8 tips for getting fitter on your commute

Mix things up on your ride to work to make it more fun while maximising your fitness

If you're struggling to find time to improve your fitness, why not add some fitness training to your daily commute?

Here are a few tips on how you can up your ride-to-work performance and make the most of this time, and potentially keep things interesting too.

1. Get the hammer down

Use enforced stops at junctions as opportunities to practice your acceleration. 

Get the power on as fast as you can for ten seconds and swiftly flick up through the gears, before settling down to a sustainable pace.

2. Extend your route

You’ve got your kit on and you’re out there anyway, so why not add some extra endurance training by simply increasing the length of your ride? 

Turn one standard evening commute into your week’s big training ride and you’ll have more time to play with over the weekend.

3. Vary the intensity

Traffic will influence how hard you can ride, but you can also vary the intensity.

Aim for most of your rides to be at 60–80 percent of your maximum effort, but add a weekly 90 percent blast, if conditions allow, to help boost your top-end speed.

4. Find a new route

Riding the same way day after day can become uninspiring.

Get out a map and find a new route — there are always more options to explore.

Make like Danny MacAskill and think of your commute route as parkour for bicycles!
Make like Danny MacAskill and think of your commute route as parkour for bicycles!

5. Add resistance

Use higher gears than normal so that your cadence is ultra-low to stimulate the development of your leg strength.

This will affect your ability to accelerate from a standing start though, so be sensible about where you try it.

6. Fartlek training

Also called ‘speedplay’, this is an interval session where the intensity and the duration of each interval is random.

This is ideal for commuting, as junctions and other road users influence how fast you can ride various sections. 

So sprint to the next set of lights, then keep it steady until the mini-roundabout, stay in the saddle up the hill, and so on…

7. Spin fast

Concentrate on spinning your legs fast — about 10 percent quicker than normal.

Resist the urge to shift to a higher gear and, instead, rely on crank rpm to increase your speed. 

Getting used to a higher cadence could improve your endurance and acceleration, so focus on it for at least one ride a week.

8. Hone your skills

Practice trackstanding at lights and junctions — it’s a handy skill to have. If you get it right you’ll look super-cool, and that’s vital!

Can you get all the way home without dabbing your foot?

For more ride to work workouts, check out our video below.

Here are five fun and effective cycle commuter workouts to try

Safety first!

We’re not suggesting that you treat traffic like a playground. Concentrating on your own safety, as well as that of other road users, must always take precedence over developing your fitness.

  • Sponsored: UK readers — can you go the extra mile this summer? By running or cycling to work you can be a part of Red Bull’s UK-wide Million Mile Commute. Join the club in Strava to be eligible for a Red Bull sample kit to set you on your way. Don’t forget to share your commutes by tagging @RedBullUk and use #MillionMileCommute

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Alex has been riding bikes since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. He first raced back in 2003, winning the Juvenile category on a sketchy hard tail Planet X bike. Alex lived in the Alps for seven years so isn't shy of a climb or two and loves getting out in his bike in all weather. His favorite thing to ride is steep loamy tracks with loads of opportunities to slam the bike into turns and really give it some frame bending welly! He's broken his fair share of frames, so any bike between his knees is going to get a right seeing to.
  • Discipline: DH, Enduro, XC, BMX, Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Epic descents covered in the world's finest loam and hero dirt
  • Current Bikes: Nukeproof Mega 275 / Giant Anthem Advanced 275 1 / LeMond Reno / Deluxe Pro 2 BMX
  • Dream Bike: Giant ATX 1 DH (1999 model)
  • Beer of Choice: Teetotal
  • Location: Bristol, UK

Related Articles

Back to top