Are you a seasoned indoor cycling enthusiast? Maybe you’re a more recent cyclist who has discovered a love for riding. When you’re hopping on the saddle at any level, a goal that unites most is to rock your workout - to improve your fitness. But contrary to traditional conventional wisdom, increasing your cycling performance isn’t just about pushing the pedals harder. In fact, recovery is a crucial - and increasingly appreciated - necessity of any successful fitness routine.
What does recovery really mean though, beyond a trending buzzword? And how do you successfully approach and design a smart recovery regimen? We brought these very questions to several of the most luminary experts to share their insights, including –
Spinning® Global Master Instructor Team Manager & Senior Advisor
Luciana is a 35-year fitness industry veteran, with a 24-year tenure at Mad Dogg Athletics, focusing on global education, event development, production and execution, and talent recruiting and mentoring.
Alicia Romano RDN
Indoor Cycling Instructor at Crunch Gym, Move True
Tip 1: You are what you eat - and drink!
Whether you’re riding or recovering, a resounding takeaway is that what you put into your body - or don’t - matters.
“Pay attention to your nutrition and hydration, ensuring you replenish your body with the necessary nutrients and fluids after a workout,” advises Beth.
“Recovery doesn't have to be complicated or expensive to be effective!” offers Alicia. “In fact, I find that what works best for me and B/SPOKE RIDERs (as well as STRENGTH/YOGA clients) starts with a strong foundation: adequate hydration before and after your workout, nourishing food throughout the day (especially around workouts)...
Drink 1/2 your body weight in fluid ounces throughout the day, with water being the best option. If you find you sweat out a lot of salt or are prone to muscle cramps after workouts, consider some electrolyte replacement.
Eat adequate amounts of nourishing foods throughout the day, including fruits, veggies, protein foods, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. This is the fuel your body needs to get through a workout and repair muscles. Try a carbohydrate + protein snack or meal after workouts to aid in muscle repair!”
We love the specificity of these pointers. For more on fueling your workout through what you eat, catch our feature with Amy Schlinger here.
Tip 2: Hit the yoga mat
“Yoga is a must for lengthening those tight cycling muscles and giving me a good dose of tranquility,” shares Luciana.
“Usually, after class, I do a mountain pose, focusing on the lower back,” specifies Julian. “It's also a great way to check in on riders and new members and thank them for coming. (Also, for instructors: it lets them see the calmer side of you!)”
“Consider adding yoga sessions to your recovery plan, as it can enhance flexibility, balance, and overall relaxation,” guides Beth.
We’re a huge fan of yoga to complement riding. Looking for additional off-the-bike options to recover and prime yourself for riding success? You’ll love our expert-powered guide to level-up your indoor cycling skills - off the bike!
Tip 3: Stretch & breathe!
Central to yoga practice (without requiring yoga) are stretching and breathing.
“Practice stretching exercises to lengthen and relax your muscles, reducing post-workout soreness,” explains Beth. “Incorporate foam rolling into your routine to help release muscle tension and improve flexibility.”
“Take deep breaths. Focus on counting up and down at a slow pace,” instructs Julian. “With stretches, focusing on the lower back and hip openers is an excellent recovery.”
For a variety of additional specific stretch and mobility moves, dive into our detailed conversation with Matthew Smith, the Owner of REVO Physiotherapy and Sports Performance.
Tip 4: Recovery can also be active
Ever heard the maxim, ‘movement is medicine?’ Active methods to recover also count.
“My Type A mind tends to do battle with my physiologist mind, so active recovery is my go-to - preferably in the outdoors to leverage the benefits of mental recovery as well,” Luciana points out.
“Nature hikes are perfect for mind/body restoration and help me press the reset button for tough training ahead on the Spinner® bike.”
We love Luciana’s perspective on actively recovering in the great outdoors. For your endeavors in nature, Shimano’s got you covered with all the right gear.
Tip 5: Don’t forget to sleep & rest
Remember, recovery is about recuperating!
“Before you consider fancy supplements or recovery devices, try some tried and true tricks that lay the best foundation,” Alicia suggests. “Prioritize sleep after intense bouts of exercise, and be sure to plan rest days or lower-impact exercise/cross-training days to keep your body balanced and ready for the next ride…Incorporate things that reduce day-to-day stress, like a long shower or bath.”
“Give yourself enough rest and recovery time between rides to allow your body to repair and rebuild, preventing overexertion and promoting optimal performance,” emphasizes Beth.
It’s proven that proper sleep and rest allow our bodies and minds to repair - for the next ride and beyond.
Tip 6: Normalize Menopause Mindfulness
“Now, to be candid: I'm committed to normalizing the conversation around fitness and menopause,” Luciana underscores. “As a 56-year-old athlete on my 8th year of hormone replacement therapy, it's been a wild and uncomfortable ride which has required me to adjust my training and recovery plan often.
My humble advice to other female athletes struggling: give yourself space and grace. Adrenal fatigue, lack of sleep, hot flashes, anxiety, etc. are all reasons to re-evaluate your work/rest. When you need more recovery, take it.”
With more than 1 million women in the US experiencing menopause for the first time each year (and growing), there is a strong need to continue the conversation around fitness and menopause. A major thank-you to Luciana for being committed to elevating this too-often-neglected, but incredibly important subject.
Ready to embark on your next steps to amplify your recovery routine?
A final thought from Luciana:
“We live in a society where 'busy-ness' is associated with success; breaking this 'more is more' mindset in fitness can be tricky, but what's helped my Spinning® students really grasp the benefits of recovery is that numbers don't lie! They love tracking watts, heart rate and kJs metrics, as it's proof that strategically-positioned recovery in a solid training plan renders better performance over time, whatever their specific goals may be.”
In conclusion, elevating your recovery between rides encompasses both physical rest and beyond — nourish your body, calm the mind, and embrace a holistic approach to well-being. Even by incorporating just one of these expert insights at a time, you can create a recovery routine that supports your fitness journey and helps you reach new heights on the bike. Remember - each step you take towards prioritizing your total wellness brings you closer to achieving your cycling goals. So, take your time and space, and watch as your rides become stronger than ever before.