You cannot survive in the sports world without physical fitness and talent. However, that’s not all. Your cognitive thinking and your brain fitness also have a significant role to play.
Every sport has different requirements. Some steer towards your physical capabilities, while others require you to be well versed in the art of strategy-making and perception. Cycling, in this case, relies more on your brain power and mental prowess.
This is why cyclists train themselves through different mentally stimulating exercises to improve their cognition.
Many online platforms can tell you how to improve your physical skills, but only some will inform you about specific exercises and diets that can help you get your brain in shape.
Here we bring you five ways to increase your brain strength and excel at your cycling performance.
Practice Through Mental Imagery
This type of training will have you perform different types of mental execution without any physical activity.
It’s as if you imagine a ride in your head without carrying it out physically. Research indicates that visualizing and doing an action involves the same neural circuits as actually doing it, so your physical ride will be identical to your mental run.
This exercise can improve your motor skills considerably. Cyclists can use this to perfect their run on a route they’re trying to master.
Mental imagery will also have you visualize the emotions, the competitors, and all those internal thoughts you have during a competition. This way, you’ll have a head start preparing for all the nerves that come with competition day.
You can also visualize the run you’ll do before actually doing it. Try to imagine yourself on the route. You’ll be changing gears, controlling your speed at different turns, and avoiding all those tricky spots.
After you’ve done this, go out for an actual ride and see how much you’ve improved and if it was identical to your mental image or not.
Make Use of Technology
Many cycling apps can also help you improve your cognition. They have different games and exercises that target specific areas of the brain.
These apps will make you better at multitasking, problem-solving, and processing information quickly, among other things.
Zwift is one of those apps. It’s a cycling app that has you ride in an avatar world where you have to make use of all your cognitive abilities to win.
This is the perfect tool for those who want to practice their multitasking and decision-making skills.
You can also try The Sufferfest. This app will put you through different cycling workouts that will help you improve your focus and attention span.
It’s perfect for those who want to increase their anaerobic capacity and ride faster for longer periods.
Some apps help you map out your rides, such as Strava and Map My Ride. These can help you plan your cycling routes better and find new and challenging places to ride.
This way, you’ll have to use your cognitive abilities to navigate different routes and find the best way to get from point A to point B.
Finally, some apps help you track your progress, such as TrainerRoad and Perfpro Studio. These are great for monitoring your cycling workouts and seeing how much you’ve improved over time.
This way, you can see the results of your cognitive training and adjust your exercises accordingly.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It’s no secret that sleep is essential for both your physical and mental health. Getting a good night’s sleep will help you recover from your rides and give your brain the rest it needs to function properly.
Cycling takes a toll on your body, so it’s important to get enough sleep to repair those muscles. But sleep also helps you process information and form new memories.
This is why it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep before a big race or competition. You want your brain to be rested and ready to take on all the challenges that come with cycling.
There are a few things you can do to get a good night’s sleep. First, have a regular sleeping routine and try to stick to it as much as possible. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
Second, have a relaxing bedtime routine that will help you calm down before sleep. This could involve reading, taking a bath, or stretching.
And finally, make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet so you can fall asleep easily.
Try Visual Training
Visual training is an exercise that helps you improve your depth perception and increase peripheral awareness.
You train yourself to focus on a target. The target may be a challenging route or a demanding course that requires cognitive skills. Once you’ve locked out the target, your brain will start finding solutions to avoid it.
Instead of mentally preparing yourself before a ride, you come up with solutions on the spot. This is the basic idea of visual training, and it is even more important for mountain bikers who must navigate treacherous paths.
There are many cases where cyclists bump on a jutting rock and fall. This is because they lack the necessary perceptive skills. Whenever you’re cycling, keep your head high, and don’t just look in front of you; keep an eye out on your periphery.
Cycling is a three-dimensional sport and requires you to assess your surroundings carefully. You can improve your peripheral skills through this training.
Moreover, when you learn how to focus on a target, it becomes easier to concentrate on the task at hand. This is one of the reasons why athletes who engage in this type of training have an edge over their opponents.
They can maintain their focus for long periods and make split-second decisions without hesitation.
If you want to try visual training, there are many resources available online. You can find cycling-specific drills and exercises that will help you improve your cognitive skills.
You can also find apps that offer virtual reality (VR) cycling experiences. These apps put you in a virtual environment where you must navigate through different courses and obstacles.
VR cycling is a great way to improve your depth perception and learn how to focus on a target.
Your diet also has an impact on your brain as it is a living organ and requires nutrients as well. Many supplements allow you to increase your cognition and boost your brain power. Some also help you get the necessary mental focus needed for the sport.
However, ensuring that your supplements are transparent about their content and have well-researched ingredients is vital. Good supplements, like Lion’s Mane gummies, will help you gain more focus and mental clarity.
This can enable you to make better decisions while cycling and avoid any accidents. Another example of a great supplement is omega-3 fatty acids.
This nutrient is essential for the proper functioning of your nervous system. It also helps improve your mood and cognitive skills. You can find omega-3 in fish oil supplements or get it from eating fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines.
You can also take a multivitamin supplement to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. This is especially important if you’re not eating a balanced diet. A good multivitamin will help fill any gaps in your nutrition.
Make sure to consult with a doctor before taking any supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions.
This is why it is essential to incorporate different mental exercises that will help you improve your cognitive function. These will also increase your depth perception and make you quicker in assessing obstacles. You must incorporate practices to enhance your brain’s workings to adopt a holistic approach toward training for sports.
This will help you not only in cycling but also in every other aspect of your life. After all, a healthy mind leads to a healthy body!