The best cycling apps

mark-dziuban-cycling-apps

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.

Exercise habits to avoid

Mark dziuban, workout habits

No matter how long you have been actively pursuing a better fitness routine, it is possible that you have one or more bad exercise habits that are deterring your efforts. In order to fully reap the benefits of your time in the gym, be sure to avoid the following exercise habits:

Skipping gym days. It is no secret that exercising is sometimes a greater test of your mental willpower than your physical abilities. After all, it is rare to find a person who genuinely desires to go to the gym and work out — especially in front of others who may or may not be in better shape than they are. However, it is better to find a way to will yourself to get up, lace up your sneakers, and go to the gym anyway. Such persistence will benefit you in the long run.

 

Taking long rests between exercises. Although it may be tempting to sit down and take a long water break after an especially difficult set of weightlifting or a sprint, it is much better for you to take shorter breaks — anywhere between one and three minutes — as they give you the opportunity to catch your breath without losing momentum or drastically lowering your heart rate.

 

Eating and/or drinking too much. Indulging in full meals or drinking too much water before a work out can lead to nausea, cramps, and other painful side effects. It is better to eat a small, healthy snack — such as Greek yogurt, fruit, or granola — and drink no more than two glasses of water prior to your next trip to the gym, as this will give you the energy you need to follow through with your exercise plan without any additional pain.

If you do choose to eat a full meal before heading to the gym, be sure to do so about two to four hours beforehand.

 

Working out aimlessly. If you go into the gym without at least an outline of your regimen for the day, it is unlikely that you will gain much from your efforts, as you will be more prone to getting distracted or giving up mid-exercise because you are not totally sure of what you are doing.

 

Make it a point to write down your exercise plan, whether on a piece of paper or in a note on your phone. This will not only give you direction at the gym, but help you to familiarize yourself with your gym’s range of equipment as well.

The best apps for dieting

Mark Dzuiban, dieting apps

Dieting can be difficult. For many people, a total change in eating habits can take a lot of time and effort as they strengthen their willpower and overall discipline.

Luckily, modern diets can be complemented by a variety of supplemental resources that aid dieters toward their goals. Dieting apps now stand as an obvious technological advantage for dieters owning a smartphone or other app-ready device.

Here are some of the best dieting apps (for both iphone and android).

 

MyFitnessPal

Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal app is a go-to resource for nearly every type of dieter (though it is generally marketed towards those who are also active). The app allows users to easily enter foods and beverages they have eaten throughout the day to keep track of calories and crucial macronutrients (proteins, fats, sugars, etc.). The app then stacks these numbers up to predetermined calorie and macro totals based on your unique body type (weight, height) and your lifestyle (very active, moderately active). Additionally, the app is able to factor in calories burned during physical activities, which can also be logged in a similar manner.

 

Diet Point – Weight Loss

Diet Point – Weight Loss is a handy dieting app that provides users with over 130 different diet plans, each tailored to a different lifestyle and starting point. This wide set of options gives users the convenience of avoiding guesswork in terms of figuring out how to get started. Furthermore, users can enjoy close to 500 preloaded tips to improve their individual weight loss plans and achieve their goals. The app also comes with a BMI calculator, which always serves as a helpful tracking resource for those dedicated to losing weight.

 

My Diet Coach

My Diet Coach is aimed primarily at women, but it features a motivation-heavy theme focused on inspiring users to continuously reach for their weight goals. A big staple of the app is its reminder feature, which allows users to set daily reminders personalized to your regular dieting needs or responsibilities (users can set alarms to drink more water or prepare a healthy lunch, for example). Other helpful features include a diet diary, a motivational photo album, and a list of perseverance tips.

 

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers has existed as a dieting resource for many years now, and its mobile app is a testament to its continued relevance amongst dieters nationwide. The app follows Weight Watchers classic “PointsPlus” system, which goes beyond typical dieting management by grading users through a points system (rather than through calorie counting alone). The app does require a paid subscription after prolonged use, but with a variety of food and weight tracking features and a 24/7 chat option that links users to weight coaches, your money will be well spent.

 

Mark’s Go-To Workout

 

Over the years, my workouts have transitioned from one sport to the next. I’m always interested in trying out the coolest trends! In the past, I’ve never been concerned about my nutrition. My philosophy? If I’m working out, I’m working it off. Now, science and technology have provided so much information debunking this fact. Living a healthy lifestyle means so more than being active.

I’m not a nutritionist, and I’m not writing this to tell you how to eat – but utilizing common sense when it comes to your food is important. If you are going to dedicate your time and energy to working out, why not start right at the refrigerator. Why wait for “next Monday” to start that new workout program when you can start right now by reading the back of a food label.

 

Gallery of food photos

 

We already know trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils are bad to consume in high amounts. Want a challenge? Take a minute and go over to your kitchen and read the labels on your favorite snacks. How many trans fats do you see? Now, look to see how many grams of sugar are in single serving. That many?

While you may be working out all the time but you’re not concerned about your diet, chances are you aren’t losing the weight. Here’s a secret. You can become healthier faster by not working out. You’ll actually see more results when you focus on the foods you consume! (Or not consume.)

Don’t worry. Healthy food does not equate to foods that don’t taste good. In fact, if you can discipline yourself for just two or three weeks, and adhere to a healthier diet, you’ll be amazed how awful that old way of eating tastes. Give up packaged foods. Foods with high sugar and high fat. Focus on eating real food – vegetables, fruit, nuts, and meats. The closer it is to its natural state, the more nutrient dense and healthier it is.

After you have the hang of eating real food, you’re ready to work out! As I mentioned earlier I have changed one sport to another and within each sport from one workout regimen to another. I have several workouts that I would like to share with you. I’ll start with exercises you can do at home, no equipment required.

Here are a few of the exercises I use most frequently:

  • Burpees:  I love burpees! A proper burpee begins standing with your feet shoulder width apart, hands above your head. Squat to the floor, hands flat on the floor in front of your feet, kick your feet back at the same time to a straight arm plank. Go down and do one push-up. Kick your feet back to your hands and thrust your body into the air extending your hands over your head. Finish in the standing position your started. That is one burpee!

 

  • Knee Tucks:  Begin this exercise in the straight arm plank position. You can put your feet shoulder width apart or together depending upon your shoulder strength and what is most comfortable. Now, in one single motion, kick your feet to the outside of each wrist, knees bent. Now kick back to your starting position. You’ve done one knee tuck.
  • Side-to-Side Knee Tucks: This exercise is identical to a standard knee tuck except you kick both feet to the same wrist. Alternate each side with each new kick. Don’t worry about kicking your feet all the way to your wrists. Start with what is comfortable –the side to side motion is most important. You’ll work those obliques!

 

  • Spider Push Ups:  A spider push-up is a normal push up with a slight alteration  First let’s make certain your normal push up form incorporates proper technique. Remember, a strong core is necessary to perform a proper push up. If your back is concaved, you are doing it wrong and will potentially hurting yourself.  Flatten your back, get that butt up and hips down. Feel weird? Good, you’ve been doing them wrong. Another common push-up mistake is not going down the entire way or doing a “pulse” push up.  If you turned a 2×4 on its edge under your chest, your chest should touch the 2×4.  On the way up straighten out those elbows.  The spider push-up incorporates all the motion of a properly executed push up except during the push up phase of the exercise, bring in your right knee and try to kiss your elbow with your knee. Alternate side-to-side for each push up.

 

  • Side Bends:  These are exactly what they say – a side bend. Feet shoulder width apart, hands flat against the outside of your thigh. Stand tall and bend sideways at your waist to try and touch the outside of your knee. Keep your core tight, your back straight using your obliques to control the movement. The benefit of this exercise, it allows your heart rate to come down and it comes at a time in the workout where you need to catch your breath.  Enjoy the break.

 

  • Mountain Climber: Start in a straight arm plank position. Quickly move one leg forward under your body, then back, then the other. Almost like running in place in this position.  

 

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I’ve selected a workout that works best with a partner. This provides two things. First, it helps with timing.While you are doing a set, your partner is resting and vise-versa. It also provides a challenge and helps you execute proper form and technique. Second, a partner helps you commit to a schedule and a routine. Ready to get started? Here we go.

 

10 Burpees

20 knee tucks – side to side

50 jumping Jacks

20 knee tucks – feet to wrists

10 Burpees

50 Mountain Climbers (25 each foot)

10 standard push ups

20 knee tucks – feet to wrists

10 Burpees

10 spider push ups

50 jumping jacks

*10 pull ups

20 knee tucks – side to side

10 Burpees

50 Side bends

*10 pull ups

50 mountain climbers

50 side bends

1-mile run

 

*If you do not have access to a pull-up bar, you can do 15 standard push ups, instead.

Keep a slow pace until you feel comfortable with the basic exercises. If 20 knee tucks are too much of a challenge, simply modify the workout. After you increase your strength and endurance, you can begin to challenge your workout partner. Try and go through the series twice!

After you’re finished, treat yourself to a healthy snack and pat yourself on your back. And always remember, “If you want it, you gotta go get it!”