Woody Allen famously said that 90% of life is showing up—and that’s certainly true when it comes to your fitness.
But that doesn’t mean showing up for one ride on the weekend and forgetting about your fitness, health, and training goals for the rest of the week. Showing up is a daily practice, and carving out tiny moments of fitness throughout your regular workday—however small!—can make you a stronger cyclist and make those long weekend rides much more enjoyable.
Being an athlete—yes, you are an athlete—doesn’t have to mean spending 20 hours each week on the bike. It doesn’t even mean you need a serious racing goal. You don’t have to be training for a 200-mile gravel grinder to want to hold yourself a bit more accountable for your fitness and get more out of your athletic life. You just need the desire to enjoy your time on the bike more. Remember: the fitter and stronger you become, the more fun those miles of pedaling feel.
So, if you want to be a more consistent cyclist, it’s time to stack some small habits into your day. And we really do mean starting small. While you do need to show up consistently, you don’t need to show up in a dramatic way to start seeing improvements.
SMALL CHANGES = BIG IMPROVEMENTS
Small changes over time can make drastic differences in your fitness. While a surge of motivation is great for getting out on an occasional bike ride, the real gains in your fitness (and ultimately, enjoyment in those days you do get out on the bike!) come from the tiny choices you make throughout the week.
The 30-minute spin that you do on the indoor trainer while you watch the news in the morning, the walk that you take every day after dinner, the quick round of squats that you do in the office before lunch—these are the small habits that lead to major fitness gains over time.
“People don’t achieve peak results with a task because of motivation. Instead, the number of decisions and completed tasks ultimately determine their level of success with a new task,” says S.J. Scott in Habit Stacking.
Habit stacking is about creating repeatable patterns based on things you already do, like brushing your teeth. But in addition to daily tasks like that, you can optimize recurring events like certain conference calls, kid’s sporting events, or work webinars to prioritize fitness!
You can leverage the power of habit stacking by figuring out your current habits and routines, from the obvious teeth-brushing to the more subtle, like sitting on at least one Zoom meeting with your camera off every day.
As Charles Duhigg explained in The Power of Habit, you must identify your routines before expecting any changes. Take some time to make a list of things you do daily (or almost daily).
Once you have that list, you can see where you have habits that could be swapped out for healthier options and where you can stack healthy habits on top of pre-existing habits. Writing out your daily/weekly routines and rituals can also help you become aware of less-than-stellar habits you may not have even noticed yourself developing!
Once you have that list, don’t stress on sweeping changes at first. Instead, focus on adding smaller healthy habits to your pre-existing habits via habit stacking. There are so many small steps you can take to improve your cycling fitness—and many can be done in two minutes or less while you’re already doing something else.
You’ll be amazed at how these small changes add up to big wins if you maintain consistency. You’ll feel stronger and gain fitness—but more importantly, when you’re doing a few small things for your health and fitness every single day, you’ll start to view yourself as an athlete. That mindset will make it easier to swap happy hour for the group ride, or to ride up that extra hill on the weekend, or (finally) sign up for that bike trip that previously seemed too intimidating for you.