The Power Files: Getting Started

Over the coming months I am going to be writing regular articles about my experiences of training with power.  As you may be aware, power based training is the best way to train for bike sports, as it offers you so much data for analysis, as well as real time information about your training so that you can train at correct intensities to illicit the training effect you require for your chosen event or discipline.

The guys over at Saddleback have been kind enough to lend me a Stages Power meter for my road bike, and I will be using it with my own Garmin 520 cycle computer.  The power meter is a left crank arm that has a stain gauge attached to it, and you simply replace the existing crank.  Amusingly the power meter is actually worth more than my actual bike!  It doesn’t actually matter to me though as the road bike is just a tool for training in order to improve my MTB performance, so I just need it to work.  The other piece of kit I will be using is a heart rate strap that works with the Garmin computer.  Finally, all of this data and information is fed into a training website, called Training Peaks (TP).  The TP online training app is a bit like Strava on steroids, without the competition element and corner-cutting.  It gathers all of your info from a training ride or race and presents it in a variety of ways, enabling you to analyse your strengths, weaknesses, progress and fitness.  The possibilities are pretty staggering and also somewhat intimidating at first!

Set Up

Initial setup of the Garmin and the Stages PM were really simple……  Remove the old crank, fit the new one, fit the computer on the bars, pair them together and off you go.  Although I have a lot of experience training with power with my Wattbike, I felt that the best way to get started was with some baseline settings and head off for a spin.  On my return I could upload the data to my TP account and start to look into my ride in more detail.

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The screenshot above is the actual data from my first ride out with the Stages PM fitted.  At first it seems crazy, but with some reading, some patience and lots of experimentation, it soon starts to become more clear.  The main graph shows the whole ride with the different lines showing different metrics; cadence in yellow, elevation shown by the grey shading, heart rate in red, power in pink, speed in green and temperature in blue.  You can also see some summary info about the ride in the right hand column, and if you scroll down it gives you further insight into your ride and how hard it was.  To get to the info that you actually want, you can clean up the graph, removing things like temperature and speed which are unimportant to me.  I can also zoom-in to various sections of the ride to analyse my efforts more closely:

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As you can see, this screenshot is of the main climb from the original ride, including the flat sections immediately before and after.  From this I can see how long this part of the ride took, my power, heart rate and so on.  Although this was just a spin to figure out the new equipment, if it was a training ride with a specific goal related to climbing, I would be able to determine whether this aspect of my ride was successful or not.  Had I ridden within the correct training zone for the climb?

Hopefully you can see appreciate how this sort of information can benefit you in your training.  It is especially valuable for the time-pressed rider who wants to make the best use of their limited training hours, as well as for top level athletes looking for an edge.  Training with power is not cheap, with a Stages crank costing from about £500 and the cost of a GPS being a couple of hundred pounds, but when you weigh up the performance benefits that is can bring, it is actually pretty good value.  That £500 may get you some lighter wheels that may speed you up a bit, but if your fitness sucks then even the lightest carbon hoops won’t save you!

In the next instalment of The Power Files, I will go into the terminology of power based training.  Normalised power, average power, training zones and so on and what they mean to you as a mountain biker.

Stay Strong

Ben

2015 Racing Roundup

The view at the top of Stage 5 was epic.

The view at the top of Stage 5 was epic.

On 19-20th September the last ever UK Gravity Enduro took place in deepest Wales at an awesome spot, called Dyfi.  As always the UKGE crew put on an awesome event with a good variety of demanding tracks all spread across some of the most picturesque scenery that I have seen all year.

This season has gone really well for me, steadily getting better results and reaching my goal of getting a top 25 finish in masters.  At Dyfi I felt like I was riding really well.  I was relaxed and confident on the bike and just focussed on enjoying myself on all of the stages resulting in me finishing with a personal best 21st place in a very competitive field of riders.

Below are a list of considerations, thoughts and lessons from my 2015 season.  They are in no particular order, but many of you may benefit from my experiences this year.

1.  Invest in yourself before your bike.  The main reason that I am getting better results this year is not a fancy set of wheels or the latest carbon bling.  It is because I invested time, effort and money in my self improvement as a rider.  I obviously trained (I train people for a living!) but I also had skills coaching all winter from my mate Sam at Pedal Progression in Bristol.  This is the one thing that made the biggest difference to my riding.  If you think you are too good or too fast for coaching then you are wrong. Got a few grand to splash on a new bike so you can ride faster and harder?  Cool!  Just buy the model down from the one you planned to get and spend the difference on skills coaching and/or strength coaching.

2.  Food preparation.  Every race I went to, I prepared most of my meals before I left.  This meant that I had control over what I ate and I was never reliant on pub grub or the contents of the local Tesco Express.  I felt properly fed at all races at all times with steady energy throughout the day, and no bonking incidents! My prep went something like this…..

Pre boil loads of new potatoes that I can fry up with my eggs and bacon for brekky.

Cook a load of sweet potato wedges to have with dinner on Sat night and sometimes Sat lunch too.

Plenty of bananas, berries, flapjack and Nakd bars for snacking in general.

Take a chilli, bolognese or stew in tupperware and reheat it on the Friday night with some rice.  This is super important as on the Fri you are usually knackered from traveling and practice and can’t be arsed to cook.

Cold meat, cheese and sometimes soup for Sat lunch.

Meat for BBQ on Sat night.

Torq energy bars, powder and Recovery.

3.  Stage conditioning. There are two parts to preparing for the demands of enduro race stages.  The first is preparing your whole body and its energy systems to cope with the pumping, stabilising, twisting and general body language needed to navigate technical and often steep trails.  This comes from riding those sorts of trails at a race pace in your training before an event.  It can also be developed through a proper strength and conditioning programme combined with a flexibility and mobility programme.

The second aspect is to prepare for the hard pedalling efforts required on longer stages, both seated and standing.  These tend to be in the region of 30-90 seconds in the UK.  You must replicate this in training.  It is as much about the physical conditioning as the mental conditioning to push your boundaries and suffer.

4.  Look after your goggles!  If you can’t see because they are dirty and steamed up with scratched lenses then you can’t ride fast.  The same goes for glasses.  It is the small details that make the difference.  A ziplock bag with some tissues in your pocket is usually a good bet.

5.  Real food is ok too.  The enduro format means that between stages you are usually riding at a lower intensity meaning that you can eat real food and don’t have to rely purely on sports nutrition products.  I personally like a mixture of Torq Mango energy bars and a couple of flapjacks throughout the day.  Sometimes I will also have a choccy bar.  Do not underestimate the importance of good morale when racing – a nice treat when it is pissing down can really pick you up!

6.  Get weight off your back when you can.  If you have space for a bottle cage then use one.  It you can get your spare tube and tools on your frame then do it.

7. Prepare for 2-3 consecutive days in the saddle.  There is no escaping the fact that riding 2-3 days of 40km and 1500m of climbing is going to be hard work, especially when you consider that you may be pushing up and sectioning parts of the track in practice.  There is no substitute for time in the saddle in your training plan.  Getting to the top of the stages feeling fresh is a massive advantage.

8.  Take care of your body.  I get to meet loads of people at these races and so many are carrying little injuries or niggles.  Sometimes this can’t be helped, it is just part of racing, but sometimes it is because they ignore pain or discomfort.  You need to pay attention to your body and when it isn’t quite working correctly you need to find out what is going on and why.  You then need to fix it.  For many people a flexibility and mobility regime would make a massive difference, but physio or massage may also be a worthwhile investment.

9.  Stage 1 preparation.  For many people, myself included, stage one of the event on the Sunday morning is really hard to ride well.  Many riders let their overall position drop due to a lacklustre performance on the first stage because they are still half asleep and not in race mode.  Develop a warm up for your body and brain that will let you perform at your best.

10.  Don’t force it.  If you aren’t riding your best or don’t feel 100% then pushing harder and getting agro usually leads to more mistakes and crashes.  Nobody can feel totally pinned every time they ride or race.  When it happens, just relax, think about having fun on your bike rather than racing and it will usually start to fall into place.

Finally I just wanted to say a massive ‘Thanks’ to Steve Parr and the whole UKGE team.  Over the last 2 years I have loved all of the races that they put on.  Steve let me be a small sponsor in 2014 for FREE as I was a new business and he wanted to help.  As he put it, ‘I’m in it for the riding, not the money!’  That sums it all up nicely I think.  To all the keyboard warriors on late night forums who gave him such a hard time, sometimes getting very personal, criticising every thing that he did, I hope that you get a lifetime of punctures and horrible chaffing on your arse every time that you ride.  You ran him into the ground and are the reason that he has packed it all in.  Rant over!

What have you learnt about yourself and about racing this season?  It can be any type of racing from marathons to DH and 4X.  Do you agree with my points, or do you have something to add?  I would love to hear your thoughts over on the MTB Strength Factory Facebook page.

Stay Strong

Ben

We are moving gyms!

As of yesterday (1st July) I have moved into a new gym to train all of my riders.  It is a lot bigger with plenty of kit and heavy stuff to pick up and throw around. It also has loads of space to move around which is really important to me and the way I train people.

The other benefit of moving gyms is that I can now take on a few more riders for coaching and may even run a class or two over the winter to compliment my MTB training workshops that will also run over the winter.

If you want to come and visit me for a chat about MTB training and check out the gym then get in touch by emailing ben@mtbstrengthfactory.com.  For now though, check out this little video tour I did!

Address: 13 Brookgate
South Liberty Lane
Ashton, Bristol, BS3 2UN

Stay Strong

Ben

Scotland – Enduro World Series and World Cup

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I have just spent the last 2 weeks up in Scotland, racing the Enduro World Series and then going to watch the World Cup in Fort William.  Despite the fact that it rained EVERY DAY, it was a great trip with awesome riding and racing and lots of fun times with my riding buddies and my wife.  Here is what I got up to and my training-related thoughts about the 2 events and some other random stuff too…….

Home for the EWS!

Home for the EWS!

The EWS at Peebles in the Scottish Borders is known for being one of the most technical, steep and slippery tracks on the EWS circuit and this year was no change.  The constant rain meant that the steep and root infested stages around Innerleithen were super slippy and getting a clean run would be very difficult.  Practicing all day Wed and Thurs and resting on Friday, I felt fit and strong on the bike although not quite at race pace as I had only had the bike for a couple of weeks.  I found my riding to be quite inconsistent and found it hard to get a rhythm in practice.  Some parts went really well and I rode right at my limit and at other times I was making silly mistakes, including a pretty big crash at the bottom of stage 7 at Glentress that left me with a pretty multicoloured thigh for the next 10 days!  I think that the main issue for me was getting in the right frame of mind.  Maybe the scale of the event and the quality of competition got to me a bit, but I found it hard to relax and ride my best.  I need to have a think about this and work on improving it in the future.

The inconsistent theme continued on the Saturday with some sections going really well, even catching the rider in front and other sections of the course feeling like I was a toddler without stabilisers for the first time!  By the end of day 1 of racing at Innerleithen I was feeling very second hand, having had quite a big run in with a tree, leaving my shoulder very stiff and sore, and with a stiff wrist and finger from punching a tree in the tight sections.  I was sitting about 200th out of 269 in E1 category and that would have put me in 12th in E2 category out of about 100 riders riding the same course.  I was hoping for better results from day 1 and felt a bit frustrated.  The main thing that I took away from day 1 is that I am just not used to riding and racing such long downhills of 5 minutes or more.  I need to improve my race conditioning by doing two things:  1- Increase the length of my conditioning sessions in the gym ton reflect longer stage times.  2- Actually ride some bigger hills and tracks and do them in one go rather than in sections with a chat to my mates half way down.

Waking up on Sunday morning I knew that I would not be able to race properly.  I could not lift my right arm past shoulder height and my wrist felt pretty weak too so I decided to withdraw which is a bit of a bummer.  For me, as an amateur racing for fun, it is just not worth it, especially being mid-30’s and self employed!  The silver lining was that I got to watch the pro’s come down the final stage into Peebles and that was awesome!  They are at another level and it was inspiring to see them riding so fast on such tricky tracks.  Maybe I will do another EWS next year?!

The week leading up to the World Cup, my wife and I had planned to ride loads, but it did not stop raining the whole time so we only got out once.  Fortunately it was an awesome ride at a little trail centre called Laggan Wolftrax.  This place is really unique in that it is mostly on really grippy (even when wet) rock.  I have never ridden anywhere like it and even if you don’t normally ride trail centres, I would urge you to check it out.  It has some cool features including a massive North Shore style rock roll which was loads of fun and is something I have never seen in this country before.  The cafe is also pretty decent!

You probably don’t really need me to talk much about the World Cup as the MTB social media and web world has been flooded with content, so here are some thoughts about seeing it first hand and the physical considerations for racing DH at a high level.

Every rider who did well was f**ked at the bottom.  No matter how fit they were, they all gave 100% to the final sprint and motorway section.  The lesson here is about mental toughness and determination.  If you want to do well you need to give it all, and push through when the legs and lungs are screaming for you to stop.  This can and should be developed in training, both on the bike and in the gym.

The best riders raced smart and conserved energy on the windy top sections of the moor so that they would have more power available to sprint hard and clear the massive jumps on the motorway section.

The top section is rougher than it looks on TV!  You need to be smooth, relaxed and on the right lines with good upper body strength to move the bike around and pump for speed.

For such a long, sustained track where you may only sit for a few seconds during the whole 5 minutes, core strength and endurance is critical to enable you to maintain a good riding position, absorb hits and put down power when you need to.

Manon’s crash was pretty huge and could have been a lot worse.  As well as her helmet and body armour protecting her from injury, the fact that she is a high level athlete certainly helped too.  Muscle is like armour, protecting the skeleton and organs from injury and impact.  I would also bet that she does regular neck training as part of her strength programme and this will help her to bounce back from big crashes as well as protecting her at the time of the crash.

DH MTB World Cup

DH MTB World Cup

The atmosphere in the finishing arena at For Bill is amazing!  Get it on your MTB bucket list if you have not been already.

I am now back to the gym and back to work.  3 Weeks until UKGE round 2 in Grizedale and the trails back home are dry and dusty.  Happy Days…

Stay Strong

Ben

 

Mini Enduro – Forest of Dean

Landing the drop on Stage 1

Landing the drop on Stage 1

Hot, dry, loose, dusty, rooty and loads of fun, nicely summarises the Mini Enduro this weekend at The Forest of Dean.  It was a sell out event as usual for these relaxed and friendly events with un marshalled practice on the Saturday and then racing on the Sunday.  The 4 stages provided a number of different challenges that would test the riders’ skills, fitness and line choice with wide-open taping and some pretty cheeky lines appearing over the weekend!

For me, this race was my first of the season and I wanted to treat it as a warm up for the UK Gravity Enduro season, starting in May, so although I wanted to do well, it was mostly about confirming where I am at and getting my setup dialled in.  When I was planning my season, this was a lower priority race, meaning that I trained all week as normal and was prepared to sacrifice aspects of this race in order to prepare for UKGE.  For instance, although not mandatory, I chose to wear my Bell Super 2R full face helmet this weekend as that is what I will be required to wear at the UKGE races all summer.  It was hot, sweaty and I would have preferred to wear a trail lid, but I wanted to get a feel for the best way to race with this helmet and practice detaching the chin guard etc.

Spicy on test for Wideopenmag

My race-ready Lapierre Spicy on test for Wideopenmag.

Early season races can be valuable tools for reviewing your current level of fitness and conditioning, so I have spent some time this morning reviewing my performance and seeing if there is anything that I can address in my training programme over the coming weeks.  I purposely did a lot of riding on the Friday (at my local trails) and on the Saturday, practicing at FOD in order to simulate the sort of mileage I may be covering at the UKGE races.  I found that my all-day endurance and ability to ride hard on consecutive days was absolutely fine and I went into the final stage feeling pretty fresh.  A big part of this was down to getting my nutrition right before during and after riding each day.

I felt strong on the bike all day and my conditioning over 2-3 minutes for the stages was pretty good.  I think I could still do more work on my anaerobic engine for hard and prolonged sprints between sections or up short climbs.  Having said that, you can always be a bit fitter in that respect and improving your anaerobic endurance is an almost constant aspect of MTB race training across many disciplines. Either way, I will be getting on the pain-train over the coming weeks in order to improve this aspect of my racing.

Overall I had a great weekend with my best result ever, 16th out of about 120 in Masters.  I missed a couple of my lines and made some small mistakes, so plenty to work on skills and concentration wise, but I am really happy with my performance and can’t wait for Triscombe in a couple of weeks!

Stay Strong

Ben

Great Feedback on the Bodyweight Strength Programme

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I got a great email out of the blue yesterday from John F, pictured riding in Les 2 Alpes, who bought a copy of the Bodyweight Strength Programme earlier this year.  Check out what he had to say…..

Really been enjoying (?!) the workouts Ben.
Documenting them has been massively helpful in seeing my progression and motivates me when I need it. I’m onto my 5th week now after redoing my consolidation week 4 as I picked up a flu bug and was floored for a week.
Pull ups were never my strong point but now I am able to knock out a decent set of reps of good quality. I am also finding that with the finisher that I am able to maintain or even increase my reps during the 20secs as I go.
I live in the Highlands of Scotland and the snow has had a detrimental effect on how much I have been able to get out on the bike so having a session in the gym is keeping me going.
My snowboarding is coming on too! Lol.
Anyway, thanks for the tips and the motivational emails.

If you want a simple, effective and proven programme that you can do anywhere, then check out the Bodyweight Strength Programme for only £18 and covered by my money back guarantee.

Bodyweight Strength Programme

Bodyweight Strength Programme

Stay Strong

Ben

First MTB Strength Factory Race Win!

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I am really stoked to announce that the first MTB Strength Factory trained athlete to win a race is Mart Astley who won the Forest of Dean Night Enduro last weekend.  He totally smoked the whole field on a tough and pedally course and got fasted time of the day, beating the pro category riders as well as winning Masters.  Happy Days!!

I won’t lie to you – Mart was already pretty damn quick and fit when he came to me, however since working together his fitness is really improving and he is going to be at the sharp end at a few UKGE’s this summer as well as Epic Cymru and a few other races. This is what he had to say about our training:

“I started working with Ben back in November.  I’m a busy boy and don’t have a huge amount of time to train so I wanted to use what time I have efficiently.  Ben has created me a programme that works well with a busy schedule and means I’m using my time effectively.  Best of all, I actually look forward to the sessions which is something I have never done before….well maybe with the exception of nasty interval sessions!  It’s early days still but indications show I’m heading in the right direction, I’m definitely feeling stronger on the bike!”

Well done Mart and let’s hope this is the first of many podiums for MTB Strength Factory trained athletes this summer.

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Changing Things Up In The Gym

 

Joe's Programme

Things can get stale in the gym pretty quickly unless you change things up from time to time.

That’s why last night I ran my rider Joe Finney’s session a bit differently to normal.  We were a little short on time, and Joe was a bit tired and sore from riding Moto on the weekend, so rather than going through a really structured session I decided to put the session into Joe’s hands to see how he got on.

I prescribed what I wanted to achieve in the session and wrote it on the chalk board and the rest was down to Joe, selecting what he wanted to do and when and also selecting what weights to lift for the deadlift in order to reach his 2000kg target for the session.  If the session only took 20 minutes then that would be it – all finished for the night and job done!  It was simply about getting a prescribed amount of work done on his terms.  Here was the plan in case you can’t read my writing on the picture!

Deadlift 2000kg

Goblet Squat @20kg x 50

Press Up x 60

Get Up x 30

Mountain Climber x 100

Fat Bar Chins x 20

KB Swing @32kg x 40

This workload is within Joe’s capabilities and is neither easy or super hard for him.  It will have a beneficial conditioning effect as well as the strength and power gains from the big lifts, due to the non-stop nature of the session.  It took about 25 minutes of steady graft in the end.

The key message I think is that there are so many ways to get stronger, fitter and in shape for any goal.  The key is to vary the training stimulus so that the body and mind do not adapt and are always kept guessing.  Whichever path you take, you should be committed and you should believe in the programme and your ability to succeed.  By doing this I gave Joe ownership and responsibility for his own training and self-development and this is a powerful tool for a coach to wield with his athletes.  Tomorrow night we will be doing something completely different in terms of stimulus, format and outcomes.  That is how you grow physically and mentally as an athlete and rider.

Stay Strong

Ben

 

Fat Loss

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Mountain Bikers, beer and cake go together like Charlie Sheen, hookers and coke, however too many beers and cream buns and it won’t be long before you start bulging out of your shorts and sweating like a sex offender on the uplift bus.  Excess weight is not your friend on the bike, especially if you happen to be the type of rider who wears a lot of lycra.

Saving weight on your bike has been at the centre of many a marketing campaign for all the mainstream companies, and continues to this day, including in the world of gravity oriented racing as well as XC.  To save 500 grams from your bike it would cost you literally £100’s probably, and whilst when your mate lifts your bike up in the car-park they will be impressed by the svelte and slender weight of your whip, if you are still fat and out of shape you will still get dropped on the climbs anyway.  It fascinates me that you can go into a shop and spend £50 on a bottle cage to save 3 grams on your bike, but so many riders don’t consider spending on skills or strength coaching that will actually make you faster.  Next time you are going to buy a £4000 carbon bike, drop down to the aluminium one, and save a grand.  Then give me £500 to get you strong, flexible and fit and £500 to a good coach (like Pedal Progression) for a long term series of sessions to give you the skills to pay the bills.  You will be faster and leaner and you will have more fun.

Anyway – how to lose the fat…….

At the heart of this is your diet.  This is more important than anything else here as it holds the key to your long term health and longevity.

FACT:  There is no such thing as a healthy fat person.

FACT:  You cannot build performance without health.

Your diet should be as natural as possible, based around vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, poultry, some nuts and seeds and a few other bits and bobs like eggs.  You will need to learn to cook.  You will need to plan meals and prepare packed lunches.  If you are fat then trust me – you don’t need an energy drink to get you around the Blade at Afan.  Water will do just fine and you should drink plenty of it and always filtered as tap water is full of oestrogen, chlorine and all sorts of other stuff we don’t want or need.  Keep it simple and cook from scratch.  Avoid sugar like the plague and eat as many greens as you can fit on your plate.  For a more in depth guide to how to approach nutrition as a rider, check out my Nutrition Guide for only £9.

Assuming your diet is OK, there are a number of training approaches that you can use to help shed the weight.  Rather than prescribing exact workouts, I want to give you an understanding so that you can apply them yourself.  I want to introduce the idea of being in-efficient in order to promote fat-loss…..

If you are a mountain biker then you probably ride bikes all the time, and are therefore rather efficient at it.  Riding further or longer may help, or it may just lead to you getting fatter (trust me on this one!).  You could do some intervals as they are pretty effective, however as you are so well adapted to riding your bike, you are actually quite efficient, making it hard to really burn the fat.

A great option is to start strength training.  This will benefit you as a rider as well as being very effective for fat loss.  Quiet simply, build muscle to burn fat!  If the general population starting using strength training instead of fashionable ‘cardio’ bullshit then they might actually lose some fat when combined with decent nutrition.  FYI: I used to run a very successful London bootcamp based around strength training and intervals to get people to lose fat.

Now, outside if the gym let’s think about a different type of strength training; taking a 30kg sandbag and lifting it up, carrying it 20 metres, putting it down and repeating on the other shoulder.  Unless you are a builder, I would suggest that you are not well adapted to this type of training and therefore it is really in-efficient for you to do.  Doing this for 3 minutes, 5 times would be a pretty awesome fat burning session as well as great training for your core and back.

You basically need to give your body a new shock or training stress that it is not adapted to so that you are in-efficient in the way you carry out the task.  Movements should be whole-body and your heart rate should get pretty high.  Keep durations quite short; 2-5 minutes and recover in between.  Simple drills like get-ups are great for this and can be done anywhere and any time.  Simply stand on the spot, then get down and lay on your front with arms extended, then stand up and repeat onto your back.  Try that for 2 minutes flat out and see how hard it is!  Just remember to warm up first.

On the bike training for fat loss is also possible, especially for those of you who don’t ride much over the dark and wet winter months  and are therefore less adapted to riding all the time.  Doing hill reps, sprints and time trials can all help you to get your fat burning going as long as you are eating right and taking the time to recover properly.  The key is to do something that you are not used to.  Do you do a weekly interval session and still need to lose fat?  If so, then you need to change it up or do something off of the bike instead.  You may want to try doing some fasted riding first thing in the morning before brekky.  It is effective for many people, just watch out for the dreaded bonk and if you do too much then you may start burning up hard-earned muscle and losing power as you lose the fat.

The final part of the puzzle is your wider life.  Stress, sleep, emotions, trauma, work and so on.  Health comes from being happy, content and on top of your stress.  You should sleep at least 7 hours per night and do everything you can to insulate yourself from the stress of modern life that catches so many people out.  Stress is one of the biggest killers in the western world and is disastrous for your health.  If you are chronically stressed then you need to take action, seek help from friends, family or a professional (talking is always better than drugs in my opinion) and make it a priority to reduce your stress.  You need to be comfortable with who you are, and accepting of the present, no matter how out of shape you may feel.  The past does not matter, you just need to look forwards and make sure that above all else – You Love Yourself & Believe You Can Do It.

Stay Strong – Stay Lean

Ben