Six of the Best Programme

The difference between success and failure in many cases is down to the small details. You could go out and do all the training your coach asks you but if you are not looking after yourself off the bike, then your body will not adapt to the training fully. In fact if you start to over do it and not looking after yourself off the bike then you may well burn out, not wanting to ride and perform badly on the bike. The following six points will help you to look after yourself off the bike. While not telling you to lead your life in any particular, if you build the following points into your life style you will be healthier and will perform better on the bike.

The plan came about after Dan’s personal training clients asking the same questions and Dan created 6 easy to remember points to check them selves against. You will not be able to follow all the points all of the time as life will get in the way, so do your best. If you have any questions about your lifestyle and how to get the best out of your particular situations talk to Dan and we will give you some advice.

In general aim to:

  • Think of Dan as a support system for you to talk through any problem with fitting into your lifestyle the training and good health principles laid out here.
  • Eat a varied diet, taking in as many different foods as possible.
  • Ideally record your food/drink intake and exercise in a diary. Each weekend look at the past week and see what you can improve on in the coming week.
  • Be aware that this is along term programme for you to be able to use for the rest of your life, you may not be able to build in all the points to start off with.
  • Weigh yourself at least once a week at the same time and state, e.g. just out of bed after the loo and before you eat or drink anything


Food plays the key role in your performance on the bike. If you eat a healthy varied diet on the bike you will be able to perform at your best, eat poor and you will be more likely to get dropped and burn out.

  • There are not any restricted foods, you can eat anything you like but aim to reduce foods that are processed and high in sugar and fat. If you have more of these highly processed foods you will not be giving your body all the nutrients it needs for your body to stay healthy.
  • Increase your intake of linseed, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds to one dessert spoon each a day. These will give you a good number of healthy oils your body needs. Add them to breakfasts and snack on them during the day.
  • Reduce most foods that contain fat to less than 10g in every 100g, especially saturated fats. Every cell in your body needs fat but too much and you will place your body at risk later on in life of heart disease.
  • Ensure that you’re having carbohydrates and protein at each meal. This is key, particularly for athletes as you need to restock your muscles and liver with carbohydrates. Protein is key for rebuilding muscle after exercise and keeping your immune system strong.
  • Eat more on riding days less on non training days. On MOST non riding days you should be aiming to consume slightly less in volume and calories than on riding days. If you have trained hard the day before a rest day you may need to catch up with an increased intake of food on a day off. You could become more specific with aiming to match the amount of energy you are using with the amount of food you are consuming for optimal performance.
  • Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables in your day. This will give you some great calories and lots of vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system strong.
  • You should be snacking on foods throughout the day to maintain a constant intake of calories. Athletes do not normally take in enough calories during their day and will often under perform due to it. So EAT LOTS OF FOOD ESPECIALLY CARBOHYDRATES.
  • Try to only eat foods with Glucose and/or glucose-fructose syrup in after exercise. If a protein/carbohydrate recovery drink is not available.
  • Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day and lots of garlic!
  • Take a vitamin tablet, B vitamin tablet and Echinacea (take Echinacea only when you have a cold)
Carbohydrate rich foods
Sports and juices drinksPasta and Noodles
BreadsFruit bars and some sweets
Breakfast cerealsPopcorn
MilkFruit and Fruit Products
Rice puddingBeans
Meal replacement drinks 

Protein rich foods and protein complete combinations
Meat, offal & meat productsPulses e.g. lentils, beans of all types, peas
Fish and fish productsNuts and seeds
Dairy products: e.g. butter, cheese, yogurt, milk and fromage fraisBread, rice, cereals, potatoes, pasta
Baked beans on toastLegumes and grains
Sesame seed breadGrain and seeds
MuesliGrains, nuts and seeds
Cheese pastaDairy products and grains
Rice puddingDairy products and grains
Peanut butter sandwichGrain and nuts
Lentil curry and riceLegumes and grains


Exercise in the correct duration, frequency and intensity will enable you to progress towards your peak performance.

  • You should be following your training plan as much as possible as it is designed to stress and then allow your body to recover correctly. Too much training and you will over train too little and you will not get to your full potential. If you only do one form of training it should be your time on the bike per week. But build in the following if you can.
  • You should be stretching after each training session and having a couple of specific stretching sessions built into your week somewhere. This will allow you to remain supple and help you reduce the risk of you having the ‘old cyclist stoop’ later in life.
  • The stomach and back is a weak spot particularly for cyclists. When a rider has a strong stomach and back (otherwise known as your ‘core’) they will be able to control the power they are producing better and direct it to the pedals with better efficiency. Making you faster.
  • Resistance training, you should be building into your winter training plan weights and to strengthen your legs, back and upper body. Most of the training session should be aimed towards your core and legs. During the competition season you should be heading into the gym once a week to maintain your upper and core strength.


Staying hydrated is key to attaining your best performance on the bike. If you reduce your levels of water in your body by 2% your performance on the bike can go down by up to 20%! So ensure you drink enough water or liquid.

  • You need to drink a certain amount of water per day. This can be calculated by the formula. Litres of water intake = body weight in kg x 0.033
  • When training you need to drink more! ON THE BIKE you should be drinking a large bottle (750ml) of carbohydrate drink every 90 minutes in normal weather and a large bottle every 60 minutes in very hot weather. In very hot weather you will also need to modify the amount of carbohydrates to water in the bottle. Lowering the amount of carbohydrates and increasing the amount of ‘salts’ (you can buy the salts from PETE at INGEAR).
  • After each training session you should have a recovery drink as instructed on the back of the container. The recovery drink will help you to restore your carbohydrates and protein needs so you are ready to train again the next day.
  • Ideally eliminate all coffee and ‘normal’ teas out of your diet. Replace this with water, herb teas, green tea, smoothies, and squashes. This will help your body to ‘run’ better as the caffeine in the tea and coffee will cause your body ‘extra’ stress.

Times of eating

Ensuring you have regular meals will help your concentration, immunity, energy levels, performance on the bike and recovery. If you skip meals you will be placing your health at risk in the long run. Ensure you have enough food or access to food where ever you are. This may mean taking lots of food with you when travelling to and from school, university, work and races.

  • Never miss a meal; you will be putting yourself at risk of over training.
  • Have three main meals in the day at these set times,
    • Breakfast 7am to 9 am
    • Lunch noon to 2pm
    • Dinner 5pm to 7:30 pm
  • Have snacks in between your meals


We all have an optimum amount of sleep we require to stay healthy, whether we get it is another matter. When you are asleep your body will be recovering. The amount of sleep you get per night will affect your recovery from training, racing and normal life stress. You should be aiming to get as much sleep as your body needs. It is thought that for every hour of training you complete a day you require an extra hours sleep that night above your normal amount. If you are not able to get enough sleep it can lead you into over training and burnout. I suggest you follow the following points.

  • Have as much sleep as your body needs. If this is 9 hours aim to get it every night.
  • You should be stretching after each training session and having a couple of specific stretching sessions built into your week somewhere. This will allow you to remain supple and help you reduce the risk of you having the ‘old cyclist stoop’ later in life.
  • Have a set time for going to bed e.g. 10:30pm. Having a set time for going to sleep will help your bodies day and night cycles. If you are extra tired then go to bed earlier.
  • Have a set time for waking up, ideally before the alarm clock goes off. Waking naturally before the alarm is best. If you need to get up early then you should go to bed earlier so you get the ‘usual’ amount of sleep.
  • If you need to sleep during the day, have a nap. Taking cat naps will help you to top up the amount of sleep you receive during the night. They should not be seen as substitute though.
  • Stop drinking fluids in the last 2 hours before you go to bed. As this will allow you to sleep through the night without waking too often for the toilet. If you need to recover particularly you could take a recovery drink to bed with you to sip over night.


Alcohol should not be in the athletes’ regular diet. If you drink alcohol regularly you will not be training or racing to your maximum. Alcohol will negatively affect all of the other 5 points of the plan. It is best to adhere to the following points.

  • Eliminate alcohol out of your diet
  • Or if you cant do that have two glasses a week maximum


Remember that as an athlete you should be focusing on your lifestyle to attain your optimum performance on the bike. Aim to build in the discussed recommendations into your lifestyle, follow the on the bike eating using the additional before, during and after training and racing sheet.

  • Eliminate alcohol out of your diet
  • Or if you cant do that have two glasses a week maximum

Race Nutrition

Eating the right foods before, during and after your race or ride will allow you to perform and recover better from a race or training session. Eating and drinking well will reduce the possibility of you over-training, burning out and getting a cold. You should be thinking about what you are eating and drinking at three different times. These are before the event, during the event and after the event.

You should ensure that you follow these simple guidelines.

Before the event,

Before the event the goal is to stock up on water and carbohydrate so you do not go into the event thirsty and lacking in energy.

Drinks, ensure you have had lots of water but not so close to the event you need to go to the toilet during the race/ride. Good choices are water, juices, smoothies, and carbohydrate drinks. Aim to steer clear of fizzy drink, teas and coffees as these can make you burp and lose water from your body. Remember in hot humid weather drinking before you race is even more important.

Food, aim to eat well before the event, this should be a set of meals made up of carbohydrate rich low fat foods. This could be pasta, rice, breads, potatoes, cereals, carbohydrate drinks, sports bars, and fruit. The longer the race the more of these foods you should be eating. DO NOT EAT A LARGE MEAL WITHIN 2 HOURS OF STARTING A RACE. HAVE A SMALL ONE INSTEAD.

During the event.

During the event you should be eating and drinking on a regular basis (as long as it’s not a short event of less than an hour). You should be drinking every 10 minutes and eating some food every 30 minutes. To keep topping up your energy levels in the race/ride, if you don’t eat and drink you will slow down more quickly than if you did eat and drink.

Drinks, am to drink a carbohydrate drink every 10 minutes in training and racing. This can be any of the main brands e.g. PSP, High5, TORQ, and you should have a just over a couple of 25g scoops per 750ml bottle. One of these bottles should last you an hour and a half in normal weather. If it’s hot and humid you should be drinking more.

Food, Aim to eat sports bars, sports gels, white bread and jam, white bread and honey, and jelly babies. You will need to practice eating every 30 minutes in training and then in racing. Anyone who says you do

After the event,

After the event you should aim to eat and drink as soon as you get off the bike.

Drinks, you should aim to drink a sports recovery drink. These have an amount of carbohydrate in to refuel your muscles and liver and protein to lower the risk of you getting a cold. You should be having one as soon as you get off the bike and then another later on in the day. If it has been hot and humid you should be drinking more after the race/ride.

Food, after the race/ride you should be eating IMMEDIATELY. Eat foods that have a large amount of carbohydrates in and eat one of these items per hour, cereal bars, 4 medium ripe bananas, 2 apples, cornflakes, 1-1.5L of a sports drink, spaghetti, half a bag of jelly beans, 4 slices of white bread.


When you are traveling eat these foods to keep you topped up, breakfast cereal (plus skimmed milk), cereal bars or granola bars, rice crackers or dry biscuits, spreads such as honey or jam, sports gels, sports drinks.

Dan Bennett

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