Unless you have been living in a cave for the past few years, you will have undoubtedly heard of CrossFit. Crossfit training is an intense, gym-based program which focuses on general fitness—endurance, stamina, strength, power, flexibility, speed, coordination, and accuracy. In other words, all things that benefit cyclists and pretty much every other sports person.
There are a number of reasons why the general public and elite sportsmen love crossfit. The gyms (Or boxes as they call them) create a great community, providing healthy competition amongst members whilst improving and correcting muscular imbalances which can be caused by long hours in the saddle.
Many cyclists toy with the idea of crossfit and question whether it is specific enough to improve their performance on the bike. We have broke down whether crossfit is right for you as a cyclist.
The Casual Commuter
If you have been churning out the same old routine, riding a few days a week and performing a light gym workout every now and again—it might be time to change things up. Crossfit will give you that opportunity to add variety to your program. Supplementing your riding with strength training and metabolic conditioning workouts will not only improve your cycling performance, but you’ll also make major physical gains. And lets face it who doesn’t want to look good in lycra!? Crossfit with movements like squats, lunges and deadlifts will also help you develop more access to power helping you accelerate more easily and recover quicker.
The Seasonal Rider
If you are one of those riders that hits the saddle hard in the warmer months and leaves the bike tucked away in the shed for the winter season, then creating an off season plan to include Crossfit training could pay dividends when it comes back round to riding season. CrossFit can offer you the opportunity to strength train while pushing your aerobic and anaerobic capacity. The program will also provide a fun and competitive atmosphere that frequent participants find very addictive. Trust me! Plus, if you live in the North of the UK or just the UK in general, CrossFit classes will provide a nice break from trying to cycle through any rough weather.
The Experienced Rider
If you are a millennial, the intense, strenuous workouts will most likely appeal to you. But if you are somewhat more of an "experienced" rider, the idea of kettlebell swings and box jumps might not be the best way to progress as a rider at this point in your cycling career.
Staying injury free is always the number one goal, and the risk of injury can dramatically increase with ballistic movements. If you fall into this demographic, I suggest you either focus solely on strength training or if you are adamant on crossfit then see if they do a scaled workout or if they have a class for the older members of the box.
The Serious Cyclist
If cycling is your life and performance is always the top goal, then you will require specificity in your cycling program.
You need to spend the majority of your time in the saddle, cranking out mile after mile. That is not to say you shouldn’t be doing some sort of cross training, but you should probably direct your focus, time and energy toward the bike.
If you want to be the next great cyclist, your training needs to reflect those goals. However there won’t be any harm in giving it a go.
So there you have it - if you are thinking of giving crossfit a go to improve your cycling ability, then at least try it and see what you think. You could see some serious improvements in power and speed, not to mention having a bit of fun.