You don’t have to be a world-class trickster like BMX pro rider Mat Hoffman or a Tour de France winner like Lance Armstrong to reap the many benefits of cycling. Truth be told, regular outdoor cycling is a great cross-training activity for martial artists that can help you advance your skill level, all while building on your genetic gifts. In addition to saving the environment and burning calories, cycling can have many other benefits for the modern-day martial artist.
It helps you build muscle
Cycling is one of the best forms of aerobic exercise as it can work on different muscles around your body simultaneously. As you ride a bike, the legs are usually doing the bulk of the work. The vigorous extension and contraction of the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and feet results in stronger and more defined legs. With such strong legs, martial artists are able to generate more power when kicking, in addition to being quicker on their feet when moving around the ring or evading attacks. Cycling also works on upper body muscles; maintaining a constant posture while cycling works on your core, while leaning forward and gripping the handlebars works on the biceps, triceps and shoulders. Boosting upper body strength is vital for martial artists as it helps them unload more powerful strikes at greater speeds.
It boosts stamina
Cycling can do wonders for your stamina; it gets the oxygen pumping and blood flowing, which allows your heart to handle more activity without tiring. A boost in stamina is vital for martial artists. Whether you’re engaged in a sparring session, competing in a cage, rolling on the mats, or challenging for a belt, stamina is a vital part of the MMA lifestyle. Solid stamina will keep you sharper and less exhausted, allowing you to last longer than your opponents in fights.
It promotes mental well-being
Being an MMA fighter has its fair share of stress, especially in the days leading up to a big fight. The pressure to win and maintain performance at the highest levels can be overwhelming for a fighter. Cycling regularly can help alleviate such stress and boost your mental health in various ways. One way that cycling boosts mental health is by dealing with anxiety, which commonly affects MMA fighters. You can bike at a higher intensity to relieve anxiety faster, but even gentle cycling can help you reach a better mental state. Cycling can also serve as an antidepressant and improve your mood when you’re feeling low. It also helps you sharpen your focus, which develops you into a better fighter.
It improves coordination and balance
Cycling requires you to maintain perfect control and balance on a two-wheeled vehicle, which can be tricky when there are numerous twists, turns or bumps on the path you’re taking. Balance is just as important to martial artists as it is to cyclists. In a competition, an MMA fighter needs to maintain their balance effectively to be able to engage opponents without getting caught out of position. Balance also helps fighters stay on their feet even when the opponent lands heavy strikes.
Cycling is more than just a hobby to kill time. Whether you’re looking to build muscle, improve balance and coordination, boost stamina, or improve your mental health, taking up cycling could be one of the most important decisions you ever make for your MMA career.
Jess Walter is a freelance writer and mother. She loves the freedom that comes with freelance life and the additional time it means she gets to spend with her family and pets.