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A re you fit to ride?

Published online: Nov 07, 2010 Sledheads Irina Adams
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Have you ever been out of breath when you got to the top of the hill? The likely answer is yes; we've all been there. Breathing is the most fundamental function of the human body, but very few of us pay any attention to it.
In fact most people take short, shallow breaths which deprive their bodies of vital oxygen resulting in inferior muscle use, lower energy levels and less ability to concentrate. Even worse than shallow breathing is the fact that many people hold their breath in intense situations.
If you are looking to get in shape to ride this season, cardio is a must in your training program. Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise, which means any exercise that benefits the heart and lungs. Cardio strengthens your heart so it can effectively deliver oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, decreasing fatigue when you ride and helping you avoid the dreaded arm pump. It also increases your lung capacity, decreases risks of heart disease and can help you shed a few unwanted pounds.
Walking, running, swimming and biking are just a few examples of cardio. Any activity that gets your heart rate into a Target Heart Rate Zone and keeps it there over a period of time is considered cardio. To find your max heart rate and your Target HR Zone you will need to take the number 220, subtract your age and that is a starting point for your max HR.
For example, the average 40-year-old would have an average max heart rate of 180, a 45 year-old would be 175 and so on. Now you need to find your Target Zone. Sixty percent of your max HR = bottom of Target Zone. Seventy-five percent of your max HR = top of Target Zone. Training in this range produces the best overall fitness results for the recreational athlete. If you have been sedentary for some time, you may want to start your program at as low as 50 percent of your max HR.
A heart-rate monitor is needed to help you attain and stay in your Target Zone. At this stage, you don't need anything too fancy, just one that gives you a constant readout and upper and lower settings, along with a wireless chest strap.
Now you are ready to train. Staying in your Target Zone for at least 40 minutes 3-4 times a week is a good start. Do not try to reach your Max Target HR right away. Take your time and you will gradually increase your performance. In time, you will be able to increase the time you spend training and your results will increase as well. Training like this will allow you to ride longer, with less fatigue and recover faster with less muscle soreness.
Cardio does not have to be hated torture. Get creative. For example, dirt biking and mountain biking are great cardio cross training activities that can condition you for the winter season. Playing sports like soccer, football and/or basketball can be all the training you need. Whatever you do, remember that the effort you put into your training equals the benefit you get out of it.
Staying in shape and maintaining body weight is the cheapest horsepower out there.
Consult with your doctor before starting any training program.
Check out www.nextlevelclinics.com.