The cold and snow can make it nearly impossible to get outside and train. You can bundle up with booties, balaclavas, thermal tights and heavy jackets, but you don't want your cycling workouts to become a chore, and hate your bike by February.
To combat the limitations that winter brings, there are some alternative exercises to bike training. While they don't mimic the exact pedaling motion, they can help maintain fitness without riding.
Cross-Country Skiing1 of 7
There's a reason why cross-country skiers have one of the highest V02 max values of all athletes: This sport is hard. It's a great way to train the heart and lungs and maintain leg strength.
Skate skiing is similar to cross-country, but it's more of a skating motion instead of forward and backward. This type uses more legs than arms, so it can be an even better form of skiing for cyclists. Skate skiers also don't need to continually wax their skis, which makes for easier maintenance.
Running2 of 7
As much as cyclists may hate it, running is beneficial. It's an easy, convenient way to get in a quick cardiovascular workout that is leg dominant. It takes significantly less time to complete a good run workout compared to a bike workout. You can also run after work when the light is starting to fade and it's too dark to ride.
Initially, you should start with a higher frequency of runs and shorter durations. This should help prevent injuries. As your body adapts to the new stress, you can add duration and mix it up with trails and hills.
Hiking/Snowshoeing3 of 7
Hiking is another great activity for winter. Even on cold, snowy days, you can bundle up and head to the trail for a low-intensity cardio workout. When it's too snowy for normal snow boots, try wearing a pair of snowshoes. These are great for active recovery days and help maintain leg strength.
Strength Training4 of 7
Strength training is another common supplement to cycling in the winter. Building functional strength with a focus on core and stabilizing muscles is key to preventing injury.
Doing too much, too soon can leave you sore and unable to do quality bike workouts, so it's best to start with high reps and low weight. Try easing into a strength routine, especially if you haven't done any weight lifting during the race season. After establishing a strong base, you can begin increasing the weight and decreasing the number of reps.
Swimming5 of 7
Similar to running, many cyclists seem to despise swimming. It's a great winter workout though, and with plenty of indoor pools, bad weather isn't an excuse.
Swimming is a full-body activity that helps cyclists work a variety of muscles and get a great cardio workout at the same time. Swimming is also a low-impact sport, so the risk of injury is less compared to running and many other activities.
Rock Climbing6 of 7
Rock climbing is a fun alternative to strength training. It's a great activity for building core and upper body strength without bulking up. It can be done indoors with friends and helps keep you moving and energized during the cold, winter months.
The most important thing during the winter months is to keep moving. Limit the number of nights spent sitting on the couch and eating unhealthy food. This will help keep the weight off, keep your body strong and prepare you for an increased training load in the spring. What you do in the winter will dictate the success of your next race season, so try to get off the couch and be as active as possible.