How to Make the Most of Your Bicycle Workout (and 3 Charity Bike Events)

Not just an earth-friendly way to get from point A to B, biking is a great way to get some fresh air, take in the views and burn some calories while you’re at it.

Biking is an excellent cardiovascular workout, says Tyler Spraul, a C.S.C.S.-certified head trainer at Exercise.com. It also falls in the low-impact exercise category (read: no pounding the pavement like running, so it’s easier on your joints, Spraul says.)

Beyond the spin class at your gym — which is great when you can’t get outside on a bike — Spraul shares some other ways you can condition yourself for the road and shares tips for torching more calories once you hit the trails.

1. Boost Your Endurance

To prepare for a summer on the bike, Spraul recommends focusing more on endurance than pure strength. When you’re working with free weights or doing bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges, you can increase repetitions in each set and decrease the resting time between those sets.

2. Pick Up the Jump Rope

Add some jump roping into your workouts. The basic workout you can do just about anywhere is another major endurance booster.

3. Hit the Yoga Mat

“Since you’re in a hunched posture during biking, doing some yoga workouts to ‘open up’ a little bit would be beneficial as well,” Spraul says.

4. Vary Your Routes and Speed

Once on the trails, choose a route with frequent inclines and hills and pick up your speed when climbing to increase your calorie burn.

5. Ready, Set, Sprint!

If your route is always going to be flat, you can do frequent sprint intervals on your bike. This turns your regular bike ride into more of a High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) workout with repeated cycles of work and rest. HITT workouts, Spraul says, are great for weight loss because they create an oxygen deficit that your body has to work to overcome in order to recover. Because of that, he explains, you’re torching extra calories, leading to increased weight loss.

Bike for Good

By biking instead of driving, you’re always doing better by Mother Earth, but there are plenty of other ways you can bike for a cause. Here are a few of our favorite charity rides to participate in this summer:

Bike the Drive

May 28

The length of Lake Shore Drive is open to cyclists and closed to auto traffic. This event benefits the Active Transportation Alliance, a nonprofit that works to make biking, walking and public transit safe, convenient and fun.

Chicago: Bike the Drive

Photo courtesy of the Active Transportation Alliance.

Bike Commuter Challenge

June 16-23

Leave your car at home and commute to work on a bike. Bonus if you can run errands on your bike, too. The week will include rallies, parties and contests.

Venus de Miles

July 22

This women-only bike ride, 5K run and finish-line festival help raise money for Greenhouse Scholars, which provides scholarships for low-income students.