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10 things pro cyclists do to ride fast ⚡

Long gone are the days of stopping mid-race for a baguette and a beer or using leather chamois pads. Professional cyclists now are finely tuned athletes who squeeze every ounce of efficiency and success out of everything they do. If you find yourself plateauing with your fitness or not progressing as fast as you’d like, have a read of our list of habits and cycling tips that professional cyclists include in their daily routine. It will help you become a more successful rider.

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They ride their bike 💪

I mean, it is their job, isn’t it? The best way to get better at riding a bike is by…riding a bike. For hours at a time, over weeks and months and years of ‘just riding’ as well as specific training. Sometimes professional cyclists go fast and sometimes they’ll go so slow that even you or I might have a chance of passing them, but all this cycling training will add up to them being prepared for the demands of their race programme.

Pro cyclists never miss a training camp

Another great tip for cyclists is going on a training camp. Heading to a training camp allows you to fully concentrate on cycling without being distracted by everyday life. In addition, a training camp in winter is the perfect way to avoid the snow and ice in the north. Pro cyclists take every chance to spend the cold season in the south. Mallorca is one of the most popular places for road bike training in winter, so you will meet many pros on the island at this time.

5 Reading tips ► Road bike training camp im Mallorca

But they rest A LOT as well!

Fitness gains are made during sleep and recovery periods, so it’s no surprise professional cyclists take their recovery incredibly seriously. While it may no longer be as extreme as the methods some subscribed to in the past – where riders would literally just lie on the sofa before a ride, and then lie there again after – the principle remains the same, rest and recovery is important. The harder you go in your cycling training, the harder you need to recover.

The harder you train, the harder you need to recover!

PROFESSIONAL cyclists rest a lot

Pro cyclists know how important stretching is

It’s common knowledge that cycling can cause muscle tightness and rounded shoulders, among other issues. Professional cyclists recognise that they need their entire bodies to be strong if they’re to get the best out of themselves on the bike. So they include time for stretching and mobility exercises to work on any weaknesses they may have. If you find yourself with tight hamstrings or aching shoulders, it could be worth doing a couple of stretches a day, particularly after a ride, to help stretch out and reset your muscles so you can function as a human, not just as a cyclist.

Stretching exercises for cyclists

Pros are listening to their body

Professional cyclists are perfectly tuned in to their bodies. They can tell when they need to go deeper in an interval, or when they need to back off for fear of over-training or a niggling injury. They’ll also recognise when they need to suck it up and ride in the rain or call it a day when conditions get too dangerous. Long story short, they listen to their bodies and know when to push and when to rest. Just because your coach has set you a specific cycling training plan doesn’t mean you should push through pain or extreme fatigue – listen to what your body is telling you, otherwise you could injure yourself or cause long term fatigue through over-training.

14 alarm signs of over-training

Physical symptomsMental symptoms
Performance plateau or declining powerTiredness and lack of motivation
Palpitations or elevated heart rateMood disorders or depressive moods
Intense muscle soreness and painRestlessness and increased sensitivity
Long-lasting heavy legsMental exhaustion
Muscle loss despite trainingIncreased or decreased appetite
Frequent illnesses and susceptibility to infections
Reduced maximum lactate value
Weight loss or weight gain
Poor recovery

Pro cyclists stick to their diet

Professional cyclists burn a lot of energy during the day, that’s no secret. With hours on the bike, they need to make sure they fuel properly and with some of the best nutrition for cyclists. Yes, they might want to hit a target race weight, but it’s important to keep their energy stores up and fuel their riding so they can maximise their gains in training. They’ll make healthy, conscious food choices and make sure they eat a balanced diet through a cyclist nutrition plan so they get all the nutrients they need, while accounting for the occasional treat.

Specific strength training for cyclists

Although this is more popular during the winter or off-season, maintaining a strong body is important for cyclists who want to have a long career in the sport. Keeping your body fit and strong is vital and could prevent injuries and weaknesses from developing on the bike. Although more popular with track cyclists and sprinters, it’s part of nearly every professional cycling training plan as it pays dividends come the race season.

Strength training for cyclists

Mental training is common among pro cyclists

Cycling training doesn’t just happen in the body. Cyclists need to be mentally strong to be able to perform in such a punishing sport. In an environment where they might only win a few races throughout their professional career, if any at all, with almost inevitable setbacks and injuries, it’s vital they keep their head level and focussed so they can perform under intense pressure. Take a leaf out of their book and take a few minutes a day to concentrate on your breathing, perhaps try some mindfulness exercises and regain control of your mind.

Possibly a second bike ride…

Double days are common in a professional cyclist’s routine, and why shouldn’t they be, they have the luxury of riding bikes full time! Often during a particularly heavy part of their cycling training plan, or when they’re looking to rack up the mileage, pros might ride twice a day with two separate focusses on each training session. Or, in our modern era of multi-disciplinary training (and racing), they might take out their gravel or mountain bike for a more recreational ride that will still have benefits for mind and body.

Pros maintain their bikes 😉

When they’re not at races or training camps, the professional cyclist is unlikely to have a mechanic on tap to help them clean and maintain their bikes. Washing it after every ride is a good cycling tip and a great habit to get into as it prolongs the life of the drivetrain, particularly in winter after the rain and salt from the roads have given your bike a battering.

Reading tips for cyclists