Too old to improve?

New shoes. Fi’zi:k R5. A Christmas present from myself. Found them in a local shop at a clearance price.

New cleats. A Christmas gift from another.

Finally installed the cleats last evening ready for the next ride. Surprisingly, the setup is lighter than my Shimano SH-R240 shoes.

I purchased the Fi’zi:k shoes because I liked them, I needed a new shoe for commuting, they were a good price and, I wanted to reduce the wear on the Shimano’s. Now, I am not certain which I will prefer to wear. The Fi’zi:k’s are sweet.

Fitting the cleats last night got me thinking. Are you ever too old to improve?

I like to think I am older but better. I am a better cyclist today than I was 25 years ago. I’m in better condition. Have better technique. And, I cycle more than ever. Can I get better at my age?

One of my sons is a personal trainer. And, an accomplished road cyclist. I asked him if he thought I could continue to improve. Asked him how to get stronger. I asked, “Son, if I were to do just 3 strengthening exercises to improve my cycling power and endurance, what would you recommend?”. Without hesitation, he said “single-leg squats, dead lifts and hamstring curls!”.

The squats develop the quads and buttocks. The dead lift the lower back and hamstrings. And, the curls focus on the hamstrings. These are the key muscles used when pedalling.

So, in addition to my “coach-on-the-wrist” workouts, I have introduced these exercises into my weekly routine. Even without weight, they were difficult in the beginning, particularly the squats.

I do the dead lifts with an empty bar at the moment just to ensure I have the right technique but am ready to add weight. I do the squats without weight as well. Just my weight. Already I notice a difference. I can do more repetitions, more easily and with good form. More importantly, I notice a difference cycling. Stronger for sure. But I am spinning more in circles. At first, I thought I was simply concentrating on circles more. But no. I am spinning with better form as well.

I have only been doing these additional exercises for a few weeks but already notice a difference. So, if you want to become a stronger cyclist this season, take my son’s advice.

Single-leg squats. Dead lifts. And, hamstring curls.

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