This week I want to talk to you about the development of your fitness capabilities. If you train in any way to ride a bike, even just by casually riding, then you will probably be aware that at times your fitness seems to be improving, and at other times it feels like it is on pause or even going backwards.
As a human beings we all have limitations that are determined by our genetics. We all have just a few chromosomes that identify us as human beings. Within those chromosomes there are tiny variations that make you a unique individual.
Our unique chromatic codes will determine our physical capabilities but only at the very extreme. If you are a world class athlete it is likely that you are walking a tightrope of training so hard you can just cope. At these extremes it is possible that you will be hitting your genetic ceiling. For most of us the idea that our genetics are limiting our progress is not only a distraction but could also be sabotaging our development.
Most of us do not need to worry about hitting our genetic ceiling. It is impossible to quantify how much of our potential we are realising but if I was going to guess at my own percentage I would say maybe 75% 🤷🏻♂️🤷🏻♂️. IDK?
What are the things that I do that have stopped me from realising more of my 💯?
- Generally training in the same way each year.
- Gilding the abilities that I am already relatively good at.
- Ignoring the abilities that I am weak at.
- Drinking too much alchohol.
- Not investing enough time in recovery activities.
None of these things are anything to do with my genetics (except maybe drinking too much 🤣 ). Occasionally I have tried to fool myself into thinking that I am as good as I could ever be, but the self awareness always kicks in and I realise that I have much to improve upon.
Now you may have read up to this point and be thinking "I am pretty happy with where I am with my fitness."
If this is you then great, you can stop reading now.
One of the things that has always struck me about cycling is that it attracts a disproportionately large number of people who are always looking to push their personal boundaries. It is this ability to improve as we age that attracts so many older people to our great sport.
If you are one of these cyclists who, like me, gets excited and motivated about finding our how good you could be, then read on.
What do you need to do to make more progress?
- Always be self aware and honest with yourself. If you can't do this then you have no hope of improving.
- Write a list of all the things that you do well and have taken you to the point you are at now.
- Write a list of all the things you do less well that may be limiting your future progress.
For me these lists would be the following:
- Trained consistently.
- Improved my diet and nutrition.
- Set ambitious goals and challenges.
- Added in strength work in the gym.
Done less well:
- Not varied my training enough.
- Invested too much time becoming marginally better at things I am already relatively good at.
- Invested too little time in the things that limit my current performance.
- Not prioritised recovery enough.
I am pretty certain that these lists will look very similar for many of you!
Once you have written your lists then you need to develop strategies that will help you along the path you want to go down.
I know that you might roll your eyes and say " I knew that he was going to say this" but for me the single most important strategy for me to improve has been to seek help from coaches. I am self aware enough to know that I need the objectivity and accountability that a coach brings to my training.
Through my own initiatives and the support and guidance of my coaches I am now:
- Technically more proficient in the gym - meaning that my strength work is safer and complimentary to my bike training.
- Investing more time in the abilities that have limited my performance.
- Investing adequate time to maintain my relative strengths.
- Incorporating yoga into my daily routine at least 4 days per week.
- Using easy days to improve technical aspects of my riding.
All of the above has in some way taken me outside my comfort zone. If like me you have plateaued and are getting frustrated with your lack of progress or worse, deluded yourself that you have reached your potential, then you need to take action. If you don't change anything, the outcomes you are seeing will never change. I see so many people spend huge sums of money on bike hardware to make them faster when the one investment they need to make is in themselves. Eat better, sleep better, train better, recover better.
As I have always said getting really fit to ride a bike more quickly is blue collar work. If you don't put in the quality training time, focused on the right areas, you won't improve. We all know someone who everybody says is "genetically gifted" but the things that they might just be genetically gifted with are determination and drive. If you want to explore what you might be capable of then you need to dig in, believe in yourself and ruthlessly pursue your goals and dreams.
Rob Wakefield /
Founder & Coach