This is my cycling fitness plan. Before we get too far in, the standard disclaimer has lots of merit—check with your doctor before you begin any exercise plan (seriously). Now that you’ve got that done, we can get started:

  1. Establish Goals
    You probably have some idea where you’d like your weight and physical condition to be six months from now. Most of us want to get fit for three reasons: 1) Feel better, 2) Live longer, 3) Look better. Here’s an idea what the U.S. government feels you should be doing.
  2. Get a Bike
    Maybe the bike you already own is fine, or maybe it just needs to be serviced. If it hasn’t been serviced within the last year, having your old bike tuned up is a minimum. It’ll make a big difference in how the bike feels. You might consider getting a new bike for a couple of reasons: newer bikes are lighter, so they’ll be a lot more fun to ride. Also, if your current bike is a cruiser or mountain bike, it’s not ideal for riding longer distances (over 10 miles). Yes, this is subjective. It’s a comfort issue. Any bike can be ridden 30 miles or more, but you’d be miserable on a cruiser, and the mountain bike has enough rolling resistance to make the ride much more challenging.
  3. Change Your Diet
    If you’re overweight, odds are you’re eating the wrong type of food, and probably too much of it. Notice that this section isn’t called “Go on a Diet.” For the vast majority of obese Americans, this isn’t about going on a diet, it’s about making a lifestyle change (eating healthy foods).
  4. Ride the Bike
    Don’t overdo it! A zealous effort is good, but be careful, you can easily injure yourself or “burn out.” Slow and steady. Try to ride three times a week (or every other day).
  5. Track Your Cycling Progress
    Strava is a great FREE smartphone app for tracking your workouts. Easy to use and VERY informative. After the ride you’ll see a map of your ride, how far you rode, etc. Best part: it lets you if you’ve beaten your previous personal best for various segments of the ride! Works perfectly.
  6. Measure Your Physical Progress
    Track your weight. Scales that measure your body-fat, such as the Tanita scales are great. Get on the scale the same time every day, but don’t freak out if you “fall off the wagon,” or slip for a day. Just “get back on the bike” (literally and figuratively). Consider also tracking your blood pressure and resting pulse. Do these as soon as you wake up in the morning. Blood pressure cuffs have gotten a lot less expensive and easier to use over the last 10 years. I’ve found the Omron cuffs to be reliable, easy to use and quiet. I suspect that other brands are good, as well.