VéloRoo Cycling, Fitness and Nutrition Suggestions
VéloRoo Cycling, Fitness and Nutrition Suggestions to help you prepare for your VéloRoo cycling holiday.
Your preparation should be fun, so you are welcome to adapt the plan to suit your needs. That said, the main priority is to get as much saddle time as you can.
Prepare Hard – Holiday easy!
…OK that may sound extreme, but you get the idea!
Before embarking on any increased exercise routine you are advised to consult with your doctor, if you have a heart condition, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, joint or muscular issues, please seek professional medical and training advice before using this guide.
Cardiovascular (or aerobic) fitness exercise is about conditioning your heart and lungs. If you already actively enjoy cycling, swimming or running, congratulations, you are a big part of the way there!
Progressively increasing your time in the saddle along with variety is equally important. Include more distance with intervals, increase your speed and cadence (how quickly you pedal) and remember to seek out some hills. On your VéloRoo tour the landscapes and terrain will be different to what you are used to, so this will help you be ready.
Each week the plan progresses with increased volume and intensity so you can gradually build up fitness.
Warm-up and Cool down
Often overlooked, warming up and cooling down is a great practice to get into.
Just 5-10 minutes of any gentle cardio exercise that gently raises your pulse will get the blood flowing to your muscles and warmed up, reducing the chance of muscle fatigue caused by too much work too soon. At the end of your session slow down your heart rate to the point where your breathing returns to normal. Then perform stretches.
Strength exercises help condition the main cycling specific muscles. When riding your core, legs and glutes (bottom muscles) do all the work. Strengthening your legs, core, back and glutes helps you maintain a better riding position, keeping you comfortable for longer.
Other considerations are to keep your exercises controlled and steady, complete the recommended number of repetitions followed by a 1-2 minute rest between repetitions or change of exercise.
Finally, with all strength exercises, take care not to flex the spine or round the shoulders (hunching them forward). Keep good posture by focusing your eyes on the horizon, shoulders back and chin and chest proud. Many of the exercises target strengthening the core muscles, however, hold your core strong to help you maintain your posture during the other exercises.
Stretches help reduce injury, encourage flexibility and help you complete exercises comfortably.
The set of stretches we’ve chosen are recommend to do after you cool down, while muscles are still warm.
Rest, Recovery and Tapering
Rest, Recovery and Tapering…sounds very Pro Rider doesn’t it!
These times are critical periods for any balanced training program to allow your muscles to recover and adapt, in-turn improving your general fitness. We’ve built rest days into the plan, but you are free to extend rest should you feel particularly fatigued, especially at the start.
Tapering commences in the week before your cycling holiday. Tapering your training means you actually reduce the duration and intensity of your exercise to minimum level. Tapering allows your body to recover and re-energise in preparation for your VéloRoo cycling holiday to ensure you’re in the best possible shape to enjoy the South of France!
Short on time and it is not possible to stick to a structured regime? No worries!
Remember your pre VéloRoo Tour preparation plan isn’t to be a chore, there is no pass or fail, it should be fun. So consider some of the following ideas that will give you just that little bit of extra fitness.
- Ignore the lift or escalators and take the stairs.
- Cycle to and from work or a café if you can, rather than drive (some saddle time is better than none!)
- Take a brisk afternoon/evening walk rather than plop in front of the TV when you get home.
- Do the housework or gardening with a bit more vigour.
- Remember: always bend your knees, avoid flexing your lower back and remind yourself about posture.
Good nutrition for cycle training– no it’s not limited to mung bean and cabbage salads!
For endurance sports you should consume a diet relatively high in carbohydrates and hydrate sufficiently. The body turns carbohydrates into glycogen stored in the muscles and liver which is then used as energy when exercising. Your normal diet maybe sufficient to support low intensity exercise, however, as you progress to longer periods of training or include intervals or hills you will need to supplement your diet with additional complex carbohydrates to keep you going.
There are different types of carbohydrates; sugary carbohydrates provide an instant short term burst of energy, great for racing someone off at the lights. However, to prepare your body for endurance exercise (it is not as scary as it sounds), like your cycling holiday rides, you need carbohydrates that offer a slow release of energy over a long period. Protein, good fats and a well-rounded, nutrient rich diet are also essential to keep hunger at bay and sustain you on the rides. Your specific nutritional needs will vary depending on gender, metabolism, health, as well as the pace, gradient and length of a ride. Below are some very general guidelines based on an average healthy individual.
Before exercise what to eat and when :
Eat 2-4 hours before exercise. Some well balanced, good carbohydrate and protein pre-workout meals are: sandwiches with chicken, fish, cheese, egg, or peanut butter; jacket potato with beans, cheese, tuna, chicken; chunky soup with bread or brown rice; pasta with tomato based sauce and vegetables; chicken with rice; chicken and vegetable casserole with potatoes; salmon with veg. Eggs and toast or porridge with milk are great breakfast meals.
Snack 30 minutes before exercise with: fresh fruit; dried apricots, dates or raisins; smoothies; energy bars; oatcakes with fruit.
During and after exercise :
You want to remain fuelled, so for moderate to high intensity exercise of more than an hour, consuming some carbohydrates during exercise can help delay fatigue and prevent glycogen being depleted. Temporary hypoglycaemia (lowblood sugar) can occur after 2-3 hours of moderate exercise without carbohydrates. This could make you feel light headed and your muscles feel heavy. To help prevent this, top up your blood sugar with food or drink that is easy to digest and absorb such as: diluted fruit juice; bananas; raisins; energy / cereal bars, gels or jelly beans.
After exercise eat and rehydrate within 15 minutes of finishing. Exercise burns glycogen and breaks down muscle protein. increase your protein intake and replenishi your glucose with fast releasing carbohydrates. Try: fresh fruit with milk or yoghurt; sports bar; tuna & salad sandwich; oat or rice cakes with honey & peanut butter; nuts & dried fruits.
Hydration and fluid
Drinking two litres of water a day will prevent dehydration and keep your energy levels up. When you exercise, you should increase your fluid intake by an additional 0.5 to 1 litre for every hour of exercise. Alcohol does not contribute towards your fluid consumption and more than a modest amount of caffeine can also have a negative effect on hydration.
Programmes and plans described in this document may not be appropriate for everyone. All individuals, especially those with health concerns or
are recovering from any injury should consult their physician before undertaking any of the activities suggested in this document. The author has taken great care in developing these plans. However, they are neither responsible nor liable for any harm or injury resulting from this programme or the exercises described herein.
- Thanks to Tony and Vicky from Tone4121.com for their assistance with exercise descriptions and photos.
- Thanks to Cycling Australia for their expertise and guidance whilst I studied for my Cycling Australia Level 1 Road and Track Cycling Coach accreditation.