Both competitive and non-competitive cyclists can improve sports performance by maintaining an ideal body weight. What constitutes as your personal ideal body weight depends on your height, gender and goals. Maintaining an ideal body composition and a healthy body weight means less drag while cycling, which translates into greater efficiency and increased speed.
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Importance of Cycling Weight
Body weight contributes to the overall mass of the bike while cycling. The heavier the rider and the more the mass, the more energy it takes to propel the bike forward, therefore making a healthy, lighter body weight more efficient for cycling. For every pound you carry above your ideal cycling body weight, you will cycle 15 to 20 seconds slower over the course of each mile, according to “Bicycling.” Maintain an ideal weight to help reduce general fitness fatigue and to reap health benefits, such as the normalization of blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugars, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ideal Cycling Weight
The average male, elite, world-cycling champions weigh 150 pounds and stand 5’10”, while their female counterparts weigh 121.5 pounds and stand 5’5”, according to Mike Schultz, CSCS, CPT. Focus on attaining an ideal body composition with a healthy body-fat percentage when attempting to reach your ideal cycling weight, or your sweet spot. For peak performance, men should maintain a body-fat percentage of 6 to 13 percent and women should maintain 14 to 20 percent of body fat, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Attaining Ideal Body Composition
Eat a healthy, balanced diet and perform regular strength training in addition to your cycling workouts to help reduce unwanted body-fat, preserve lean muscle and attain your ideal cycling weight. Avoid drastic caloric restriction as a weight-loss means because it can lead to a reduction in lean muscle tissue and compromised strength and performance, cautions Shultz. Lose no more than 1 or 2 pounds per week and no more than 1 percent of body fat per month to safely reach your ideal cycling weight without sacrificing health or performance, recommends the American Council on Exercise.
Caveats to Underweight Cycling
Reducing your body weight can improve cycling performance to an extent, but avoid going below the recommended body-fat percentages as this could have detrimental effects on your health and performance. Keep at least the minimum-recommended essential body fat to avoid interference with immune function, impaired energy levels and sickness, recommends “Bicycling.” See a certified fitness professional to check your body-fat level, determine how much weight you need to lose to reach your ideal cycling weight and help you create a safe weight-loss regimen.