Cycling Commute: Training Benefits

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“There’s a difference between burning calories and boosting fitness,” says Stephanie Orstad, a corporate wellness coach. While cycling to work expends calories, the junctions and obstacles that slow most commutes can leave your heart puttering far below its target rate.

Turn activity into exercise with Orstad’s techniques for building fitness even on commutes that are bedevilled by traffic lights. But always remember that your safety comes first.

Build: Acceleration

The Drill: Go hard after stopping. While a red light might destroy your flow, think of it as a new starting line. When the light turns green, push off the line with intense energy.

Build: Anaerobic Fitness

The Drill: The burst. From a moderate cruising pace, stand and sprint, reaching your top speed. Your sprints should last between 12 and 20 seconds.

Build: Aerobic Fitness

The Drill: Downshift. Crank your cadence up to 120-plus rpm while focusing on maintaining a smooth, circular pedal stroke.

Build: Muscle

The Drill: Upshift. Reduce your cadence to 40 rpm. Point your toes on the downstroke. Drop your heel on the backstroke.

Build: Efficiency

The Drill: Go mono-pedal. Ride single-legged, one foot on the pedal, with the other foot tucked free of the rotating crankarm. Alternate your propulsion leg every 30 seconds or so.