How to Start Cycling to Get Fit and Strong

Cycling for exercise can take you far outside the confines of the gym.
Image Credit: gbh007/iStock/GettyImages may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.

Cycling for exercise is a bit different from exploring your neighborhood on two wheels as a kid. The pedaling motion hasn't changed much, but now there's traffic on your commute and a bike seat that doesn't feel as cushy as it used to.

But there's plenty to celebrate about cycling that'll bring back that school's out! feeling: Riding a bike helps you build endurance, spend more time in nature and even lose weight, if that's your personal goal.


This guide to cycling will help you fall in love with the sport and ride strong.

Before You Get on a Bike

Whether you're biking on the road, on the trail or at the gym, keeping a few beginner guidelines in mind can help you make the most of your cycling workouts.
Image Credit: Hero Images/Hero Images/GettyImages

Maybe you've never ridden seriously before or you've been out of the cycling game for decades — either way, no problem! Everyone has to start somewhere, and we highly recommend that biking beginners start here:


  1. Invest in the right gear, including, of course, a bike (even if it's the old 10-speed in your garage). The pros at your local bike shop can be a huge help.
  2. Try out and decide on the cycling setting that's best for you: indoors, outdoors or a happy balance of both.
  3. Gradually build up your time in the saddle, distance and speed. Signing up for a charity race or setting a goal to ride to a specific destination can help you stay motivated week after week.

Gear Up

The right cycling gear — from your helmet to your clip-in shoes — can make hard workouts feel easier.
Image Credit: vladimir_karpenyuk/iStock/GettyImages

The best cycling gear keeps you safe and comfortable, no matter the conditions. After the essential helmet, you'll want to invest in a pair of padded cycling shorts to alleviate pressure on your sit bones and comfy cycling gloves to ease soreness in your hands, wrists and forearms. And once you're ready to pick up your pace, it's time for clip-in shoes.


Let's Take It Inside

Indoor cycling makes it easy to stick to a workout schedule when the weather doesn't cooperate.
Image Credit: pixdeluxe/E+/GettyImages

Indoor cycling — either at a studio or at home — is a workout-schedule savior when the weather doesn't cooperate for an outdoor ride. Forecast aside, hopping in the indoor saddle has plenty of perks: It's gentle on your joints, safer than pedaling on the road and can help ease stress. Discover your different options for indoor cycling so you can set up the perfect at-home space.


Find the Perfect Cycling Workout for You

Grab your bike and hit the road for training rides or interval workouts.
Image Credit: primeimages/iStock/GettyImages

You don't have to spend hours pedaling to see gains from biking. After a warm-up, a few choice intervals — either build speed, crank up the resistance or find your nearest hill — will lift your heart rate and test your endurance. Cycling apps can help you track your distance and pace so you can measure your improvement over time.


These routines for every fitness level will challenge any cyclist.

Don't Forget to Cross-Train

Strength training and yoga both complement a regular cycling routine.
Image Credit: LightFieldStudios/iStock/GettyImages

Cross-training improves any workout routine, but it's especially important for cyclists who spend lots of time hunched over their handlebars. A few easily implemented yoga poses can stretch sore muscles, build flexibility and potentially ward off a future injury or poor posture. And strength-training exercises, such as squats, planks and step-ups, can help you pedal smoother, ride faster and log more miles before tuckering out.

Reasons to Ride More

Biking can help you improve your heart health, build muscle and burn calories.
Image Credit: Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/GettyImages

Sure, swapping a bike ride for your usual drive or bus commute helps you squeeze more physical activity into your day. But even just a little cycling can improve your productivity and your mood. Plus, according to Harvard Health Publishing, you'll burn nearly three times as many calories as walking!

You'll be convinced to dust off your old road bike thanks to these health benefits of cycling.