Reading a Reddit thread that was subsequently deleted by the mods, a reader was asking how to get into the top echelon of riders and there were some great tips. I thought I might chime in with my own experience, having spent over two years researching the matter and putting those strategies into the ride.
Keep in mind, I’m not an exercise physiologist and not responsible if you hurt yourself doing any of the tricks I outline below.
I’m a big dude (240 lbs.), so I can do near 450W @ 100 resistance x 50+ cadence for long periods of time while standing. While sitting, closer to 250W @ 50+ resistance 90+ cadence and improving. Usually, if I push myself hard, I’m in the top 1% at the end of the ride. (Or I was before I got the Bike+, but that’s another post). If there are 20,000 riders, I’m usually in the top 200.
Without further adieu
Some things that I’ve used that might help you get PRs or at least help with the FTP (Functional Threshold Power) test:
- Get your favorite music queued up on a speaker in case the instructor plays a dud (Wilpers, looking at you) or starts singing. For me, I take out my headphones and play my song and then check back in after. Unless you are taking a live ride, you can look ahead and see if there’s a garbage Kanye song in the playlist.
- 10-15 min. REAL
warmhot-up where you are getting 150+HR and sweating profusely. You can use one of the Peloton FTP warmups for a guide. For some people, the warmup might not be that long – and some might be longer – but something where you are on your smartphone and not out of breath doesn’t cut it. Peloton’s 5 minute warm up rides don’t cut it either.
- Weird but works for me: Brush your teeth with mint toothpaste beforehand; it opens up your nasal passages and lungs a little better which helps air flow. Also cough drops work, but sugarless so doesn’t make your mouth sticky; again weird but effective for me.
- Coffee is a helluva drug. You know what you have on a normal day? Have a little bit more. You are basically adding a few heartbeats per minute which of course helps get that oxygen to your muscles. Obviously Red Bull or the energy drink of choice works here but those also include 30 other ingredients that do who knows what. Also make sure you are hydrated with electrolytes before you start and have plenty of cold water for the ride.
- Follow instructors when they are pushing you, but really, just go as hard as you can. I’ve watched people at the top of the leaderboard, and no one is following the instructors’ ups and downs. Warmups and cool downs? Lol, no. That’s when you go hardest. Save the warmup and cooldown (still very important!) for another ride before/afterwards.
- There are times of day where I perform better – for me, typically mornings right after a cup of coffee is best performance. After or during work, I’m ~30W down on average. Before Breakfast/coffee? Feels like I am in mud. Your mileage will very. Night people, you know who you are.
- Make sure your bike is fitted right. I started out too low and once I raised myself I was able to add a few watts and felt better doing it. Peloton has a great guide but play around with different heights until you find your sweet spot.
- You. Need. A. Good. Fan. Changes the game. I upgraded to a large Vornado that I place right in front of the wheel, and it really helps cool down the whole body. Colin has a few other reccos. I have it positioned low so it can get wind all the way from head to toe. Like a car, the body needs a good cooling system and will putter out if it overheats, which it should be doing on a hard ride. ALSO: ice water for me, but I know others recommend cool water (just not freezing). Don’t be afraid to dump some on your head. On a 90 minute ride, I’ll have one bottle of ice water, one bottle of tap water and one bottle of NUUN electrolyte water, just make sure you dump the right one on your head.
- Try to pump/psych yourself up before the ride. Listen to inspirational music or get yourself into a competitive mind space. Adrenaline is also a helluva drug. Getting emotional helps performance, that’s why professional athletes are constantly pumping each other up during games/events.
- Take a day off exercise the day before or take a super casual short ride. Two days off isn’t typically helpful; make sure you are rested, but not out of practice. Also sleep well, don’t booze beforehand or be hungover and in a good mind space. A meditation may help here.
- Bonus: Have fun! If you aren’t smiling and inspired, you aren’t doing it right. Peloton instructors are great for making it a great experience. My favs: Kendall, Alex, Dennis, and Matt.
Does it work?
Here’s me. Again, it isn’t really fair to compare people on a per watt basis – there should be watt/kg measurement that evens the playing field for us bigger folks. But overall, some of these tips or cheat codes as I like to call them, may help you eke out a better high score.
Did I miss any? Please fill me in in the comments below.
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