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Get fit fast - the pro way

Ever wondered how professionals quickly improve their fitness? We travelled to Mallorca with Wiggle-High5 to find out

Matthew Ray
25 Apr 2016

We all lead busy lives so when we have time to sink into a training camp, or sportive plan, it makes sense to maximise the training benefit. This is especially true if you’ve targeted a specific event or challenge this season, or if you just want to shed weight to fit into your favourite summer jersey.

When it comes to making the most of short windows, pro teams have to be good – winningly good, in fact. There’s no point being the top-ranked pro team in the world if your riders aren’t in shape to race, as Wiggle-High5 well knows. Cyclist travelled to Mallorca with the team to find out how the pros improve their fitness ahead of a demanding season, and get a taste of training camp life.

How to fuel your training 

There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there on eating, weight gain and nutrition but there’s one golden rule that you should always bear in mind for cycling, according to Wiggle-High5’s nutritional advisor Raphael Deinhart: fuel your riding. 

Whether you’re on a training camp, or just following a plan with multiple days training in a week, then how you fuel every session is crucial.

‘Fuel yourself properly all the time, from morning through the day, through the ride and afterwards,' says Deinhart. 

'If you don’t, and start the next day carb-depleted, then you will never catch back up – it’s like a downward spiral and that’s why people get ill or injured in the last few days of a camp.'

consume 60-90g of carbohydrate per hour while riding from a variety of sources

Nutrition starts with breakfast and Wiggle-High5’s riders don’t skimp on it. ‘My family always laugh at the size of my breakfasts,’ says London 2012 gold medallist Dani King. ‘I have a huge bowl of porridge with berries, or dried fruit and nuts and honey.’

‘Start fuelling during your ride from the word go,’ says Deinhart, who recommends that you consume 60-90g of carbohydrate per hour while riding, from a variety of sources including sports drink, energy bars, bananas and gels (there’s about 40g in a bidon of sports drink or one energy bar). ‘You shouldn’t wait for an hour on the ride before you start to eat or drink fuel. Especially over several days of riding,’

What’s more, keeping your intake consistent is important. ‘For every hour that you don’t eat, you can’t make it up. So if you don’t consume anything for the first hour, then that’s a hour of fuelling missed,’ Deinhart warns.

King agrees, though she admits it’s not always easy. ‘I find it hard to eat on the bike and that’s bad because then I tend to overeat afterwards – so I try to eat one piece of food an hour whether that’s a bar or a banana, or whatever.’

You might be wondering whether the pros favour natural foods over sports ones, or vice versa. ‘There’s no real difference between natural foods and sports foods,’ says Swedish National Road Race Champion Emma Johansson. ‘What’s important is that you can eat so find something that you don’t mind eating while riding.’

Variety will help you to keep things fresh, on and off the bike. ‘I love experimenting with recipes,’ says King. ‘I make protein balls in my Nutribullet [food blender] and put matcha green tea powder in there.’

But it’s not all about food. ‘If you lose 2% of your bodyweight in fluids then there’s a performance drop of 10% – it’s massive,’ says Deinhart. Aim to drink 500ml per hour. ‘Anything less is risking dehydration.’

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