Around this time of year, a bunch of my clients will be a little more lax in their workout program. But  they’ll assure me that they are getting tons of exercise because they are cycling, like, everywhere.

In many ways – I LOVE THIS.

I love this because it’s actually bonkers that our everyday lives are so sedentary that we need to carve out special allocated time to move our bodies. Could you imagine explaining a treadmill to a pioneer?

You wha!_


When we cycle to work or to generally #gsd, we are integrating movement into our daily lives in a way that is natural and useful. It’s good for us and the environment and saves us money and makes so much sense.

Here’s some other good news about cycling:

  • It’s easier on the joints than running
  • Many people find it much more enjoyable than other forms of exercise
  • Like any other form of cardio, you are going to burn calories, get a rush of endorphins, release stress and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
  • It’s great training for the lower body – particularly the quadriceps.

So what’s not to love!?!


Now for the not so great news.  There’s a lot of reasons why cycling shouldn’t be your only exercise:

1.You are still basically sitting.

And, for most of us -the last thing we need to do is sit more.

Although it’s fantastic that we are getting blood to the legs by pedaling, we need to get up on our feet and get out of that position as much as possible.

2. It doesn’t help with bone health.

Many people choose to start cycling because they are getting to an age where they are starting to feel discomfort in the joints after a lot of impact exercise.

If that’s the case, you are getting to an age where you should be caring about bone health. Bone density is increased by weight bearing exercise so cycling doesn’t really help.  Impact and strength training exercises will help with that. (see below!)

3.You probably aren’t burning many calories.

If weight loss is a goal for you, it’s about killing more calories than you consume.

As I’ve mentioned before, that’s really best managed by consuming fewer calories  in the first place than trying to burn them off through exercise.

However, if you are looking for the most caloric bang for your buck (or your butt) than you have to consider that cycling for 30 mins will burn about half the calories as much as running for 30 mins as most of your weight is supported by the bike (assuming equal effort).

4. You aren’t getting a balanced workout.

You aren’t even really working the entire lower body.  As you can see in this gif, the primary muscles used are the quadriceps and hamstrings.


And not even really hamstrings. The hamstrings help you pull the pedal back up to the top but unless you have clips, it will mostly be the quadriceps on the other side doing the work.

You’ll get the glutes a little bit when you push the pedal forward at the top of the clock but most of the resistance comes when you push down, which is all quadriceps.

Psst…If you want more glutes, that’s all about hip extension, so get your butt out of the seat and think of pushing right from the hip.


So do I want you to stop cycling?

Hells no!


There is no better way to get around. I just want you to supplement all your cycling with the following workout routine for maximum fitness and foxiness:

Save the Cyclist’s Workout to your phone or computer

Not only will it balance out the work you are doing on the bike, it will also make you a better and stronger cyclist so you can #gsd like a boss …. and be the only cyclist you know with a 6 pack.

I was so ugly before I did Oonagh's workout for cyclists


Do 2-3 rounds of this circuit after cycling. Should take 10-15 mins.


20 reps

The quintessential compound upper body movement will strengthen your chest, shoulders and triceps. That way you can show off your sweet tricep while you are riding.





20 reps

Rows work the opposing muscles to the pushups – your back and biceps. They are especially important for cyclists as we tend to hunch over the bars and this will balance out those muscles patterns so you aren’t a grotesque hunch back later on in life.




1 min

This is an impact exercise that will increase bone density, burn calories and isn’t especially quad dominant. If you don’t have a rope just mime one (but don’t forget about the little arm turns – you’ll eventually feel them in your biceps and triceps)



20 reps

Notice how this movement is the opposite of all the hunched over sitting we do. Take these slow and focus on squeezing every muscle in the back body as you exhale into the movement.



Glute bridge:

20 reps

This is to make up for the relative lack of glute work in our cycling. When the quads get too strong, they tend to take over all our lower body work, which will mean you will eventually end up with a flat bum, massive quads and creaky knees. No thanks.

glute bridge


 1 min

This will train your transverse abdominus, which will keep your belly tight and help you avoid lower back pain – both on and off the bike.


Also make sure you stretch the following muscles as well.



Don’t forget to download a copy of the Cyclist’s Workout to your phone so you can get the most out of all your cycling activity.

Save the Cyclist’s Workout to your phone or computer

But remember – sometimes it not really about the workout at all:


Happy cycling!!

Did you enjoy this post? If so, let me know by leaving a comment and share it with your friends!

The Cottage Workout 2.0

You know how you go to the cottage… and there’s nothing to do but sit around and drink beer and eat chips?

And you keep thinking,


And you’ve already done The Original Cottage Workout so many times?


Welcome to the Cottage Workout 2.0! It’s another full body workout using only items you will find at most cottages. You will need:

  • An old life jacket
  • A boat bumper
  • A ladder
  • A solid chair
  • Your Cottage Workout 2.0 PDF

Click here to download the Cottage Workout PDF

Make sure you warm up first – a 5-10 swim or a jog would do the trick. Alternatively, do 20 jumping jacks and 20 alternating lunges four times each to lubricate the joints and get the muscles warm and ready for action.

Then, do 20 reps of each exercise in a circuit, keeping the transitions between the exercises quick so your heart rate stays elevated. You should be huffing and puffing the whole time.

If you can repeat the whole circuit four times, you have definitely earned your Miller time.


Station 1: Ladder Dips

Station 2: Life jacket Lunges


Station 3: Ladder Pull Ups

Station 4: Bumper Wall Sit


Station 5: Muskoka Mountain Climbers:

Station 6: Bumper Plank Roll Outs

So what do you think? Is The Cottage Workout 2.0 as hard as the Original Cottage Workout? Are you inspired to bring your runners next time you head up north?  Leave a comment below and don’t forget to bring your PDF!(click below to download)

PS- If you liked the Cottage Workouts, you should check out the accompanying Cottage Menu by guest blogger Joy McCarthy from Joyous Health:



If Ben Kaplan and I went to the same high school, we probably would have bumped into each other trying to sneak cigarettes behind a portable. (He probably wouldn’t have talked to me, though – because he’s got much cooler taste in music.)

Now Ben and I both find ourselves in the surreal position of being all old and fitness-y. Ben is the General Manager of iRun magazine and the author of Feet Don’t Fail Me Now, The Rogue’s Guide to Running the Marathon.

In his book, Ben tells you a bit about his journey from a ‘degenerate barfly’ to a Boston Marathon runner  – and then provides you with a plan about how you make the transformation yourself; in exactly one year. 


This is the man who got Rob Ford to go for a run.

rob ford

Imagine what he could do for you.

Ben also writes about music for the National Post and includes glimpses into the running lives of musicians. Apparently Alanis Morisette had to listen to ‘Survivor’ by Destiny’s Child on repeat when she ran the New York City Marathon. Slash from Guns and Roses really hates running but he watches TV and just gets it done.


In reading Ben’s awesome interview below, it’s clear that Ben and I agree one thing:

Getting in shape doesn’t have to be so fucking SERIOUS.

So many people are out there  talking about form and progressions and intervals and that people are paralyzed and they end up doing nothing because they think they can do it wrong.

You can’t do it wrong. Just move.

In the intro to Ben’s book, he writes:

This is your book and it’s a rogue’s guide. Start wherever, read whatever, skip wherever, run however. It’s not a textbook, it’s an outline and a motivational screed. Use it any way you want…just don’t forget to lace up your shoes.

Ben and I also agree that it helps to have some sweet tunes.  So I’ve included a wicked running workout that coordinates the best Jock Rock anthems to an awesomeley effective and FUN mix of Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). It’s appropriate for any level and you will feel so cocky and badass by the end. Click here to download

Here it is. Rock you like a hurricane.

And then read on to find out what got Ben out of the bars and to the Boston marathon:

Were you always an exerciser? If not, how did you start?

No, not really.

I used to ditch cross country to smoke cigarettes in high school.

But, I started think about settling down. I got married. And eventually bought a house and you know what comes next: children.

It was time to make a change and that’s when the Born to Run book came out. I found it when I was looking for something and since I was writing for the National Post at the time, editor Ben Errett asked me to write about the book. I put myself in the story, started running, and have run ever since. That was six years ago.

You make an argument in your book, Feet Don’t Fail Me Now, that we humans are made to run. Tell us about that.

I really stole that from Born to Run but the point is: our necks, ankles, heels, Achilles tendons and cardiovascular systems are all distinctive and all built primarily for one purpose: running long distances.

Back in the day (the prehistoric day), we used to chase down our dinner for dinner because man ate meat before we had spears.

We ran animals into cardiac arrest.

You hear a lot about ‘runner’s high’ and ‘hitting the wall’. What has been the high of your running life and what was a wall you thought you would never get over?

The high was probably the Boston Marathon and it was the wall, too.

At that point, I was a running nut, obsessed with my running times. But in Boston, the year the before the bombings, it was super hot. I didn’t alter my race plan and quickly it became apparent I had no chance of reaching my goals. This can be devastating. But at that moment I made a decision: I wasn’t going to be ruled by my watch. So I cranked up Nothing As it Seems (live version) on my iPod:

and started running again, while playing an air guitar and the people on the sidelines went nuts.

We have the power to control the Wall and the Runner’s High — these aren’t things that arbitrarily happen to us. We all have agency.

How has being active changed your life?

My daughter wants to run the marathon. She’s four years old.

What do you do when you are not running?

I’m seeing Hayden this month at Massey Hall. I also want to go see Kevin Drew’s art show. I love music. It makes me spiritually renewed.

What’s your major fitness goal right now?

I want to break three hours at the Toronto Marathon.

What do you do to psych yourself up when you just REALLY DON’T FUCKING FEEL LIKE IT?

I know by now that a bad run is better than eating a box of Triscuits.

I feel better about myself when I fight, and don’t wallow. So even if I don’t want to go, generally once I turn the first corner onto College Street from my house, I can get into it. But a few jumping jacks and the live version of Anthems for a 17 Year Old Girl on YouTube get me out the door:

Besides, spring will be here soon and getting outside is a good way to suntan.

Any funny running moment?

Sometimes I get stomach issues but I’ll leave that there.

And instead talk about an inspiring running moment – which was running with my mom when we did a 5K this past summer and she ran the single toughest gutsiest one legged refuse to give up race I’d ever been proud enough to have seen.

I have a picture of us running that race in a frame in my office (which is really our house basement surrounded by broken kid toys and crap; still, the picture is grand and my mom is the best).

What advice would you give someone who is just starting out with us or just thinking about it?

Have fun with it.

We all have plenty of grief in our lives. Things that suck. Things we can’t control.

Exercising, especially with someone upbeat and talented and positive and nurturing and kind like you (Oonagh)-  is a good thing. It’s stress relief. It makes you look good, feel good. Gives you something to do for yourself, that nobody can touch. It’s a selfish thing. A wonderful thing. And it can change your life.

What is the accomplishment or personal milestone you are most proud of?

Staying consistent for my wife and kids and being a decent human being when the chips are down.

I have my moments but all in all, I think I’ve found a decent way to live.

Don’t you wish you could go for a run with air-guitaring Ben and his awesome mum? If so, leave a comment below and congratulate Ben on all his had work!

(and don’t forget to download your super fun Rock n Roll run: Here it is. Rock you like a hurricane.