Athletes need to be in peak condition all year round. This doesn’t just mean focusing on muscular development, strength, and speed; you must also ensure that the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems are primed to the perfection of a diesel engine, pumping blood and oxygen to muscles as they continually strive to push the limits of what is physically possible for the human body.
Our hearts are the hardest working muscle in our bodies, and cardio workouts are the key to improved function, as they make the heart go beyond what it’s used to. An effective way for athletes to incorporate cardio into their workout regime is to train on an e-bike.An effective way for athletes to incorporate cardio into their workout regime is to train on an e-bike. Click To Tweet
Staying Fit On an E-Bike for Athletes
Thanks in part to electric bikes, cycling is seeing a resurgence around the world among the general public. E-bikes are typically recommended for those looking for a recreational sport activity or who are just getting started on their fitness journey. However, athletes and advanced bikers can also benefit from them in many ways!
1. Increases the Efficiency of Your Heart
An efficient heart can pump more blood into the muscles with fewer beats per minute. Since blood is the medium through which essential nutrients, including oxygen, are delivered to our muscles, a more efficient heart directly translates into better athletic performance.
E-bike workouts are a great form of cardio because they get your heart rate going. Contrary to popular belief, they offer the same cardiovascular health benefits as a conventional bicycle. While e-bikes do come with a handy pedal-assist feature, it doesn’t mean you won’t pedal at all.
Riding an e-bike usually takes half your energy compared to what it would have taken you on a pedal bike. So you will be burning a large number of calories but not to the point of exhausting yourself completely.
Since an e-bike takes less effort, it has a calorie burn rate that’s closer to what you would get from walking. That said, you could change your speed, ride on an economy setting, or add some ankle weights to increase the intensity of your workout.
2. Improves Your VO2 Max
One of the most important parameters for measuring athletic performance is VO2 max. Put simply, it is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can consume during a workout. Since oxygen is the fuel that the body burns to produce energy, a greater VO2 max directly translates into better athletic performance—especially in sports that require a greater intensity of physical activity.One of the most important parameters for measuring athletic performance is VO2 max. Click To Tweet
Here’s the interesting thing, though: professional cyclists have some of the highest VO2 max levels on the planet. The Norwegian cyclist Oskar Svendsen, for instance, is reported to have the highest VO2 max ever recorded in a human being at 97.5 mL/Kg/min (the average human being has a VO2 max range of 40-45).
The list of highest recorded VO2 maximums has a disproportionately high number of cyclists at the top, with three-time Tour de France winner Greg Le Mond recording a VO2 max of 92.5 and the American professional cyclist Lance Armstrong recording 85.
Of course, not every athlete is training to be a professional cyclist, nor do they need these superhuman levels of oxygen burning capacity. However, practically all athletes can benefit from higher VO2 max levels, and cycling is one of the best ways to improve it.
3. Puts Less Strain on Your Joints
Athletes are more susceptible to joint pain, especially in the knees, due to excessive workouts and constant fitness training. Luckily, electric bikes can help you stay fit without putting much strain on your joints and muscles.Electric bikes can help you stay fit without putting much strain on your joints and muscles. Click To Tweet
Think of an e-bike workout like swimming—you work your heart, you burn a lot of calories, and you work your muscles—all without putting a lot of strain on your joints. Another close comparison would be an elliptical trainer that delivers benefits while going easy on the joints. However, unlike a stationary elliptical trainer, you can actually take your e-bike out for a spin or even commute to work.
The pedal-assist feature makes you move faster without pedaling too hard, taking the strain away from your knees. The throttle is another component that uses extra electricity to push your bike automatically ahead so you can skip pedaling altogether if you’re exhausted or riding uphill.
This way, e-bikes ensure that athletes still get a great workout without damaging their joints or worsening an ongoing knee problem.
4. Makes Training on Your Commute Easy
Any experienced cyclist knows that you need to train as often as possible to extend your range. It can be hard to get at least two to three hours of moderate-intensity workouts every week with a busy schedule, but commuting to work on a bicycle makes it possible. However, riding an e-bike to work has some added advantages over a traditional cycle.Riding an e-bike to work has some added advantages over a traditional cycle. Click To Tweet
E-bikes come with several modes that you can switch between based on how much you’re willing to exert yourself. You can seamlessly change from riding without using the battery to using the throttle if you’re tired or experiencing muscular fatigue. This means you can easily opt for longer rides and won’t be exhausted by the time you reach your office.
5. Aids Weight Loss
Athletes must be a certain weight for specific sports like gymnastics, boxing, and martial arts. If you play these sports and are trying to qualify for a weight division, e-biking can help you shed the excess pounds in time for a tournament.
As stated earlier, e-bikes allow you to burn calories and fat nearly as effectively as a conventional bike does—even with the pedal-assist mode on. Of course, to reach your desired weight goal, it’s important to pay attention to your diet as well.
6. Stimulates Your Muscles
Athletes looking to train their legs every day will find that cycling is a great exercise. If you’ve observed a professional cyclist closely, you will know that they have very well-developed leg muscles, including quadriceps and calves. It not only strengthens your lower body and eliminates any signs of stiffness but can also help athletes build better overall endurance.
Just like a conventional bike, every pedal stroke on an e-bike stimulates your quads and hamstrings, one of the major muscle groups in the human body. Since e-bikes are a little heavier, they also help you lose weight and tone your calf muscles. In fact, an electric bike can exercise your glutes, biceps, triceps, and abs, too.Just like a conventional bike, every pedal stroke on an e-bike stimulates your quads and hamstrings, one of the major muscle groups in the human body. Click To Tweet
7. Boosts Your Riding Time
Getting an e-bike means athletes can ride more often and for greater distances. Most people find that their weekly ride times increase as cycling becomes easier and more fun. The various e-bike modes allow you to keep your workouts flexible and gradually enhance your speed, range, and overall performance.
8. Encourages You to Explore New Terrains
Remember that childhood thrill of exploration when you went around the neighborhood on your bicycle with the wind in your hair, the sun on your back, and the world looking brand new, ready to be explored?
An e-bike is a perfect way to return to that childhood joy of cycling, as unlike a conventional bicycle, it makes the transition from four wheels to two a lot smoother. Whether you’re an avid mountain biker or just want to make your training experiences more fun, an e-bike is perfect for expeditions that blend the thrill of exploration with the fun of cycling.
Based on the motor that you use, e-bikes make it possible for athletes to explore different routes across a variety of terrains. Electric bikes with a larger motor allow for better control over rocky and slippery surfaces. They also give you greater power so you can traverse up a steep incline.
E-Bikes for Sports Rehab
Sports rehab helps injured athletes get back to training after an injury without putting them at risk. E-bikes are great for sports rehab as they allow you to exercise without putting much strain on the body, helping you build your body back safely.E-bikes are great for sports rehab as they allow you to exercise without putting much strain on the body. Click To Tweet
To start with this rehab, you might use the e-bike first to go through the cycling motion and slowly use it. You can rely on the motor and use as little energy of your own as you want. Once the body gets used to those motions, you can gradually reduce the motor power and start generating your own strength, bringing the body back to use.
Getting back to doing physical activity after an injury can be a huge addition to an athlete’s life as it brings back momentum and joy that they might have felt was lost. This kind of progressive sports rehab plan will help the athlete achieve whatever goal they are aiming for and get back to their original strength levels.
Any workout depends on how frequently one does it and how much effort is used. E-bikes are great in the sense that one can adjust the level of assistance they require. This makes the cardio intense if the setting chosen is lower. Hence, you will use a lot more force, put in more effort, and give your heart a great and powerful workout.
Do keep in mind that riding Class 2 e-bikes does not require pedaling since a throttle propels them. So, for cardio workouts, your best option is to go for a Class 1 (low speed) or Class 3 (high speed) e-bike, both of which require pedaling.
E-bikes make a great option for all ages and bodies. So even though normal pedal bikes are more demanding physically, the amount of time spent on an e-bike is usually higher, which means sufficient cardio workouts.E-bikes make a great option for all ages and bodies. Click To Tweet
High impact workouts can help athletes raise their heart rate and oxygen levels, and quickly burn a lot of calories. Training at a higher intensity level means you control the effort you put in while maintaining a higher intensity than with a normal bike.
It’s possible to enjoy a high-intensity interval ride on an e-bike by riding up a steep hill without any pedal assistance for short intervals.
But the pedal assist feature of an e-bike can help you achieve a heart rate ideal for trimming fat or increasing aerobic activity, hitting new levels of progress and personal records. All of this has a big impact both on your rides and your fitness level.
E-bikes offer a low-impact exercise that is easier on the body without compromising your fitness levels. Athletes that want a more relaxed workout can leverage the various modes on an e-bike and choose when to decrease or increase pedal assist.E-bikes offer a low-impact exercise that is easier on the body without compromising your fitness levels. Click To Tweet
Pedaling your e-bike on a flat surface for a long time can increase the volume of oxygen in your muscles and elevate your endurance levels without putting too much pressure on your joints.
These workouts translate well to sprinting. It will help in the last part of your sprint or the climb whenever a new challenge arrives.
Example of an E-Bike Workout
You can design many types of workouts for your e-bike. One of those is a simple cardiovascular workout, which requires constant pedaling for 20+ minutes. This makes your heart rate pump blood at the maximum pressure and increases the uptake of oxygen.
Here’s a sample cardio workout that you can use to get started:
- A few minutes of easy riding (approx. 5 minutes)
- 10 sets of 20-25 seconds with hard effort
- 30-40 seconds of recovery
- Gradually ease the pedal (approx. 5 minutes)
- Pedal for 20 minutes with moderate intensity
- Take a 15-second sprint jumping out of the saddle
- Final 5-minute easy pedal
If you do this, then congrats—you’ve done a comprehensive 45-minute cardio workout on your e-bike!
Athletes and fitness training enthusiasts are always on the lookout for ways to improve their performance and efficiency, and riding an e-bike makes for the perfect physical activity or exercise that can help athletes stay fit and have fun at the same time.
E-bikes are a great tool for sports rehab and can slowly bring back physical activity and joy to an athlete’s life. They are ideal in times of injury, allowing pros and elites to practice while also letting their body heal.
You can design your own personal workouts and choose whether you want to be doing high-intensity or low-intensity workouts. All this will help you stay fit on an e-bike as an athlete.
Since you’re here…
…we have a small favor to ask. More people are reading SimpliFaster than ever, and each week we bring you compelling content from coaches, sport scientists, and physiotherapists who are devoted to building better athletes. Please take a moment to share the articles on social media, engage the authors with questions and comments below, and link to articles when appropriate if you have a blog or participate on forums of related topics. — SF