As kids, we ran and biked outside every day we possibly could, without ever giving thought of how much cycling is too much. We went as hard as we felt like and as easy as we wanted. But as adults, we look at exercise, especially cycling, much differently.
We think we must do more to get more; we believe more cycling will make us fitter, faster, and thinner. But there’s a limit to what we can accomplish without burning ourselves out physically and mentally. So let’s talk about it: how much cycling is too much?
How Much Cycling Is Too Much? (The Facts)
In my second year of cycling, I had huge goals. I wanted to ride 200 miles a week, every week. For me, that was a lot, and it didn’t matter how tired I was. So I got up early in the morning and slogged away on my trainer.
Only to discover that when I actually wanted to go outside and ride for fun, I was too tired. I couldn’t keep up with group rides and was getting dropped on Sunday Funday. I was cycling too much and not resting enough.
The truth is, there are no hard and fast rules that can tell you how much cycling is too much – it just all depends on your body, your lifestyle, your ability to recover, and your time constraints. Of course, it also depends on your goals and the type of riding you’re doing.
Type of Riding
First of all, the type of cycling you are doing well affects how much you can do it. For example, if you just ride easy and never push yourself, you probably won’t have a limit on how much your body can handle.
If your cycling is an easy commute to work and back, you won’t have much recovery to worry about, just like when we were kids. If you ride as easy or as hard as you feel like, you might not ever feel like you’re getting tired.
It’s when you start to put training stress on your body that you need to really monitor how much cycling you’re doing. You can’t ride at 100% all of the time without getting adequate rest -your body just can’t sustain it.
Intensity is how hard you are riding. As we said, if you are riding at lower intensities, you can ride much longer and further. But if you are riding at high intensities, you are going to need rest.
For example, according to trainingpeaks.com, most of your training time should be spent doing easier rides, and only about 10% of your training should be at very intense levels.
They call it the 75% rule.
75% of your training (either miles or time) should be at 75% of your max heart rate or lower, known as zone 1 and zone 2. 10 percent should be in zone 5: which is 90 to 100% of your max heart rate.
For most people, riding at Zone 5 for more than 10% of your training time is too much. You may make some quick gains early on, but then you’ll begin to plateau and burn out without adequate reset times. Eventually, you could find you are overtraining, which is counterproductive to getting faster.
Also, the more you ride, the lower intensity you need to ride. On the other hand, if you ride less, you can ride at higher intensities. It’s all about balance.
Your heart rate can give you clues as to how much riding is too much. According to VeryWellFit, your maximum heart rate is the highest number of beats per minute that your heart can sustain when it’s under stress – either physical or otherwise.
The easiest way to estimate your max heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. So a 40-year-olds max heart rate would be about 180. Of course, your individual results may vary based on your own particular physiological factors.
Someone with a higher or lower max heart rate isn’t necessarily more or less fit than you. It’s just your personal baseline.
When you are working out, you should be able to reach your max heart rate and then come back down when you ease up. However, if you are training too much (or sick or on a particular medication), you’ll have trouble getting your heart rate up as high. As a result, it’ll feel sluggish – this is a good sign you are cycling too much.
Another indicator is your resting heart rate. Again, this number is very particular to the individual. It’s the number of times your heart beats per minute while you are resting. If your resting heart rate is higher than usual, you might be cycling too much (or getting sick).
Lastly, heart rate variability can also give you clues as to whether or not you are cycling too much. Your heart rate will naturally bounce around throughout the day as you stand, sit, walk, or rest. It isn’t a static number.
Your heart rate variability is how fast or slow your heart rate can vary. If the number is lower than normal, you might be cycling too much.
Age is another factor that will affect how much you can cycle. When we are younger, our bodies cope with training stress better and typically don’t need as much recovery time. However, as we age, we naturally need more recovery after strenuous efforts. So older cyclists might need to ride less than younger – or at least plan for rest days in between long or hard days.
Active Rest Days
Rest days are essential to training, but some people like to take active rest days. Active rest days are days that you cycle at a very easy, restful pace. You keep your heart rate and your exertion level very low so that you don’t add any additional training stress to your body.
Active rest days help to keep the muscles moving, clear out impurities, and keep you from having that ‘flat’ feeling the day after a total rest day.
According to Wahoo Fitness, active recovery should be embarrassingly easy!
Hydration and Nutrition
Having good hydration and nutrition can improve your recovery time, meaning you can ride more and need to rest less.
Bicycling.com says that if you take in the proper carbs and protein during and after a ride, it will lessen your need for recovery and help fuel the next day’s ride, meaning you can cycle more and rest a bit less.
Also, being dehydrated will make you feel tired and sluggish, which will lessen the amount of cycling you feel like doing.
One poor night of sleep may make you feel a bit tired and sluggish the next day, but you’ll probably still be able to hit all your power targets. However, if poor sleep continues, your body won’t be able to recover adequately from the stress that cycling puts on it.
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you just won’t be able to ride as much. Your body will be too tired, and it won’t be making the adaptations you need to get faster on your bike.
Cyclingtips.com explains that human growth hormone surges while you sleep, helping your body to repair and rejuvenate muscles.
On the other hand, poor sleep can be an indicator that you are training too much. Genesis Health Clubs states that overtraining over stimulates the body, which makes it difficult to fall asleep.
So to optimize the amount of cycling you can do, make sure you are getting good quality sleep in adequate amounts.
If your stress load is high, you might need to ride your bike less or at least not as hard. You aren’t going to be as fresh or as strong after a long, stressful day at work, even if you work a desk job. Sometimes we need mental rest – even from our workouts.
So if we are stressed, our regular amount of cycling might be too much!
Your lifestyle is going to affect how much cycling you can do. For example, if you work 80 hours a week, you won’t have as many free hours to ride each day as someone who only works 20.
On the other hand, if you work a very physically or mentally demanding job, you might not have the energy to ride as much as someone who has an easier job.
A parent with young children who don’t sleep through the night may have a harder time having enough stamina to do long rides than someone who doesn’t.
On the other hand, if cycling is getting in the way of your job and family, you might be cycling too much. So it’s important to find the balance of getting fit alongside everything else you need to do.
Is It Unhealthy To Bike Every day?
It isn’t unhealthy to bike every day, as long as you are recovering well and feel good, especially if you have the time to do so.
However, if you find that cycling infringes on your ability to raise your family or do well at your job, it might be unhealthy for you to cycle every day.
Is 2 Hours Of Cycling A Day Too Much?
Two hours of cycling a day generally isn’t too much if you aren’t going too hard and you have enough free time to do so. However, most people need to take rest days to give their muscles time to repair.
Signs You Are Cycling Too Much
Signs that you are cycling too much can include (but aren’t limited to):
- Trouble sleeping
- Trouble getting heart rate up
- Resting heart rate is too high
- Heart rate variability is too low
- You are too fatigued to enjoy riding
- You get dropped on rides you didn’t used to get dropped on
- You’re losing interest in riding
- You get irritable
- You don’t have time for work or family
How Often Should You Rest from Cycling?
The number of rest days depends on how fit the person is, how hard they train, and how healthy they are overall.
In general, you should take one or two days off every week, especially if your cycling routine includes high-intensity workouts or long rides. It’s also important to pay attention to your body and rest when you need to, like when you’re tired or sore.
The most important thing is to pay attention to your body and change your training plan accordingly. Don’t forget that rest and recovery are important for long-term improvement and to avoid getting hurt.
How Often Should You Bike?
How often you cycle depends on your fitness goals, lifestyle, and physical condition. For recreational or commuting purposes, cycling three to four times per week for about 30 minutes to an hour per session can be beneficial.
However, if you’re training for a cycling event or trying to build strength and endurance, you may need to cycle more frequently and for longer periods. And combine on-bike riding with strength training in a complete training plan.
It’s important to listen to your body and consult with a healthcare provider or a cycling coach to determine the best cycling routine for you.
When is it Beneficial to Ride Everyday?
There are many physical and mental health benefits to riding a bike every day. Cycling is a great way to get in shape because it can help you build muscle and keep your heart healthy.
Cycling regularly can also strengthen the immune system, reduce stress, and give you more energy throughout the day. Riding a bike is also an environmentally-friendly mode of transportation.
Lastly, cycling can be a fun way to get outside and spend time in nature. It’s a great choice for people who want a fun and healthy way to stay active.
How Much Is Too Much Cycling? (Closing Thoughts)
The amount of cycling you should do every day is dependent on so many variables – your ability to recover, how hard you ride, and how often you ride. It also depends on your goals and how it affects the other aspects of your life, such as work and family.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to take two days off from cycling each week. Also, keep most of your training (about 75%) below 75% of your max heart rate, and keep only 10% of your training at very hard intensities. This will give most cyclists adequate time to ride, recover, and get faster.
But lastly, if you’ve lost all joy in cycling, consider the idea that you might just be cycling too much! Cycling shouldn’t just make you fitter, it should be fun, too.
Have you got the cycling balance just right, or have you over-committed before and it’s become an issue? Tell us your experience in the comments section below – we would love to get your thoughts on how much cycling is too much – and if there is even such a thing!
How much cycling is excessive?
Cycling is excessive if it interferes with your family and work time or if you have signs of overtraining, such as lack of sleep, irritability, fatigue, and apathy.
How much biking is too much in one day?
Occasionally, you’ll see someone hitting 200 to 250 miles in a single day. But most people can’t achieve that many miles every single day! So instead, start small – with only 10 or 15 miles at a time – and work your way up to an amount that feels good to you.
Can you do too much cycling?
Yes, you can do too much cycling. However, you are cycling too much if you are fatigued all the time, irritable, have trouble sleeping, and have variations from your typical heart rate.
Is 2 hours of cycling a day too much?
Cycling 2 hours a day may be too much – depending on the intensity you are cycling.
Is it OK to ride a bike every day?
It’s ok to ride your bike every day if you are feeling good and you have the time! However, if you are overdoing it, there will be obvious signs such as fatigue and trouble sleeping, which can be a warning that you are just riding too much or too hard.
Is it unhealthy to bike every day?
It can be unhealthy to bike every day if you are biking too hard or if it begins to interfere with other aspects of your life. However, if you have the free time and the physical ability to bike every day, go for it.