3 Reasons You Should NOT Train Like a Professional Cyclist

Have you ever watched the Tour de France? If you’ve seen it, or any professional cycling race for that matter, you probably noticed the size of the riders. More specifically, the lack of size. A lot of these guys weigh a measly 120-135lb. A dieter’s dream, right? Well, not so fast. Bicycling can help you lose weight, but you might not want to train like a professional cyclist.

Pro cyclists ride A LOT, so they’re in amazing shape when in comes to cycling. But there’s a difference between being a professional athlete and being healthy. If you want to be fit or are trying to lose weight, here are three reasons not to train like a pro:

1. You Need Variety in Your Exercise Routine

In most cases, a pro cyclist will train their entire body, but the main focus is, by far, their legs. And of that leg training, most of it takes place on the bike.

The most obvious problem with this routine is that you could end up with that tell-tale pro cyclist look – giant legs beneath an upper body rivaling that of a starving, emaciated child. Beneath the surface, you could have muscle imbalances in your legs, and those could lead to a variety of knee and hip ailments down the road. Mentally, you might simply get bored with cycling if it is your only exercise.

Someone who wants to be fit for everyday life should work their body in a more balanced way.

Here are a few tips:

  • Work your upper and lower body equally to give yourself a balanced physique.
  • Work all your muscle groups by performing a wide variety of exercises, which could include running, cycling, swimming, weight lifting, plyometrics, and/or bodyweight exercises.
  • Be sure to include resistance training (weight lifting) or something with impact (running) in order to build your bone density. Low-impact sports like cycling have much less effect on bone density.
  • It’s fun to participate in multiple sports! Try soccer, basketball, beach volleyball, ice hockey, skiing, and/or snowboarding to get a different type of workout. (Variety is the spice of life, as they say.)

2. You’ll Crave Lots of Food, Especially Sugar

Too much cycling can actually sabotage your diet! For many people, endurance exercise makes them very hungry, and most of the time, they crave sugar. Cycling is arguably the worst of the endurance sports because you can probably ride for much longer than you can swim or run, which just makes the cravings that much stronger.

This does not affect everyone the same way, but cycling can really sabotage your diet, especially if you’re trying to stay low carb or Paleo. Even worse, some people try to ignore their hunger during cycling, which just means they will end up stuffing their face after the ride!

So if you overcompensate post-ride, you end up eating more calories than you burnt! To make matters worse, all the extra food you may eat during a ride (i.e. energy bars and sports drinks,) it’s not healthy stuff!

3. It Takes Way Too Much Time

Pros regularly spend 6-8 hours per day on their bikes while racing or training. If you’re not planning to race 5+ hours per day for three weeks straight this July, you don’t need to train for it!

Cycling still makes for a great cardio workout, but it is a double-edged sword. See, you can ride long distances with relative ease (at least compared to running the same distance,) which is loads of fun. And the longer you ride, the more calories you will burn. But it also means you get less of a workout for a given time span.

So if you are crunched for time (like virtually everyone that isn’t paid to exercise,) there’s no way you can train like a pro. If you do, you’ll most likely lose your job, your friends, and maybe even your family (who will suggest that you lost your sanity.)

Cycling can be a great, fun activity for most people, but it is best in limited quantities. If you want to stay fit and stick to your diet, I suggest that you do not attempt to train like a professional cyclist.

Coach Levi

Hi. I'm Coach Levi. I teach people how to train and race road and mountain bikes at CoachLevi.com. Check it out for more help with proper training, nutrition, and riding skills - and you'll win more races!

5 thoughts on “3 Reasons You Should NOT Train Like a Professional Cyclist

  • October 7, 2011 at 5:53 am

    rowing would help as well!

  • October 6, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    i cycle a lot & i agree with you about the upper body being weak. I bought a concept2 rower & that’s done the trick for the top half of my body!;o)

    • October 7, 2011 at 8:53 am

      That’s a nice machine! Rowing can work your upper body, and bodyweight exercises are good too, especially if you don’t have the money or space for a rowing machine.

  • October 6, 2011 at 8:03 am

    There was a time when i was fond of the cycling but now the time has been changed and i am not interested in cycling because i am too much occupied in my life.

    • October 7, 2011 at 8:50 am

      I recommend everyone (except pros that actually make money doing this) to ride in moderate amounts so they don’t get burnt out. Cycling is fun and can be a great stress reliever if you’re feeling too occupied with other things.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *