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Is There an Ideal Cycling Weight and Body Fat Percentage?

By Jackie Lohrey ; Updated July 18, 2017

Cycling requires proper blood oxygenation as a prerequisite for success. Whether you participate in cycling for fun, exercise or in competitive events, the more oxygen you can deliver to your lungs, the faster, longer and better you will ride. Carrying excess body fat makes it more difficult for you to breathe while under stress, but you must balance the need for a lean body with an equally important need for strong muscles. One way to find this balance is to consider body fat percentage when calculating your ideal cycling weight.


According to Dr. Linda Kennedy, author and natural health care specialist, an ideal cycling weight is one that provides you the highest VO2 max, a measure of the amount of oxygen you consume each minute. A common way to determine this weight is by calculating your body mass index, also called your BMI. Sports Fitness Advisor notes that knowing your ideal cycling weight is not enough, as this weight range does not make a distinction between weight that is due to muscle mass and weight that is due to body fat. Combining an ideal cycling weight with an appropriate body fat percentage ensures that while you are not carrying excess fat, you retain enough for your body to function normally without putting muscle mass at risk.


Body fat percentage is a calculation that tells you what percentage of your total weight is body fat. It considers gender and depends on whether you are a part of the general population, or an athlete. For athletes, body fat percentage ranges then further differentiate depending on the sport in which you participate, such as cycling. According to Sports Fitness Advisor, the ideal range for a cyclist is a body fat percentage between 5 percent to 15 percent for men and between 15 percent to 20 percent for women.


You can determine your body fat percentage at home orlocal gym using a tool called a caliper. Or, ask your sports doctor to perform the calculation. Once you have this number you can use it to calculate your ideal cycling weight. For example, if you are female with a current weight of 160 lbs. and a body fat percentage of 22 percent, your muscle mass weighs 125 lbs and you are carrying 35 lbs. of body fat. To calculate your ideal cycling weight, multiply your muscle mass of 125 by 15 or 20 percent, the appropriate body fat percentage for your gender, and then add it to your muscle mass weight. In this case, your ideal cycling weight will be between 144 and 150 lbs.


Achieving an ideal cycling weight will improve your performance, reduce fatigue and lessen your risk of injury. Dr. Kennedy states that for every 10 lbs. of weight loss, cycling speed increases by one mile per hour.


It is vital that you keep your body fat percentage within the recommended range. Losing too much body fat leaves insufficient essential fat, necessary to protect internal organs and allow your body to function normally. To become lean, yet remain healthy, men need to maintain a body fat percentage above 3 percent and women above 12 percent, according to Sports Fitness Advisor. Anything below this can put your health at serious risk.

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