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Have you been training right for your stage of life? A doctor's guide to maximising your cycling potential at every age - CyclingWeekly

Have you been training right for your stage of life? A doctor's guide to maximising your cycling potential at every age - CyclingWeekly

Have you been training right for your stage of life? A doctor's guide to maximising your cycling potential at every age - CyclingWeekly
Dec 02, 2022 2 mins, 10 secs

These vital regulators of the body exist in different types: sex steroid hormones including oestradiol, testosterone; anabolic “body building” hormones such as growth hormone; stress response hormones like cortisol; and hormones like thyroxine that control metabolic rate. .

The main work of hormones during childhood is directed towards growth.

So the key advice for this age of cyclist is to avoid high training loads while the hormone networks settle into adult patterns.

To let your hormones work their full magic, we must return to Hippocrates’s advice: you need to find your personal healthiest balance between training, rest and cycling nutrition.

And don’t forget the importance of sleep for optimal cycling performance – after all, it is when we’re asleep that many of the performance-building hormones, such as growth hormone, are secreted.

When this happens, we have insufficient energy to keep hormone networks working smoothly and the body by necessity switches into energy-saving mode and down-regulates hormones.

Hence, young adult cyclists need to maintain a personalised, periodised approach to all aspects of their schedule: the training itself, as well as the cycling nutrition and recovery that supports it. .

In particular, for both men and women, reducing levels of the anabolic hormones growth hormone and testosterone means that to maintain performance it is important to modify training and nutrition.

Strength training becomes a priority to maintain muscle mass and a favourable body composition.

Combining this with adequate protein intake – at least 1.2g per kilo of bodyweight per day – will mitigate the tendency to lose muscle strength in the face of reducing hormone levels.

Cyclists moving into the older masters cycling ranks, from around age 60, should be aware that anabolic hormones continue to decline

There is good evidence that doing strength training has beneficial effects on body composition, muscle mass and bone strength

One study involving a group of men in their 70s found that resistance training improved their muscle strength to rival that of untrained men aged 25! 

Equally important research on women who strength-train maintain greater bone mineral density and even height compared to women of the same age who do no strength work

If you can, you should keep cycling, as there is increasing evidence that being a Masters athlete stands you in good stead to resist the effects of reduced hormones in old age

Plus, continuing with some form or strength training is very helpful to resist the tendency to lose muscle mass and function

Training and recovery out of whack: Suboptimal hormone function can be caused by imbalances in cyclist behaviours around training, nutrition and recovery

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