Words: Kenny Wilson
Done right, shedding weight while the racing season is in full swing can deliver valuable gains – a prized commodity beyond the off-season. But cyclists beware: the wrong approach can lay waste to months of hard graft.
It's vital to strike a balance between trimming pounds and maintaining strength and energy levels, staying clear of illness or depletion. In this blog post, we'll explore five strategies for hitting your optimal race weight while continuing to thrive on race day.
Embrace intervals Incorporate interval training into your cycling routine to maximise fat burning while preserving muscle mass. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) involves alternating periods of intense effort with recovery. This method elevates heart rate, boosts the metabolism and promotes fat burning, even after a session. Add sprints, hill repeats or intervals into your schedule to stimulate weight-loss while staying race-ready.
Optimise your diet A well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet is crucial both for weight-loss and performance. Focus on consuming whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Be mindful of portion sizes and avoid excessive consumption of sugary or processed foods. Prioritise complex carbohydrates to fuel your rides effectively while cutting back on unnecessary calories. Consult with a sports nutritionist to tailor your diet specifically for your weight-loss goals and cycling needs.
Get moving! Get active away from the bike to burn more calories throughout the day. Diversity your workouts with activities like swimming, running or strength training to activate different muscle groups. Simple habitual adjustments like walking more or taking the stairs instead of an elevator will boost your calorie burn. The smallest lifestyle changes can make a major difference to your weight-loss journey.
Monitor calorie intake and expenditure To reach weight-loss goals, it's important to create a calorie deficit. Use a food diary or app to track your daily caloric intake accurately. Be mindful of hidden sources of calories, such as sugary drinks or snacks. Combine this with monitoring your calorie expenditure during workouts using a heart-rate monitor or fitness tracker. Understanding the balance between calories consumed and calories burned will help you adjust your diet and exercise regime for effective, safe weight-loss.
Prioritise recovery and rest While it's essential to become more active for weight-loss, that extra effort will be wasted without rest. Proper recovery allows your body to repair and adapt to the stress of training, preventing overuse injuries and burnout. Ensure you are getting enough sleep, scheduling rest days and committing to active recovery practices such as stretching or foam-rolling. Balancing intense workouts with adequate rest will optimise your weight-loss journey and unlock those hard-earned gains.
Losing weight while continuing to race during the cycling season requires a thoughtful approach that prioritises nutrition, training, and recovery. By optimising your diet, incorporating interval training, increasing overall activity, monitoring calories and balancing rest and recovery, you can achieve your weight-loss goals without compromising performance. Remember to consult with professionals such as nutritionists or coaches to tailor these strategies to your specific needs and get the most out of your racing season.
Embrace the journey, stay consistent and enjoy the benefits of a healthier, leaner body out on the road, track or trail!
"I think the human element on top of Kenny's scientific approach made a big difference. I wouldn’t have anyone else in my corner." Jack Wilson, former U23 Irish champion.