The Beginner’s Guide to Cycling for Fitness

cycling for fitness

The Fitness Cycling Lowdown

Looking to switch up your same boring workout routine? Looking to get into fitness cycling? Check out this article that will help you get started fitness cycling and adding excitement back into your routine!

Fitness cycling beginner tips

Is your fitness routine taking you places, or do you feel like you’re just running on a treadmill?

Or perhaps in circles around the same track every day? If you are getting bored at the gym, consider hopping on a bicycle. Cycling is a fast and fun form of exercise that burns more calories than walking and puts less stress on your joints. Cycling can also be practical. Choosing a bicycle instead of a car or public transportation also saves money and is good for the environment.

Like Riding a Bike

The Beginner's Guide to Getting Into Fitness CyclingIt’s a common misconception that riding a bike again for the first time since you were a child is easy. If it’s been a while, you may need to start slow and get your bearings before hitting the trail or the open road.

If you never learned to ride a bike, it’s not too late. Get a friend or family member to teach you or search for videos and tutorials online.

Choosing a Bike

If your cycling consists of leisurely rides around town, a cruiser is perfect for you. Cruisers may be the best choice for a novice, but keep in mind that you will quickly outgrow this bike if your goal is fitness. A road bike is best if you plan to ride long distances or get serious exercise.

If you live in an area with dirt or gravel roads or you plan to bike on trails, a mountain bike is a way to go (get a full bike breakdown here).

The next most important step, after choosing the type of bike for your needs, is to make sure it’s the right size. The frame size of most bikes is the measurement, in inches, from the crank (what the pedals are attached to) and the seat clamp.

If you have chosen a cruiser, finding something that’s comfortable should be enough for your needs. Mountain and road bike sizing requires a bit more attention. To avoid injury and maintain maximum control, it’s important to have a correctly sized bike.

A good rule of thumb is to have your bike seat at a height that leaves a slight bend in the knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke, and a frame size that leaves one to three inches of clearance between the tube and your inseam when you straddle the bike. But the length of the bike frame, the height of the frame, and the diameter of the wheels must also be considered.

Before getting into serious bike exercise, it’s best to consult your local bike shop for a proper fitting. This will help you avoid back, neck, and shoulder pain, and help keep your exercise enjoyable.

Finding a Route

Where your cycle can have a big impact on how much you enjoy the experience. Before choosing a route, write down some of your cycling goals. Do you want to start biking to work, start getting around town, or do you want to do it because it’s the ultimate form of exercise?

The Beginner's Guide to Getting Into Fitness Cycling bikeNo matter your goal, you should work toward them in stages. If you want to bike to work, choose a shorter route to practice on first, and gradually increase the distance until you’re confident. For exercise, don’t be afraid to push yourself, and set challenges.

Vary the route regularly, increase the distance, add some hills, and you’ll be surprised where cycling can take you.

Cycling Safety

Bicycling comes with more safety risks than stationary forms of exercise like spinning or walking on a treadmill. When riding on roads with cars and pedestrians, make sure you are up to date on all local traffic rules. Many states consider bicycles vehicles, and they are subject to the same rules as automobiles. Check with your state’s DMV for information on bicycle traffic laws.

Ride in designated bike lanes whenever possible and avoid busy streets with fast-moving traffic.

Whether you are cycling on a city street or a mountain trail, safety equipment is a must (make sure to change up your cycling routine). Never ride without wearing your bike helmet. Knee and elbow pads are not necessary, but they are a good idea if you fall or crash often. Use reflectors or lights when cycling at night.

Before you leave, make sure that someone knows your route and when to expect you to return, and never go out without a way to contact help.


Whenever and wherever you ride, fitness cycling is an effective form of exercise, transportation, and entertainment rolled into one package.

Grab a bike, get fit and get going!

Marlena Stoddard currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two kids, and puppy Molly Belle. She much prefers cycling to jogging in Georgia’s summer heat. State bicycle law information provided by Hansen Injury Law Firm, personal injury & accident lawyers in Boise, Idaho.
Marlena Stoddard
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