Fitness & Exercise

Bike towards a stronger, fitter you

This 6-week cycling plan will increase your activity and your cardiovascular fitness.

There is something magical about a bike. Maybe it’s the connection to childhood, or cutting through the wind, or simply getting from point A to B to C without turning a key and pushing a gas pedal. You can do it solo and find your cycling sweet spot. You can ride in groups during lunch hour or during all-morning Sunday odysseys. Simply put, riding a bike is personalized joy. It’s also becoming a lot easier and safer.

Protected bike lanes have quadrupled in the US since 2010, with some designed with curbs, flexible posts, raised medians and parking areas. Many cities—more than 800 worldwide, in fact—now have self-service bike sharing docking stations (in New York City, there is a Citi Bike dock right outside the WW editorial office). And you can always rent a bike at any summer vacation spot known to humanity.

Then, of course, there are the head-to- toe health benefits. Besides getting tanned legs of steel, using two wheels instead of four could ease your stress levels and help you concentrate more at work, according to a study in Preventive Medicine. Looking at 18 years of data on 18- to 65-year-old commuters in Britain, researchers also found those who biked to work felt less of the social isolation and boredom that comes with driving. Plus, you can’t eat while you’re pedaling, and good luck being served at a drive-thru. Finally, like the infomercials say, if you act now and jump on a bike we’ll throw in an amazing bonus: the ability to torch about 700 calories per hour (when riding at 14-16 mph). Now that you’re out of excuses, here’s all you need to know to hit the road.

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Your 6-week biking plan


Get comfortable on the bike while shedding weight and establishing a baseline of cycling fitness with the following 6-week plan designed by Selene Yeager, coauthor of Bike Your Butt Off! (Rodale) and USA Cycling certified coach. Beginners should complete each workout two or three times per week. If you want to amp up the challenge, extend the duration of these rides, or use them in addition to other workouts throughout the week.
NOTE: Higher gears are harder gears; lower gears are easier gears.

 

  Increase intensity
(comfortably hard effort)
Push
(so you’re breathing
a little hard)
Cruise
(easy-to-brisk
pace)
Repeat
WEEK 1:
Turn it on
5 min 1-3 min 2 min 2 more
times
WEEK 2:
Spin it up
5 min Shift into a higher
gear for 1-2 min, shift
to an easy gear and
pedal for 1 min
2 min 2 more
times
WEEK 3:
Speed play
15 min 10 min (every min
sprint for 10 sec)
10-15 min  
WEEK 4:
Ups and downs
5 min 10 min (every min
shift into a higher
gear, stand and
pedal out of the seat
for 10-20 sec)
10-15 min  
WEEK 5:
Ride the line additional
warm-up: 10 min
10 min 10 min (pick up
the pace so you’re
breathing steady
and hard the entire
time)
10-15 min  
WEEK 6:
Crazy 8s additional
warm-up: 5 min
4 min 3 min (and as hard as
you can go for 1 min)
10-15 min Repeat
all but
warm-up

 

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Before starting any new exercise routine, make sure to check in with your doctor.