Carrying less total weight can absolutely affect your cycling performance, which is why many cyclists aim to have the lightest bikes and the best riders have very lean bodies. Some gear junkies go as far as weighing each gram of equipment to get their setup as light as possible. Products from bikes to sunglasses typically list their weight in grams to show which items are the lightest. ‘Weight Weenies,’ as they are known in the cycling community, are willing to pay extra for these lightweight items. Investing in light gear is an easy (although expensive) way to buy speed, but there is another option: your body!
Type of Effort
The type of riding you do can influence whether or not you need to focus on weight loss for performance. Flat roads and sprint finishes do not see a significant improvement from a change in weight status. However, in situations like long hill climbs and sprinting out of corners, being lighter reduces the energy output needed when comparing a heavier cyclist to a lighter one. Using data analysis, such as Best Bike Split, can show you exactly how much your times can improve on a particular ride at various weights.
Power to Weight
This is known as the power to weight ratio; a marker of cycling performance. In this ratio, when weight decreases and power increases or even stays the same, your performance on the bike is better because you are essentially doing less work to have the same outcome. To find your ratio, simply divide your power by weight in kilograms. For example, a 50kg cyclist who can hold 300 watts has a power to weight ratio of 6 while an 80kg cyclist holding 300 watts only has a power to weight ratio of 3.8. That 80kg rider has to put out 300 watts to keep up with the 50kg rider doing only 190. While losing weight is a great way to improve this ratio, improving power is also critical. Cyclists who drop too much weight or lose weight without maintaining fitness will see their power drop, which is not beneficial.
Muscle vs. Mass
An important note is that power to weight is based on total body mass. Whether you have a super a lean body or extra fat isn’t part of this equation. This is because that weight is still weight you have to use energy to haul around. Having more muscle mass might make you a better sprinter or stronger overall, but it will still work against you in weight-based situations like the ones mentioned above. Of course muscle burns more calories, making it easier to maintain a leaner body. Having more muscle on your frame can also help improve power outputs and reduce risk of injury. The more excess weight you are currently carrying, the more you should focus on total body mass or BMI. Once a healthy weight is obtained, more gains will come by looking at body fat measurements and working toward a toned, lean and strong body.
The more weight you have to lose, the more significant impact weight loss can make on your performance due to health gains associated with obtaining a healthy BMI, such as decreased shortness of breath, less pressure on joints, improved glucose metabolism and more. Getting to a healthy weight for your height should be step one. For cyclists already in great form, losing more weight will continue to have performance benefits as hauling even a pound less makes the effort easier.
Of course, many cyclists can take weight loss too far. Reaching a BMI that is too low can increase risk of injury, delay recovery, reduce power output, increase fatigue, increase risk of nutrient deficiency and disrupt female athletes’ hormones. Being ultralight might make you faster, but if you’re injured, tired and malnourished, you won’t be a better athlete in the long run.
Reducing weight from your bike and body can help you be a faster, more competitive athlete. Weigh your gear and look for lighter options if you’re able. If you have excess body weight, focus on losing a few pounds. Aim to clean up your fueling choices with a diet that includes a variety of whole foods and balanced meals. Losing weight in a slow, steady way while still working on fitness will keep you from losing power as you drop pounds. Working with a sports dietitian can also assist you with making these improvements.
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How to Fuel for a 5K
“Gimme fuel, Gimme fire, Gimme that which I desire” – Fuel, Metallica
The lyric above is more appropriate than it may appear when it comes to preparing your body for a 5K of hard-out racing effort.
The simple fact is that fueling for a race as short as a 5K, a race that will take most runners under 35 minutes, does not have to be a complicated endeavor. To work hard for a half hour, you need some kind of fuel for your fire and it can be—like the song says—that which you desire.
You can, if you want, race a 5K on two Taco Bell chalupas. You can also dump vodka into your car’s gas tank and try the quarter mile. Just know that you’re probably going to pay the price either way. For athletes concerned about performance, a higher grade octane is needed. The fuel you’re looking for is carbohydrates.
Consuming carbs the night before a race will ensure that your glucose levels are high. Glucose is what your body will turn to for energy. Not only do your muscles use glucose, but so does your brain. A healthy carb bump the afternoon before your race will help you stay focused on the course.
What are carbs, specifically? Pasta is a carbohydrate, and a flexible one at that because there are so many ways to prepare it. Throwing some tomato-based sauce and many colors of vegetables into a pasta dish is a great way to prepare a healthy and tasty meal.
Bread and rice are also familiar sources of carbs. But fruit and quinoa, a grain which doubles as a great source of protein, will also fill your tank with the proper power. Be sure not to eat too much; you don’t want to try to digest and sleep with a stuffed stomach.
Feeling tired or waking up still full will compromise any positive benefits your pre-race meal might have given you. A good rule of thumb is to eat like a 5-year-old. Eat until you feel satisfied; then stop.
Don’t forget to hydrate the day before. You don’t want to be sloshing around the house, but you also don’t want to be dry at the start line. If plain water is boring, there are many other products like coconut water and sport drinks out there.
The Best Holiday Gifts for Women Who Run
Ready or not, the 2019 holiday season is fast approaching and we can bet there’s at least one female runner on your gift list. Whether you’re looking to treat someone to a big-ticket item or searching for a little something for the run club gift exchange, we’ve got you covered. And if you pick up a few goodies for yourself, we won’t tell!
For the Runner With Aches and Pains
Compex Fixx Massager, $250
Whether it’s a 5K or an ultramarathon, her muscles take a lot of pounding on the pavement when running. Help her reduce muscle tension, soothe aches and pains, help prevent injury and run her best with the Compex Fixx 1.0 massager. Portable and easy to use, this is the secret tool runners will want to take everywhere.
Fixx is a portable, battery-operated massager that offers three speeds and a three-angle adjustable head that allows her to reach and treat different muscle groups with preferred massage intensity, so she can get back to feeling great–sooner than later. A low-noise motor allows for discreet use which means finding relief whenever the need strikes is easy. Fixx comes in a compact case that also holds the rechargeable battery and its charger, making it convenient to toss in a gym bag, stash in a desk drawer, throw in a suitcase or tuck away near the couch so it’s always handy.
For Your 5 a.m. Running BFF
Tracksmith Inverno Gloves, $32
The Tracksmith Inverno Gloves are the perfect gift for the gal who never misses a morning run, no matter the weather. These super soft gloves are tech-friendly (i.e. they work on smart phone screens) and if she needs to wipe a runny nose, special thumb pads prevent skin irritation.
For the Runner Putting in Lots of Miles
Oiselle Flyout Wool Long Sleeve, $86
Made of merino wool, the Oiselle Flyout Wool Long Sleeve will resist stink, even if she wears it a few times between washes. But our favorite feature is the watch window on the sleeve–no tugging or fumbling required.
Something Fun for a Group Gift Exchange
Hoppy Trails GU 8-pack, $12
For the run crew that always ends at the local pub, the Hoppy Trails GU 8-pack is practical and amusing. If she spends her miles thinking about the icy cold one she’ll drink afterward, this unique flavor of energy gel might be just the ticket. Bonus: It comes with a pint glass for her post-run refreshment of choice.
For Your Favorite Mother Runner
Sarah Marie Design Studio Muscle Tank, $34
Know a mama who manages to log big miles while also raising little ones? This Sarah Marie Design Studio Muscle Tank is a sweet reminder that she’s putting the “Ma” in “Marathoner.”
For the Runner Who Loves Practical Gifts
Thinx Sports Brief, $32
Thank goodness for technology–when it’s that time of the month, your favorite female runner now has another option. Whether she’s looking to prevent leaks or just wants a comfy under layer, the Thinx Sports Brief wicks away sweat and can absorb over a tampon’s worth of liquid.
For the Runner With Big 2020 Goals
The Compete Training Journal, $22
Created by elite runner Lauren Fleishman, the Compete Training Journal is a follow up to the beloved Believe Training Journal. This interactive book will help her stay focused during the grit of training, develop a smart race strategy and most importantly, enjoy the process. The journal has space for workout logs and race plans, as well as a calendar and pace charts.
Find more gifts on page two!
7 Inspiring Female Figures in Art and Science
When working with a young scientist on their latest experiment or a young artist on a creativity streak, you might be left wondering what to do next to keep them inspired. Sharing the stories of others’ success in these fields is a great option–but whose story to tell?
It’s easy to find stories of men in science, as it was a viable option for them per societal norms no matter how far back you go. But when it comes to inspiring your young female scientist, future architect or author, you may have to do a bit of digging. Luckily, as soon as you start your search the list of women who pioneered great successes in the field is long.
We curated some of the top scientists and artists who have inspired others in our lives. From physicist Marie Curie who shed new light on the atom, to Zaha Hadid who designed some of the most influential and iconic buildings in the world, here are seven inspiring female figures in the arts and sciences.
Comment below and tell us your female inspiration that didn’t make the list! Inspired by this list of women? Check out these great books for young aspiring artists and scientists.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
This Polish physicist, famous for her work related to the radioactive elements, wasn’t just a pioneer in her field but a pioneer for all women in science. She changed the way we looked at the atom, discovered new elements and paved the way for advances in medical treatment and technology. For this work, and her love and dedication to it, she became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize in Physics. Later, she received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, making her not only the only woman to have received two awards, but the only person to have received a Nobel Prize in two fields of science. She also was the first female professor at the University of Paris where she worked to inspire others in her field.
Primatologist and anthropologist
“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Perhaps one of the most famous women on this list, Jane Goodall has become somewhat of a cultural and global icon. She made a name for herself through her unparalleled chimpanzee research in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania in 1960. Goodall has continued her research for over 55 years, founding the Jane Goodall Institute and spreading the message of the importance of animal welfare and conservation. Like Marie Curie, Jane Goodall was also a parent, who balanced time with her child with her field work and research.
Pilot and author
“Never interrupt someone doing something you said couldn’t be done.”
Inspired to fly at a young age, Amelia Earhart was more than just a pilot. She changed the way women were viewed in aviation, providing inspiration for others and paving the way for more women to fly inside the cockpit. She’s most famously known as the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, but her career was unfortunately ended prematurely when she went unexplainably missing over the Pacific Ocean on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 1937.
“Personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a checklist of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications are not your life.”
Widely known as her pen name J.K. Rowling, Joanne Rowling is the author of the best selling book series of all time, Harry Potter. In the midst of facing some low moments in her personal life, Rowling came up with the idea of Harry Potter on a delayed train, wrote it out on napkins, and seven years later, in 1997, the story was published. Her colorful and descriptive storytelling unveiled an entirely new world of thoughtful adventure to audiences around the globe, and she instilled a love of reading into generations to come.
“There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?”
Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid was one of the most prolific and influential architects in modern history, and arguably considered the greatest female architect of all time. Her style is unmistakable–she’s known for playing with geometric shapes in her designs, creating structures and buildings that often feature sweeping, asymmetric curves. Her notable designs include the London Aquatics Center (used in the 2012 Olympic Games), the Guangzhou Opera House in China, the Extension of Ordrupgaard Museum in Charlottenlund, Denmark, and the Bridge Pavilion in Zaragoza, Spain. She has a few posthumous projects under construction, most notably the stadium that will be used for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Writer, scientist and ecologist
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
With the abundant environmental issues facing society today, marine biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson’s outlook on ecology is more relevant than ever. Her book, Silent Spring, focused on the issues associated with synthetic pesticides, most specifically DDT. It created a nationwide awareness and consciousness of how our actions as humans impact the natural world, which ultimately led to DDT and other pesticides being banned. While not directly connected, her work led to the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency, which is still a major part of national dialogue today.
Marine Biologist, explorer, author
“Knowing is the key to caring, and with caring there is hope that people will be motivated to take positive actions. They might not care even if they know, but they can’t care if they are unaware.”
Many of us dream of a life of adventure, but very few actually live that dream. Sylvia Earle was one such woman. She’s a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, and she has published over 150 publications on her ocean explorations and research. Earle, now 84 years old, is currently working with Mission Blue, a non-profit with a mission to “inspire action to explore and protect the ocean.” While she has a whole host of accolades to her name, perhaps her most impressive is her award from Time Magazine in 1998: Hero for the Planet.
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