10 steps to your ideal cycling weight

How to become a leaner, lighter and faster rider

Reaching your target weight is one of the best ways to get more out of your training.

Henry Furniss, personal trainer and co-founder of Wyndymilla Bespoke Cycling, uses diet and nutrition alongside his limited exercise time to keep in peak physical condition.

We spoke to him to get his top 10 tips for losing weight and getting lean.

1. Do the maths

“Most people have a clearly defined weight at which they can perform without compromise,” says Furniss. Eliminate guesswork: find a health professional who can measure body fat using calipers. “The right target can then be set, accounting for lean gains as well as fat loss.”

2. Plan ahead

“Plan the date you’re going to start your new regime,” says Furniss. “Give yourself at least a week to psych up and think through the logistics of the changes you’ll make.”

3. Eat well

“Don’t think of your quest as a diet,” Furniss continues. “The right foods will usually have higher nutrient values but a lower calorie density.” It’s simply a case of eating the right types of food, such as fruit, vegetables, lean meats and fish.

4. Structure your meals

“Many people eat very little for breakfast or just skip it completely,” says Furniss. “We’d be a much leaner nation if breakfast was king and the evening meal light. As much as 40 per cent of your calorie intake should be consumed in the morning.” Avoid starchy foods like bread, rice and pasta in the evening.

5. Drink more

“Stay hydrated. This is key if your body is going to react with greatest effect to all your efforts,” says Furniss. He suggests drinking herbal liquids to stave off hunger as your body adjusts to smaller evening meals: “Teas like peppermint or ginger top up your hydration and also aid digestion.”

Hydration is a vital part of your training
Hydration is a vital part of your training

Why not make your own sports drinks? Read How to make your own energy drinks to find out how.

6. Be realistic

Set out the right training targets. “Less is more, especially for us busy folk,” says Furniss. “Go for three solid sessions rather than aiming for five and feeling bad if you miss one. I maintain my elite licence on three hours of training a week, give or take.”

7. Set yourself goals

“Get goal driven,” says Furniss. “It’s a cliché, but consistency is key.” Whatever your aim is, put it in a diary. It'll give you the drive you need to avoid the muffins.

8. Add wisely

“Don’t shy away from supplementation,” says Furniss. Getting what you need from a natural balanced diet can be hard with a job, family and training. Essential fats and recovery drinks can boost weight loss and keep immune responses up.

9. Hit the sack 

“Overtraining is normally just a case of under-resting,” Furniss explains. “Without enough sleep our ability to remain disciplined and focused is severely compromised. Seven to nine hours is ideal.”

Sleep is important - make sure you get enough
Sleep is important - make sure you get enough

10. Get support

“Social pressures can put strain on your health kick,” says Furniss. “The last thing you need is breakfast-skipping vultures circling you with pizzas and beer late at night. Get them on board.”  

Looking good

Let's be honest, as well as improving our power-to-weight ratio and cycling performance, losing weight and toning up has the added benefit of making us easier on the eye. Henry Furniss gives us his body fat percentage guide to looking good naked…

18 percent or more: With your clothes on, you look overweight.

16-18 percent : You look like you hold no excess weight when fully clothed.

15 percent : Starting to look good naked.

13 percent : You won’t be compromising performance due to excess body fat.

10 percent : Somebody’s resembling the Michelangelo statue…

5-8 percent : Ripped to bits; the optimal level at which all top level, in-form male endurance athletes perform.

The percentages for women are generally higher with women's body fat content being on average 6-11% more than men. Women should come in around 25-32% for an average female, 24-28% for a healthy, well-trained female, 15-24% for an elite athlete though they may drop body weight below this for brief periods of time. 

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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