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6 Cycling Recovery Tips To Prepare for Your Next Ride

calendar icon February 1, 2023
calendar icon 6 MINS
author icon matthewmace

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Follow our cycling recovery tips to get back on the road sooner.

Cyclist getting ready for a ride

You’ve just finished your ride, you’re lounging around in a pair of sweaty bib shorts — much to the horror of your partner — and you can’t decide between a quick nap or a raid of the kitchen cupboards. Does this sound familiar?

When we exercise, whether that’s a sweet spot effort, a long zone 2 ride, or a strength training session, our muscles and glycogen stores are broken down [10]. Glycogen is a metabolic fuel source for the muscles — when we eat carbohydrates, the body digests and converts these into glucose to fuel aerobic and anaerobic exercise.

To kick-start the recovery process, you need to replenish these glycogen stores. But there are also other things you can do to enhance recovery further — we’ll highlight these cycling recovery tips in this blog post.

6 tips for cycling recovery 

Alongside the incredible importance of post-ride nutrition, many other factors influence how physically prepared you are for your next ride or workout. 

So, to enhance recovery, you should consider the following cycling recovery tips:

  1. Plan out your recovery nutrition ahead of time 
  2. Rehydrate
  3. Prioritise quality sleep
  4. Stretch
  5. Wear compression garments
  6. Listen to your body

Plan out your recovery nutrition ahead of time

Muscle glycogen depletion is one of the main causes of fatigue during and after cycling.

It’s crucial to replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores after exercise, ideally within the first hour, to enhance recovery and optimally prepare for your next ride or training session [9]. 

You replace glycogen stores by eating carbohydrates.

You can also limit post-exercise muscle damage, increase muscle growth and repair, and significantly increase muscle glycogen storage by adding protein to your post-ride nutrition [5]. 

A ratio of 4:1 carbohydrate: to protein is a typical guideline to follow. Many recovery products and shakes for cyclists commonly contain a similar mix of carbs to protein.

Because nutrition is so important, you should plan out what you’re going to eat ahead of time. You should also be eating on the bike for rides that are longer than 1-hour.

Plan out your nutrition to adequately replenish your glycogen stores quickly after cycling to fast-track the recovery process.

If you’re on the go or short on time, or if you don’t feel like eating much after a ride, a quick shake and a protein bar are always good options to have on hand.


Hydration doesn’t stop once you unclip. And if you haven’t been drinking enough on the bike, you could be at an increased risk of dehydration. 

Your cycling recovery begins on the bike — you need to consume enough fluid to prevent a decrease in performance [6]. A small change of -1% in body weight can reduce your metabolic and neuromuscular function [1]. So, it’s important to stay on top of your hydration for your performance, but also just as importantly for your recovery and performance the following day! 

Calculate your sweat rate to find out how much water you need to drink on the bike. 

The best way to do this is to perform a moderate to intense 1-hour ride outside without consuming any fluids. Weigh yourself before and after — in the nude — to measure how much water weight you’ve lost.

Let’s say you weigh 70 KG and lose 2 KG after the 1-hour session — you should aim to replace 50% of that per hour when riding. That’s approximately 1 litre per hour that you should aim to drink.

We have a fantastic video with Steph Cronin, sports dietitian and nutritionist, who talks through the process and how much water you need to drink on the bike for optimal cycling performance.

Alongside recovery on the bike, we need to talk about fluid replacement after your ride.

You might choose to get into the habit of weighing yourself before and after your ride to calculate your fluid loss. Aim to replace lost fluid in the hours following training. And if you don’t feel thirsty, you might choose to eat slightly higher sodium foods to stimulate your thirst [2].

Not only is dehydration dangerous, but following exercise, dehydration may exacerbate exercise-induced muscle damage and prolong recovery [7].

Sleep (and naps)

Sleep is essential for adequate recovery. Not only does it replenish energy stores [4], but it also increases the release of growth hormone, which repairs damaged muscle tissue [11].

During sleep, blood flow is also increased — oxygen and nutrients recover, repair, and regenerate muscle cells. 

How much sleep do you need? Many people are quick to recommend a total number of hours to sleep each night. But everybody is unique — some people sleep for 8, 9, or even 10 hours a night, while others sleep slightly less. 

What’s important is that you get enough sleep to facilitate cycling recovery — and ensure you can function and focus properly during the day.


A post-ride stretch can decrease muscle soreness and reduce your likelihood of injury [3].

Although there is very little research to support stretching, it’s typically seen as a great way to maintain flexibility and range of motion, and it also enforces proper mechanics while cycling.

Regular stretching can also improve posture on the bike, reduce back and neck pain, and improve hip mobility. 

You don’t need to stretch for hours — 5 to 15 minutes at a time is usually plenty.

Wear compression garments

If you’re putting in a lot of miles in the saddle and want to take your cycling recovery a step further, you can wear compression garments. These include compression leg sleeves, socks, tights, three-quarter length pants, and even quad sleeves. 

While the benefits of wearing compression gear during exercise seem to be minimal, compression garments for recovery may have a positive effect on subsequent bouts of endurance, including cycling time trials. Furthermore, compression garments are associated with a reduction in lactate dehydrogenase and reduced perceived muscle soreness [8]. 

The result? You’re likely to be better prepared for your next ride or workout.

Listen to your body for optimal cycling recovery 

Prioritise nutrition, hydration, and sleep — these are absolutely essential for recovery.

Once you’ve refuelled, rehydrated, and you know when you’re going to hit the pillow, the rest is up to you.

Yes, we know it’s cliche advice, but listen to your body. 

Nobody knows your body as well as you do.

Maybe you feel the need to stretch for a little longer, eat a few more carbs, drink more water, or even get an extra hour of sleep.

The point is this: do what you think you need to do AFTER you’ve ticked off the fundamentals if your schedule permits.

Cycling recovery tips — get back to training sooner

For more advice on cycling recovery, you can read our blog post titled, Rest and Recovery — Key to Stronger Cycling. In this post, we dive a little deeper into the science and discuss recovery adaptations and more advice on how to recover post-ride.

And if you feel particularly fatigued, you might want to take a cycling recovery week.


What is a recovery ride in cycling?

A recovery ride is 30-60 minutes of riding in zone 1 power — it increases blood flow to the muscles to enhance the recovery process.

What helps sore legs after cycling? 

Stretching, proper nutrition, and hydration will help reduce DOMs. If the pain is intense, you can try an ice bath a few hours after finishing your ride. Furthermore, following our cycling recovery tips will help further enhance recovery.

How do pro cyclists recover?

Pro cyclists prioritise excellent nutrition, hydration, stretching, and other recovery methods. They also use the turbo trainer for low-intensity riding to increase blood flow to the muscles —  this helps flush out toxins and provides the muscles with essential nutrients for repair and recovery.


  1. Campa, F., Piras, A., Raffi, M., Trofè, A., Perazzolo, M., Mascherini, G., & Toselli, S. (2020). The effects of dehydration on metabolic and neuromuscular functionality during cycling. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(4), 1161.
  1. Casa, D.J., Armstrong, L.E., Hillman, S.K., Montain, S.J., Reiff, R.V., Rich, B.S., Roberts, W.O. and Stone, J.A., 2000. National athletic trainers’ association position statement: fluid replacement for athletes. Journal of athletic training, 35(2), p.212.
  1. Dai, L. and Luo, T., 2022. THE EFFECTS OF STRETCHING ON TRAINING CYCLISTS. Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Esporte, 29.
  1. Halson, S.L. and Juliff, L.E., 2017. Sleep, sport, and the brain. Progress in brain research, 234, pp.13-31.
  1. Ivy, J.L., 2004. Regulation of muscle glycogen repletion, muscle protein synthesis and repair following exercise. Journal of sports science & medicine, 3(3), p.131. 
  1. Judge, L.W., Bellar, D.M., Popp, J.K., Craig, B.W., Schoeff, M.A., Hoover, D.L., Fox, B., Kistler, B.M. and Al-Nawaiseh, A.M., 2021. Hydration to Maximize Performance and Recovery: Knowledge, Attitudes, and Behaviors Among Collegiate Track and Field Throwers. Journal of human kinetics, 79(1), pp.111-122.
  1. King, M.A. and Baker, L.B., 2020. Dehydration and exercise-induced muscle damage: Implications for recovery. Sports Sci. Exch, 29(1).
  1. Leabeater, A.J., James, L.P. and Driller, M.W., 2022. Tight Margins: Compression Garment Use during Exercise and Recovery—A Systematic Review. Textiles, 2(3), pp.395-421.
  1. Macklin, I. T., Wyatt, F. B., Ramos, M., & Ralston, G. (2019). A Meta-Analytical Review of Muscle Glycogen Replenishment. Journal of Professional Exercise Physiology, 16(3).
  1. Murray, B. and Rosenbloom, C., 2018. Fundamentals of glycogen metabolism for coaches and athletes. Nutrition reviews, 76(4), pp.243-259.
  1. Olarescu, N.C., Gunawardane, K., Hansen, T.K., Møller, N. and Jørgensen, J.O.L., 2019. Normal physiology of growth hormone in adults. Endotext [Internet].