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Cycling through the ages: Your 30s

| Blog, Cycling Plus, Features | 16/04/2013 09:00am

Are you old enough to remember Metal Mickey and Spangles? The read on if you want to make the most of cycling in your 30s!

Your 30s is the perfect decade for longer time-trials, sportives and triathlons

YOUR STRENGTHS

Natural strength peaks in this decade, says Andy Wadsworth, director of My Life PT. “Over time, your body learns how to build and efficiently recruit the key muscles specific to your chosen discipline,” he says. That means that in distances of up to 100km, you can clock consistent times until you’re 35, regardless of how you train. “After that,” he says, “you can’t rely on your age to predict your speed. The amount and intensity of your training becomes very important.”

No doubt a set training schedule adds structure to your otherwise chaotic life, but there’s another good reason why 30-somethings try longer rides and triathlons. “Fast-twitch muscle fibres, used for sprinting, are lost before slow-twitch fibres, making it easier for you to go for distance rather than speed as you age,” says Wadsworth.

YOUR WEAKNESSES

The first signs of middle-age spread might be rearing their ugly head, but don’t blame the clock. “Metabolism slows by around two per cent a year after 30, but the biggest factor in putting on weight is less weight-bearing exercise so you lose muscle mass,” says Dr Mark Hamer, exercise physiologist at University College London.

Lean muscle burns 28 times more calories per gram than fat, he explains, and with increasing pressures on your time – climbing the corporate ladder while struggling with nappies – it’s likely that you’ll forego resistance training sessions, and your waist might well start making its presence known at the same time as your times head downhill.

THE FOOD FIX
Avoid upsizing your bib shorts by re-evaluating your calorie needs. Find your ideal number by multiplying your weight by 10, add the calories you burn training (an 80kg adult burns about 700 calories an hour cycling at moderate intensity, when you can maintain a conversation, and 800 at high intensity, when you can’t). Add 10 per cent of that figure to get your daily grand total.

On the days when you don’t cycle or hit the gym, subtract 300-500 calories from your daily total, says Matt Rabin, nutritional advisor to Team Garmin-Sharp. And never skip meals. “This slows your metabolism, which makes it more difficult to manage your weight,” he says. “Keep snacking on fruit throughout the day and keep a bottle of water to hand with you all the time so staying fully hydrated – which aids digestion and speeds up your metabolism – becomes a habit, not a choice.”

THE FITNESS FIX
Resistance training is the answer to keeping your paunch under wraps (or at least inside your Lycra). “Doing whole-body exercises for just 30 minutes twice a week will significantly increase the body’s natural levels of growth hormone to maintain lean body mass at the same time as burning calories,” says Wadsworth.

“You’ll also strengthen smaller, supportive muscles around your joints which prevent injury, and improve your cycling efficiency by maintaining the muscle fibres you need for power in the saddle.” Focus on moves like lunges, deadlifts, squats, crunch variations and planks. “Focusing on variety, form and control is paramount – add light weights when possible, but not to the detriment of control.”

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