Occasionally, the best thing a road cyclist can do for his or her cycling performance is…to not go cycling! After a full season of many rides and worthwhile destinations, your legs and core muscles deserve a much-needed recovery! That’s why we’ve gathered a list of five alternatives to cycling that will still give you a workout—just in a different form:
These are all activities that can replace the workout of a route or even a whole weekend of riding. When you go cycling, you work specific muscle groups for power and stability. Your glutes, quads, and hamstrings supply the power, while your calf, core, and back muscles provide the stability.
These alternative workouts use different muscle groups in various ways, providing a nice break and a reset from the repetitive movements of cycling. Read on to learn more about different activities to try. While this list is specific to the Central Coast, you can do these activities anywhere!
Running & Hiking the Central Coast of California
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that running and hiking are excellent alternatives to cycling.
Running works your glutes, quads, and hamstrings, while also engaging your core, pelvic floor muscles, and hip flexors. Hiking also uses similar muscle groups.
Cambria, south of Big Sur and Hearst Castle, has many trails to hike, run, or walk. Many avid adventurers choose to cycle to the trails, then get off the proverbial saddle and step onto the trail. Here are a few options:
- Moonstone Beach Boardwalk & Leffingwell Landing – the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk is one of the most scenic and relaxing oceanside trails on the West Coast. Start south and head north. The boardwalk path leads to Leffingwell Landing, a part of Hearst San Simeon State Park in Cambria that has its own worthwhile ocean vista points.
- Salmon Creek Trail – in the Silver Peak Wilderness, north of San Simeon off Highway 1, lies one of the Central Coast’s hidden gems of nature in the Salmon Creek Trail. Hike through several grottos to a breathtaking waterfall, where two streams unite and drop 120 feet into a pool.
- Fiscalini Ranch Preserve – north of Avila Beach, in Cambria, there is a 437-acre collection of protected forest, riparian habitat, and grassland. This nature preserve is dissected by a network of trails that are great for an easy but satisfying hike. Check out and click the map below for just one of dozens of routes you can choose.
Central Coast Surfing in Cambria
If you want to give your legs more of a rest but still remain active, surfing along Cambria’s Moonstone Beach is a rad idea.
Surfing involves a few different actions that engage different muscle groups.
- When you paddle out to the Pacific Ocean waves, you use your arms, core muscles, and back muscles to push against the waves.
- When you pop-up on your board, you use your pectorals, triceps, and core muscles.
- When you hit a wave, you ride it using your core and leg muscles for stability. Because most of your muscles are being used to stabilize yourself on the board, riding a wave works your legs in a different way than cycling.
Don’t know how to surf? There are places to learn all along the Central Coast, including Van Curaza Surf School in Avila Beach.
Yoga for Cyclists
Yoga has a long history of being an alternative activity that complements cycling. While cycling focuses on strength, speed, and endurance, yoga helps your stability and paces your breathing—both important skills that cyclists can’t simply get from their two-wheelers.
Some popular and fruitful yoga positions for cyclists include:
Upward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog
If you’d rather do yoga with another person or in a group, Tula Yoga in Cambria is known across the Central Coast as a great studio.
Horseback Riding on the Central Coast
Unlike cycling, you aren’t supplying the wattage to move forward while on horseback. However, just staying upright on a horse provides its own strenuous workout.
Horseback riding is all about the core, hip, and upper leg muscles. Like many of the previously listed activities, the way these muscles are engaged is different from cycling, giving your body a different variety of workout.
Covell’s Clydesdales in Cambria elevates your ride with a majestic Clydesdale horse as you go on a trail ride or tour the ranch. Or, check out these other horseback riding options on the Central Coast.
Stand-up Paddleboarding (SUP) Rental
Have you ever SUP’ed? Head down to San Luis Obispo Bay and get your stand-up paddleboard rental from Avila Beach Paddlesports.
Stand-up paddleboarding is when you stand on a special board and use a paddle to propel yourself forward and turn. It is definitely a workout worthy of being a good alternative to cycling for the day.
There’s a wide range of exercises on a stand-up paddleboard that can count as full-body workouts. Most of the power used to propel yourself forward is done by your arms, more specifically, your biceps. However, the stand-up paddleboard also engages your core and back muscles while your quads, hamstrings, and other leg muscle groups work to stabilize you on the board.