Cycling is a great form of aerobic exercise. It’s easy to access for all fitness levels and provides a great workout. However, if you are looking to cycle for long distances, you will need to build up your endurance level.
If you are wondering how to increase your cycling endurance, this is the post for you. I have plenty of tips, tricks and advice to share below.
What is Endurance?
Defined as “the ability to continue doing something for a long time,” endurance is important during exercise. Looking at the meaning of the word endurance from a fitness standpoint, it links to a specific bodily function. (1)
In order to have a high level of endurance, your body must be able to process and deliver oxygen quickly and efficiently. A strong and steady supply of oxygen to the muscles will allow your body to keep going for a longer period of time.
Training to Improve Endurance
As endurance is all about oxygen supply, the best way to train and develop your endurance is through aerobic exercise. This is the kind of exercise that gets your heart rate up and increases your breathing. With more breaths, comes more oxygen.
The key to developing your endurance level is improving your body’s ability to maintain a steady supply of oxygen. This is best achieved by a mixture of different activities. (2)
It is important to incorporate a variety of high and low impact activities within a workout session. Combining short bursts of high-intensity exercise, with medium to low impact exercise, improves your body’s ability to recover. By recover, I mean efficiently control your heart rate.
When you include small bursts of high-intensity exercise to your workout session, your heart rate is increased quickly. By then easing off and allowing your heart rate time to recover and slow down again, you are helping to make it more effective at pumping oxygen around your body.
Cycling is a great form of aerobic exercise that also gives you plenty of opportunity to vary your intensity. You can easily include regular short bursts of increased intensity within a session. However, start off slowly and gradually increase these bursts of intensity, especially if you are not very fit.
Increasing Your Cycling Endurance
Long distance cycling requires a significant amount of endurance training to ensure you have enough energy to keep going. If you are looking to increase your level of endurance, there are a number of things you can do: check out the YouTube video below.
I recommend that you focus on the bigger picture and try to push yourself in small steps. If you try to achieve too much too quickly, you could end up injuring yourself, which will delay your progress further.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you are really set on developing your cycling endurance, you need to make a commitment to your training. Set a routine and stick to it. I recommend doing around four to six hours of aerobic cycling per week.
Within your routine, set realistic goals and gradually increase the difficulty. Start off with an achievable distance and then work towards pushing that distance further every week.
You can also improve the way your body processes and burns fats for extra energy. Try training for an hour or two before breakfast, to help improve your body’s ability to burn fat reserves.
Interval Training for an Extra Boost
While you may want to remain focused on the cycling, adding different cardio and aerobic exercise to your routine will help your endurance. Particularly in the form of interval training. Interval training involves a mixture of high and low impact exercises within one session.
I recommend skipping the cycle training once or twice a week and opting for a session of interval training instead. Not only will the variety prevent you from getting bored, but the nature of the exercise will improve your endurance levels. (3)
Fuel Your Body
Make sure you give your body the fuel it needs to go the distances you have set. Your endurance will be extended so long as there are reserves of glycogen (carbohydrates) in your body. These carbs are stored in the muscles to help keep them working as long as possible.
So, you will need to up your carbohydrate intake to help extend your endurance level. This is particularly important when you start to set yourself bigger targets of longer distances. In order to give your body the fuel it needs, up your carb intake for one or two days before the ride.
Have carbohydrates at every meal, or even every few hours, as well as plenty of water. By carb-loading, you are giving your body a store of glycogen. However, this store will only build up effectively as long as your training is reduced on these days.
Top up the Fuel Tank
It’s important to spend the days before a big ride loading your body’s energy reserves. To maintain an optimal level of endurance, you will also need to eat as you ride. For best results, you should consume between 200 and 400 calories an hour, in either solid or liquid form.
Try to eat at twenty-minute intervals, aiming for about sixty grams of carbohydrates per hour. By keeping your energy tank constantly topped up, you are giving your body the fuel it needs to keep going. (4)
The key to increasing your cycling endurance is in the fuel and the training. Just like a car won’t function without gas, your body will not function without glucose, which is produced from carbohydrate intake.
Higher levels of endurance will also be achieved through your commitment to training. The most effective ways to increase your cycling endurance are:
- Setting clear targets and goals.
- Committing yourself to regular training sessions, at least two to three times a week.
- Maintaining the correct amount of fuel to keep your body going. Carbs, carbs, carbs!
Good luck working on your cycling endurance, I really hope this advice has helped. If you have any queries or want to share your story please leave a comment below!