LIFESTYLE

Commonwealth Games 2014 Cyclist Joanna Rowsell: My Tips For Becoming A Cycling Superstar

25/07/2014 14:15 BST | Updated 25/07/2014 14:59 BST

The Commonwealth Games 2014 have kicked off with a bang, and watching our sporting heroes and heroines doing their thing in Glasgow has got us in the mood for being active.

Cycling is a great way of improving fitness levels, kick-starting weight loss and reducing stress, but how do you become a pro on two wheels?

Pro cyclist, Olympic gold medallist, Spatone ambassador and all-round inspirational woman Joanna Rowsell MBE gives her handy hints on how to become a cycling superstar.

joanna rowsell

Go for long rides:

If you are looking to build your endurance you should ideally try and do a long ride every week. I’d recommend anything from one hour upwards depending on your fitness levels and gradually increase your distance over time.

Why not try making a long cycle with a friend part of your weekend routine, there are some beautiful cycle routes in the UK.

Try biking intervals:

High intensity interval training is one of the best ways to get fit and especially good if you are limited for time.

Best done on an indoor trainer, try 30s flat out followed by 30s recovery and repeat this 10 times. I guarantee your legs will be burning by the end!

Core training:

Cycling not only uses leg muscles but also require a lot of trunk strength to ensure you are pedalling efficiently and all the power from your legs is going straight down through the pedals and not rocking from side to side.

A strong trunk will also help minimise injury and aches and pains after a long ride on the bike.

There are some core exercises that are easy to do at home such as the plank. Lie chest down on the floor and push yourself on your elbows directly beneath your shoulders and touch your toes under. Hold this position keeping your back straight. Try 20 seconds to begin with and gradually build up to 1 minute.

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Hydrate properly when cycling:

Your fluid requirements increase when you are cycling. If you feel thirsty it’s too late, you’re already dehydrated, so drink little and often.

I usually take a sip every 10 minutes and begin this right from the start of a training ride. An electrolyte sports drink is good particularly in hot weather when you will be sweating a lot.

Fuel properly:

Likewise, regular cycling will increase your energy requirements so you need to ensure that you maintain energy levels.

I eat a big bowl of porridge with blueberries and honey to fuel myself before a bike ride. I also take a sachet of Spatone Sport#, a liquid iron food supplement, every morning to maintain energy levels and oxygen efficiency. The added vitamin C in Spatone Sport can also increase iron absorption to help sufficient dietary intake of iron for active people – so it’s great if you are stepping up your exercise regime.

Get the right bike:

Make sure you go to a specialist bike shop as they will be able to help you find a bike to suit your needs and budget. It sounds obvious, but if you are planning on commuting into the city you will need a different bike to someone who is planning on taking up mountain biking at the weekends.

A specialist bike shop will also make sure that you are set up correctly. Everyone has different leg, arm and torso lengths, so make sure that your saddle height and handlebar reach is correct for you.

Invest in the right equipment:

A cycling helmet is something I never leave the house without and I would recommend everyone has a good quality helmet - make sure it’s the right size and fits snug.

Other important items are bike lights and reflective clothing which will help other vehicles see you on the road especially if you are riding in the evenings or early mornings before its light.

I would also recommend wearing sunglasses which will keep dust, sweat and sunlight out of your eyes.

Cool down properly:

After doing exercise a cool down is very important. I try and cool down by spinning my legs for at least five minutes and then completing a good stretching routine.

Important muscles to stretch are the hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, glutes and quads. When my legs feel tired and heavy after a workout I also massage Nelsons arnicare Arnica Cooling Gel into my limbs to help revive them.