10 Things Only Cyclists Do When Exercising off the Bike - Total Women's Cycling

Latest news, reviews and features for women who like to ride.



10 Things Only Cyclists Do When Exercising off the Bike

Hitting the gym, swimming pool or going running? We bet you do some of these...

It’s that time of year when many cyclists start looking for alternative forms of exercise to help boost their performance on the bike. It’s not because we don’t love cycling – but because it’s good to vary up your training from time to time. And sometimes the weather is so hideous we’d rather be indoors. 

The Best forms of Cross Training for Cyclists 

The Perfect 60 Minute Gym Workout for a Cyclist 

Whilst you can take the cyclist off the bike, you really can’t take the biking out of the cyclist. As a result, die hard bike riders taking part in other forms of exercise tend to have some amusing habits.

Here are just a few…

Wearing bib shorts or padded shorts to the gym

Even if you’re only going to spin on the bike for 10 minutes to warm up before moving on to other activities – such as strengthening exercises – you still wear your best bib shorts or padded cycling shorts.

Why? Well – you experienced enough undercarriage distraction in the days before you wore padded shorts so as far as you’re concerned you’ll be wearing them for any bike related workout, even if it’s just the warm up.

… And though you’re pretty sure your rippling quads do the job, you want to make sure everyone knows you’re a cyclist.

Take your cycling computer with you – during all workouts

Unless you’re a triathlete (who probably uses a multisport watch) then it’s likely you record most of your rides on a cycling computer like a Garmin. And then you probably upload your rides to Strava, Garmin Connect, Training Peaks, other.

But what about runs, or gym workouts, that you still want to upload? No problem – you just carry your computer with you. On the run, you’ll still measure mileage, and in the gym you switch it to indoor mode and wear a heart rate monitor.

No brainer, right?

Just try to ignore the confused looks as you accidentally press ‘pause’ whilst doing your best downward facing dog.

Ensure gym bike straps are tight enough and measure saddle height

Say you want to keep riding – but it’s misurable outside, so you head to the gym or a spin class. 

Most ‘normal human beings’ get on a gym bike, perhaps shift around with the saddle height a bit, and then start to pedal.

Cyclists take a different approach.

Firstly: we often arrive with cycling shoes, and ask if the pedals can be compatible with our cleats (some are)

Secondly: If we can’t use our cycling shoes, we fiddle around with the foot strap to get it AS TIGHT AS POSSIBLE so our feet aren’t wiggling around in a way that is – quite frankly – alien

Thirdly: we carefully sit on the saddle, and cycle the pedal to the lowest point. We place the heel of our foot on the pedal. Is the leg fully extended? Yes? Then when we put our foot in the pedal we’re good to go. If not, the saddle height goes up or down and we start again. Because no one needs extra knee pain in life.

We also find ourselves battling the temptation to tell everyone that NOT ALL SADDLES ARE THIS BAD. 

Pedal with one leg on a gym bike

Cyclists know that pedalling efficiency is paramount – and that one way to help train your body to do what your brain knows it should is to break it up. Pedalling with one leg forces you to use that leg as efficiently as possible meaning that when you bring them both together you can try to maintain that even stroke.

So you do it on the gym bike. You know it makes sense. Everybody else thinks you’re a weirdo.

Run holding bike lights

You’ve seen trail runners hot-stepping it with cool headlamps strapped to their foreheads, right? Well – you haven’t got one of those and you’re not about to invest – but you do have a bike light!

Extra points if you’ve considered wearing your helmet and mounting the light to your head.

Pedal legs when swimming

Confession: this might just be me. I swim with a swimming club full of ‘people who actually swim properly’ and I’m told my backstroke kick looks particularly pedal-like. To be honest, it’s probably similar in front crawl but harder to spot (thanks to all the splashing as I try to make up for my weak arms…)

Go on and on and on about how EASY going running is


Anyone who has taken up running after a long stint of exercising only on wheels will know there’s nothing easy about the actual running. But getting ready? Total doddle.

Socks. Trainers. Tights. Sports bra. Top.


Bike. Tube. Pump. Tyre levers. Lights. Sports bra. Base layer. Tights. Jersey. Buff. Gloves. Socks. Shoes. Overshoes.

You get where we’re going.

Feel oddly proud of your strong legs/weak arm combination

You know perfectly well that a little extra arm strength might actually help you to be a better cyclist – resulting in less fatigue, especially when climbing. But you sort of like embodying one of the sport’s most well known cliches with your mega strong legs and utterly puny arms…

Talk to everyone about cycling

You’re in your yoga class, circuit training class, kettlebell class – any environment that involves exercise that’s not cycling. Yet you just can’t help but relate everything back to the bike.

“This exercise would really benefit my cycling…”

“I can’t do this one because of this injury I’ve got… from crashing whilst cycling…”

“This weekend? Oh – I’ll be cycling…”

When you realise you’re doing it again, you quickly think of something you can ask about yoga, circuit training or kettlebell-ing. It’s just difficult to ADJUST to this whole new exercising environment when most of your friends are cyclists!


No? Just these guys? Ok – we’ll let you off that one.

You might also like… 

Seven Most Common Strava Personalities

The Best Cross Training Exercises for Cyclists 

5 Useless Gym Exercises to Stop Doing Now and What to do Instead


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.