Cheshire Cycletta Oct 2012 - Cycling & Fitness tips

By Robert Brennan

Fitness Expert on the benefits of cycling and taking part in Cheshire Cycletta 2012

September 3, 2012

Firstly I would just like to say a big congratulations to all the ladies registered on the Cycletta Cheshire 2012! It is a fantastic event and will raise money for an extremely worthwhile charity, Macmillan Cancer Support. Signing up is just the first step, now you need to focus your energy on achieving the goal; cycling 40km in the beautiful Tatton Park on 7 October 2012. It is a fantastic setting and the presence of the highly inspirational Victoria Pendleton will surely be enough to see you through. But just in case you need that extra bit of support, here are some tips and advice as well as a few free classes to help you on your way.

You have made a great decision in cycling for charity because it is one of the most prolific ways to get super fit and is also great fun. It works the biggest muscle groups in the body; the quadriceps (thigh area), glutes (buttocks and core) and calf complex (rear lower leg). Unsurprisingly, it has a huge metabolic impact on the body and, after a tough cycle session, you will be burning calories for days as your body heals and repairs itself to become stronger and leaner than before. It also has huge cardiovascular benefits, meaning your heart and lungs will be better off the more you cycle. You will be fitter, stronger and quite simply, live longer!

In short, if you have signed up then well done! And, if you haven't, you really should! Get fit, meet new friends, raise cash for a great charity and rub shoulders with some sporting superstars and celebrities; it really is a no brainier.

Tips of the trade...

I am a keen cyclist myself and have taken part in both Olympic and sprint triathlons, with the cycle being a great part of the race (you can read more about my exploits here)Triatheletes Blog

At the Hampstead branch of Fitness Universal, I used to teach Spinning 4 or 5 times per week and it really is a phenomenal work out. With the right instructor, you will be in and out of the saddle, pushing through climbs, riding long flat stretches with high leg speed and performing brutal short sprints over a gruelling 45 minute class. As an ex-investment banker, it was spinning that stripped the evidence of my banking days from my waist, and transformed my physique. It is the next best thing to actually getting on a bike and riding outdoors and is a great complement to any cyclist’s training no matter what level they are. I'd suggest one class per week if you can fit it in and Click here to register your interest in a free spin class for Cycletta participants!

It is important to remember that with cycling, you don't just have to train 'on the bike'. There are many reasons to avoid cycle training; “the weathers too bad” , “I've got a puncture” , “it's getting dark”, “it's too much hassle getting the bike out” and so on. Do any of these excuses sound familiar? Well I've been there! I know how it feels to know a 50k cycle is on the training plan, but just not have the motivation to do it. It's okay to feel that way, even if you're training for an event like this. The key is variety in your training, and that's where I can help.

Kettlebells, thought to be first used as a training tool in Russia hundreds of years ago, are the perfect companion for a cyclist. Their correct use develops explosive power in the glutes and quads, whilst strengthening and stabilising the joints of the knee, ankle and hip by activating hundreds of stabilising muscles not usually reached in more conventional exercise. They also strengthen ligaments and tendons and other connective tissue throughout the body and are fabulous for improving core stability. A kettlebell class is a fast and extreme cardio workout; 20 minutes at a time is more than enough to exhaust your body, as well as build lean muscle in exactly the right areas. I have trained everyone from marathon runners to triathletes, badminton to rugby players, and the kettlebell has delivered every time. Students are faster, stronger, more stable, with more stamina. If you like the sound of these benefits, Click here to register your interest in a free kettlebell class for Cycletta participants!

Another gem for your itinerary is skipping. Calves, quads and glutes all take a hammering during the activity, and the beauty is that you only need to skip for a very short time to see real benefit. If you are pushed for time, grab your rope and perform 10 single minutes of skipping with each minute broken up by 10-20 reps of a leg focussed body weight exercise such as a squat, squat jump, lunge, reverse lunge or squat thrust. It will feel harder than a half hour run! Don't worry, I have a vast array of exercises to fill the gaps! During my triathlon training last year, I stripped more minutes off of my 10k run time through intense skipping and body weight routines than I ever would have done just pounding the streets like your average athlete. Ropes are £3 in Tesco so no excuses!

There is an analogy from Paul Chek, that having a weak core is like firing a cannon from a canoe; it's hopeless! Imagine a cyclist with a weak core and poor control over the stability of the pelvis. As they push one leg down, the pelvis will rock, reducing the power in the push and expending energy to straighten it up again. The same happens when the other leg pushes and so on. the pelvic wobble is common on a bike and makes the ride 10 times harder! Now imagine someone whose hips are stable and 100% of the energy they put into the pedal stroke is transmitted into the bike; the cannon is fixed in stone. The result is more power and speed and far less wasted energy. I have many exercises from simple core work to more complex Pilates, all of which which will strengthen your lower back and core to give you more power and speed on the bike as well as saving you vital energy. These exercises are integral in all of my training and will feature in the free classes on offer. They are quite frankly a must, and an easy win in improving your cycling, not to mention eliminating any lower back pain.

My final tip is look after your body as you only get one! Training for an event which involves many repeated bodily motions such as cycling or running will fatigue certain muscles over and over again. Yes they get stronger, but they also get tighter and tiny bits of scar tissue form within the muscles, locking in toxins as well as lactic acid deposits and causing muscles to perform sub optionally.

Varied training helps of course because you’re not just hitting the same muscles again and again, but you still need to maintain your body just as you would your car, bike or anything else!

Regular sports massage is a huge help. It hurts a lot at first but it gets better the more you go, and your performance will be greatly boosted. If that's too pricey or time consuming however, then the foam roller is your new best friend. I'll run free demo classes for foam rolling if anyone wants to find out more, so all your needs are catered for to make the Cycletta an enjoyable and beneficial experience for you.

Between now and the event, make sure that you drink loads (of water!) whether it is a training day or not. Water is the much forgotten secret to greater vitality, a clearer mind and a more detoxified body especially at times of training.

Of course there is the need for a healthy diet and plenty of sleep to consider, but I'd better save something for my next article! Good luck and I hope to hear from you soon! Rob