement in their physical and mental health. What about you? Will crossfit change your life this summer?

 

Not sure you’re ready to try it out a gym or Crossfit studio? Check out my previous post, where I outline one of my favorite workouts. A few of these movements are crossfit standards!

 

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