Why Is Biking So Exhausting?


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If you’ve ever cycled for a long time, you know what it’s like to feel exhausted. You might be tempted to think that the problem is with the bike, but there are actually other factors that contribute to biking being exhausting.

This article will explore some of those reasons and how cycling can still be a strenuous workout.

The biggest reason that cycling is exhausting is that it taxes your muscles in different ways. Whether you’re stationary or moving, you are using many of the same muscles to pedal.

The problem is, while they get used to each other, they don’t get stronger. Biking requires a high level of skill and strength because the bike has such a large mass and it’s difficult to keep your balance on it.

Pedaling also requires a lot of energy for breathing and keeping up a conversation with yourself. You have to cycle hard enough to keep yourself tired, so you get an effective workout.

How far you cycle and how fast you go is what determines your workout.

It’s a good idea to alternate different kinds of exercise because it keeps your body from getting too used to any one exercise.

Cycling is great in that it allows you to burn more calories than walking or running does, so it can be a good addition to your regimen.

Cycling also involves endurance and speed, which are two different things when it comes to exercising. Biking is great for endurance because it doesn’t build muscle so it can be done day after day.

However, speed doesn’t play the same role, and spending 400 hours on a bike isn’t good for maintaining speed.

Biking in itself is a good workout, but you can get even more if you’re doing it outdoors. If you can find a route with hills, then your work will be increased by the added exertion of climbing.

Still, you don’t have to stop cycling because it taxes your muscles so greatly. You can do other forms of exercise to supplement what your body can’t handle.

Cycling gives you results that can be measured, which is one of the best things about working out.

Each mile you go burns about 100 calories and if you cycle for an hour at 10 miles per hour, you’ll burn about 1,000 calories.

However, you’ll also have to burn another 1,000 calories just to lose the equivalent weight that you gained.

By not riding for a year, about 5 pounds of fat can be lost every month. The weight loss is mostly muscle because of the way your body breaks down fat.

It takes about 8 weeks to break down fat, so keep cycling for at least 2 months to see results.

You can burn up a lot of calories by starting with smaller rides and then working your way up.

Cycling fatigue recovery

There are many factors that can contribute to cycling fatigue or “bonking”, but the most common is glycogen depletion.

Glycogen is stored in the muscles and liver, and it provides energy for physical activity when carbohydrates are not being consumed.

-As you exercise, your muscles burn glycogen as fuel instead of glucose because it’s more readily available in the muscle cells.

Your liver begins to break down muscle glycogen as well, and stores the resulting glucose in the form of liver glycogen.

-During exercise, energy is also provided by fatty acids from fat cells when carbohydrate intake is insufficient. The fat stored in the muscle cells is mostly used for this purpose. 

You can have excess fat on your body without having had a low carbohydrate diet, but if you do then this will lead to weight loss rather than high performance.

“Cycling fatigue” is different from “fatigue”. Cycling fatigue is the inability to successfully perform at your normal level of physical effort for a given period of time.

It is usually caused by depletion of liver glycogen or muscle glycogen, though also fatigue from dehydration, lack of sleep, intense exercise (e.g. hours and hours on a trainer) are involved.

In the latter case, you would have some other reason for exercising, to begin with.

“Fatigue” in common sense is a feeling of weariness, exhaustion, or lack of energy. It can be from emotional stress, or from lack of sleep, or other physical stresses or disease. Insufficient carbohydrate intake is not a cause.

The University of Oregon has some good information on cycling glycogen depletion and fatigue. The liver’s glycogen stores are mostly used during high-intensity exercise (90%+ VO2 max) while the muscle glycogen stores are being depleted all the time.

The conclusion is that you should eat and drink carbohydrates as soon as possible after you start getting tired, or the resulting fatigue will be more severe.

The University of Southampton concluded that “During exercise carbohydrate-rich drinks are absorbed faster and lead to greater glycogen storage than do isoenergetic carbohydrate-free drinks.” 

In addition, “the rate of muscle glycogen storage during exercise was not influenced by the addition of protein to the carbohydrate supplement.”

They also said that “exercise lasting longer than 3 h may benefit from additional protein. No differences in measures of performance and muscle damage were observed in the study (2) with micronutrient supplements, despite a slightly but significantly higher intake of carbohydrate.”

“There are several factors which can contribute to the onset of fatigue while cycling:

– Staying hydrated during exercise.

– Balancing the amount of water you drink with that used during sweating.  Another factor is the rate at which energy is required for aerobic metabolism, in other words how fast your muscles are working. The faster they work (the more intense it is), the less glycogen you can use up.

– Eating quality foods.

– Not training too hard or too lean if you have to train very long and hard.

– Training in cold or humid conditions increase the rate of sweat loss and the workload on the muscles.

– Cycling too fast and/or not enough calories, including sufficient amounts of protein so that your body can regenerate as much muscle glycogen as possible from fat when you are tired.

– Low electrolyte levels, that is not enough salt to replace sweat loss.

– Drinking too little water or too much-caffeinated beverage.

The effects of caffeine can be a really bad combination with other factors like dehydration, lack of sleep, and intense exercise (e.g. hours and hours on a trainer) and should be avoided as long as you do not have sufficient carbohydrate intake.”

Taking in carbohydrates as soon as you feel the onset of fatigue will help avoid overtraining. Cyclists who exercise in teams generally take 30g of carbohydrate per hour on average, including 20-30g of sugars, 10-15 g of time releasing carbohydrates, and 300-500 g of water.

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In running people usually think of the glycogen stores in their muscles to be the main source of energy during exercise.

However, this is not the case, because it takes a long time before the liver glycogen is used up and starts to burn fat or protein instead.

During prolonged activity, the glycogen in the liver and muscles can be used up quite quickly, whereas the glycogen in our cells can last 2-3 days.

If you run out of carbohydrates, your body will still try to use stored fat or protein as a source of energy because these are also very accessible.

Furthermore, if you eat too much energy-containing food your body will burn whatever it can find from its own reserves instead of what it needs to fuel exercise.

It also takes a long time to replace the fats and protein that have been used.  This leads to poor performance and fatigue.

“It is not advisable to have a high-fat diet because it causes reduced endurance capacity, particularly in warm weather. A normal or slightly hypocaloric diet suits most runners best, especially in hot weather.”

However, this doesn’t mean you should kill yourself trying to keep meals low in fat. That will at least not help anything but will lead to unnecessary stress on your body.

Feeling sleepy after cycling

If you feel sleepy after cycling, you’re not alone. It’s natural to have a tired feeling after a workout, but it’s important to get enough rest as well.

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Here are some factors that can contribute to sleepiness during and after exercise:

1. Drink Enough Fluids:

Drinking enough fluids before, during, and after your workout is crucial for staying hydrated. This will help reduce the chances of dehydration, which may lead to a number of issues including trouble concentrating and increased feelings of fatigue.

2. Eat Protein:

Just as with fluids, it’s important to get enough protein with your workout. If you’re following a meal plan, protein sources are likely to include lean meats, eggs, and seafood.

3. Reduce Stress:

Stress can contribute to fatigue and increased sleepiness during exercise. Identifying how much stress you routinely encounter, practicing relaxation techniques, and avoiding situations that increase stress can help reduce fatigue during and after exercise.

4. Get Enough Rest:

Exercise may make you feel more tired, but it won’t help you get a good night’s sleep. In fact, your body needs sleep in order to properly repair and rebuild muscle tissue after exercise. Make sure to get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

5. Drink After Your Workout:

Drinking a recovery drink that contains protein and carbohydrates will help with muscle recovery, decrease feelings of fatigue and increase energy.

6. Warm Down Before You Cool Down:

A warm down is the best time to stretch your muscles for better flexibility and also help reduce muscle soreness that may happen after a tough workout.

7. Use Proper Form:

Using proper form while exercising will prevent muscle strain and prevent fatigue. Stay in control of the movements during your workout move – don’t let them be sloppy or uncontrolled.

8. Follow a Proper Diet:

Eating a proper diet throughout the day and especially during your workout can help improve recovery. The right diet can include protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber.

9. Increase Your Number of Workouts:

Exercising too frequently may lead to fatigue and increase feelings of tiredness after exercise. However, it’s still important to exercise at least 3-4 times a week for improved health.

Though these tips may not resolve the sleepiness after a workout, they can help improve your overall quality of life as well as help you feel more energized during the day.

These tips are great for those who are more prone to feeling tired after exercise.

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However, if you’re one of those people that doesn’t seem to ever get tired after exercise, you can try increasing your number of workouts to see if that helps.

How to not get tired while riding a bike?

It’s no secret that cycling can be a lot of fun, and it’s an active way to get around. With that said, however, there are times when you may find yourself feeling very tired.

If you’re like me and you’ve tried the “power nap” technique before but find yourself too uncomfortable or parched for sleep afterward, this article is for you.

Here, I’ll teach you how to not get tired while riding a bike without disrupting your circadian rhythm or risking dehydration.

The Power Of Music

Music is the lifeblood of any musician. In my musical career, I’ve noticed that there are definitely times where I’m well-rested and times where I’m not and that these are usually dependent on the amount of music I’ve played in the past few days.

If I play music for a few days in a row, my body begins to get used to the rhythm of the music. This is because I’ve been listening to it in my car, on my mp3 player, and on headphones.

When I play more than one song in a row, I begin to sleep through some of the music’s rhythms.

The same thing can happen when you’re cycling. If you’ve been listening to music on your mp3 player, your body will begin to get used to the rhythms.

It’s all a matter of synchronization. However, if you play too much music at once, it can disrupt your circadian rhythm and cause fatigue.

Therefore, I recommend the following:

  • Listen to music on your mp3 player for 30 minutes, and then…
  • Ride in silence for about 10 minutes.
  • Repeat this process a total of 3 times.

This technique has worked wonders for me! Besides waking me up, it’s also made my ride much more fun because I can listen to multiple songs at once without disrupting my sleep cycle.

It’s also a very convenient way to pass the time while riding. For example, I use this technique when riding with my teammates. We often pass the time by singing or rapping to each other. As you can imagine, this would not be very practical without the pause periods between songs.

Tip #2: Manage Your Energy Endurance

It’s a common belief that energy drinks will give you the energy necessary to ride longer and harder, and while it’s true that they will give you a boost of energy in the short term, they won’t actually increase your endurance for physical activity.

Instead, you have to change your lifestyle to make sure that you’re remaining active, particularly if you’re on the road or riding in training. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Take a rest every hour and listen to some music.
  • Eat balanced meals and snacks every two hours during your ride.
  • Drink at least three non-caffeinated servings of water before starting out.

As you can see, these simple changes will help to keep you energetic and on the road for longer periods of time.


If you’ve been feeling tired lately, these simple changes to your lifestyle and way of life may help you to feel more energetic and happier while riding.

It’s also a great way to meet new people while cycling. Additionally, it will help you enjoy the activity so much more because you will be able to overcome the “sleep deprivation” that happens every time you listen to music.

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