Next month I will be joining Tech Bikers as they cycle from Paris to London to raise money for Room to Read.

Tech Bikers was born from Googleʼs Campus London, a workspace at the heart of East Londonʼs tech city, as a collaboration between Eze Vidra, head of Google Campus, Benjamin Southworth, Deputy CEO at Tech City UK, and Gerry Newton, Campus London resident and Founder of the Cyclr.

If you are not familiar with Room to Read, they are a charity that works in collaboration with communities and local governments across Asia and Africa to develop literacy skills, a habit of reading among primary school children, and support girls to complete secondary school.  I am so excited to be involved, but also a little wary, as this will be my longest cycling trip to date, and I have less than a month to train!

So to kick start my training, I met up with AJ Perera, a Personal Trainer at Fitness First, who gave me the following advice:

When you train for a long distance ride, you’re preparing for an endurance event. You have to set up a training plan and commit to it. The more structured the plan, the easier it will be to follow. Start slowly and go at your own pace. Design a plan around your lifestyle and goals. Your main objective is to work up to riding several, long consecutive days.

Start a training diary that you can review regularly and monitor your progress. After each ride record: time of day, temperature, wind, mileage, average speed, elapsed time, gears used, the type of training (base, interval, climbing etc.), heart rate zones, the course (flat, hilly etc.) and how you felt.

Avoid over training! If you have achy or tired muscles, fatigue, lack of appetite, trouble sleeping, steady weight loss, flulike symptoms, an elevated resting heart rate, are depressed, irritable, lethargic, or your usual training rides feel more difficult, you are over training. It’s time to take some time off for rest and relaxation. If you are sick or just miss a training day, don’t try to make it up. Rest and recovery are important parts of training. Make sure you build rest days into your plan. Once a month, schedule an easy riding week (at least 40% less than the previous week) to give your body and mind a break.

The ability to produce a greater amount of force, to delay fatigue and to control the bicycle are all beneficial when looking to improve cycling performance, and strength training can help all three of these components. Below is a basic strength training program that you can follow in your Fitness First gym that  targets all the muscles in your body.


1.       Complete Lower Body

A combination of either front or rear lunges can be performed using a Smith Machine, or free weights, however always make sure that you perform with a lightweight, enabling your leg muscles to get use to the movement prior to increasing the weight. Aim for 3 sets of 10 – 15 reps each leg, using a light weight, however aim for a full range of movement.


2.       Seated leg extension machine – Quads

Keeping your back firmly into machine, place your feet under the foot pad, about shoulder width apart, just above your ankle level. As you develop your leg strength, aim to work for 3 sets of 10 – 12 reps, followed by 1 – 2 sets of 50% weight, using 1 leg for 4 – 8 reps.


3.       Leg Press Quadriceps

There are a number of foot positions you can use to work the different muscles of your quadriceps, you can have your feet close together – wide or shoulder width apart. Work for 3 sets of 10-12 reps, for first set work with your feet close, then normal and finally wide, with toes pointing outwards.


4.       Hamstring Curl Machine

Use a suitable weight and perform smooth reps. Avoid pushing yourself on this exercise, as most people’s hamstrings will tend to be tight, and can easily be damaged. Aim for 2 – 3 sets of 10 – 12 reps, using a light weight for your first set.


5.       Calf machine

Most modern gyms will have a calf machine, if not that use either a Smith Machine or Barbell across your shoulders. Stand straight with the balls of your feet on the platform, with the shoulder weight cushions comfortably placed on your shoulders, – avoid being bent up, or straining to reach the supports. Lift and lower slowly for 2 – 3 sets of 10 – 12 reps working for a full range.


6.       Cable adductor and abductor pulls, Inner / Outer Thighs

Aim for 2 sets 0f 10 – 12 reps with a suitable weight. Work one leg, then simply turn around to face the other way, in order to work the abductors. Repeat on the other leg. Count the number of reps that you can do, in order to gauge the difference if any in strength in each leg.


7.       Gluts / Hip Flexor Cable Pull

Connect a foot strap around a leg, just above the ankle joint, and attach this to a low cable pulley. Aim to keep your legs and back straight throughout the exercise, to help isolate the gluts, holding a secure object for balance. Work for 3 sets of 15 – 20 reps, on each leg – facing forward (gluts) and rearward (hip flexors).


8.       Adductor Machine

Aim to keep your legs and back in contact with the machine at all times. Some machines will have a combination of settings, allowing the legs to be taken wider, avoid taking your legs out too far, especially for beginners. It may be useful to warm up your muscles with a lightweight prior to your training weight. Aim for 3 sets 0f 15 – 20 reps with a suitable weight.


9.       Plank

Start by lying face down on the ground or use an exercise mat. Place your elbows and forearms underneath your chest. Prop yourself up to form a bridge using your toes and forearms. Maintain a flat back and do not allow your hips to sag towards the ground. Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat the exercise 3 times. If you feel like 30 seconds is too easy please feel free to increase the time that you hold the plank position.


10.   Abdominal Crunches

Aim to perform 3 sets of 20 reps as you feel comfortable with. Keep the movement smooth with your chin off your chest.


11.   Upper Back –

Upright row , aim to perform high reps, for 1 set with a light weight, keeping the elbows high for 2 seconds before lowering. 3 sets of 15-20 reps


12.   Wrist curls

Exercises, concentrate on strengthening your wrist and forearms.  Perform 3 sets of 15-20 reps


13.   Back extension

Avoid coming up to far, aim to perform in a smooth slow motion for 3  set of 15-20 reps .


14.   Lateral pull down – Back

Bring the bar to your front, using a wide, normal and close grip for 10 – 12 reps, 3 set each style.


15.   Bench Press – Chest

Perform this exercise with different hand grips, normal, wide and close arm. Aim for 10 – 12 reps, 3 set each style.