Spin® Life Blog

​Cross Training: Riding Outdoors

​Cross Training: Riding Outdoors

Posted by Spinning® on Jul 23rd 2020

Outdoor cross training is an excellent way to develop and maintain cardiovascular and core strength, especially these days when gyms or cycling studios may be off-limits.

Road and mountain biking are ideal cross training sports for Spinning® enthusiasts since they draw on our existing cycling experience and fitness base developed in Spinning® class. It only makes sense that we take a break from time to time to get out and enjoy these incredible sports. Whether you prefer dirt or pavement, riding outside presents its own set of obstacles: head winds, tight turns, slick roads, rocks, stumps, sand, mud, and screaming descents that make it all worthwhile.


Although both sports improve endurance, road riding works best. It's always accessible and incredibly efficient. That's why most cross-country mountain bikers do most of their training on the road-they can log twice as many miles in half the time.

Road riding also helps cyclists get well acquainted with their saddles, and we all know that's important. Whether your goal is 20 miles, a century or prepping for race season, get out on the road and settle in for a few hours-the more the better; on extended climbs, in and out of the saddle, and long flats, with head winds for added resistance.


Mountain biking, on the other hand, is great conditioning for speed and agility. Since terrain typically varies, ranging from smooth fire roads to rocky, technical single-track and sandy slickrock, mountain biking not only tests your fitness, it also hones bike-handling skills and forces you to quite literally, switch gears quickly.

Typically, mountain bike trails consist of rollers, or descents that immediately transition into a short, steep climbs, and vice versa. Hill climbing is precisely where mountain and road riding part ways: while you can climb out of the saddle on a road bike for extended periods of time, you can't on dirt. The reason?

Unless you're on a fire road, sand and loose rocks decrease traction and cause the back wheel to slip out. By using smaller gears, pedaling quickly and shifting body weight forward, you can gain enough momentum to sprint to the top. That's why, for the most part, climbing on a mountain bike forces muscles to perform in short bursts-on climbs that always seem to pop up after a well-deserved descent as well as those we always expect, like grinding fire roads that lead back up to the car.