Winter cross-training  - Bike Magic

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Winter cross-training

Winter cross-training

Keeping fit in the winter isn’t the easiest – the nights are long, it’s cold all the time and all the best trails are buried under a thick layer of wet mud, which apparently puts some people off riding. While many winter wusses plan to use a turbo trainer and go running, we’re betting most don’t do it anywhere near as often as they promised themselves they would back in the summer. And who can blame them – when you’re used to riding bone-dry singletrack all summer, jogging and turbo-training can seem pretty boring in comparison.

If this is you we’re talking about here, then what you need is something sociable, exciting and preferably indoors. And that’s where we come in – this autumn we’re going to run a short series looking at different ways of cross-training to ensure that come spring, you’re not going to get dropped by your buddies the minute the trail slopes upwards. To kick the series off we’re taking a look at boxing (we know, we know).

“Think about the core fitness requirements…”

Boxing is a truly athletic sport and could be a really useful part of winter training for most cyclists. Think about it, what are the core fitness requirements for a boxer? Speed, agility, endurance, co-ordination, flexibility and strength all rank up there and they’re all things that could help improve your riding.

Now before we start reading about BM members organising regional fight clubs in the forums we’d like to make it clear that simple fisticuffs is not a particularly good way of keeping fit. Boxercise classes, where boxing skills and equipment are incorporated into a circuit training session, are held in sports halls across the country and are a good place to start. The effort of working hard for an hour will benefit your endurance while the specific exercises, such as punching a punch bag or a speedball, will improve you co-ordination and strength.

Over the winter it’s difficult to find the stimulus of fast singletrack rides to keep your reflexes in top shape, but you can help maintain and develop these reflexes in the gym by punching a speedball and skipping. What’s more, punching a heavier body bag will help you develop your ability to absorb shock with your upper body, another useful on-the-bike skill.


If you’re not into the idea of going to exercise in a sports hall full of strangers, the best piece of boxing related equipment you can buy for home use would be a skipping rope. If you haven’t tried before you’ll be surprised how tiring skipping is and how much it calls upon good coordination, especially when you’re getting tired.

If you’ve got a turbo-trainer at home, think about incorporating skipping into a short cycling-based circuit routine. An example of a circuit training session that would take less than an hour could be:

  • Warm-up for 10 minutes on the turbo-trainer
  • Five minutes skipping
  • A selection of press-ups, tricep-dips and sit-ups
  • Five minutes skipping
  •  Finish off with 10 minutes cool down on the turbo and
  • 10 minutes of stretching

If you’re interested in giving Boxercise a go, have look at www.boxercise.co.uk or contact your local sports centre.

Next time: Squash

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