Top rider and coach Matteo Cigala’s 9 tips to be a better cyclist

Posted on: January 10th, 2019

Leading coach Matteo Cigala has executed a successful world hour record bid. He’s also a top bike rider on the Irish scene. Here he outlines his practical tips for all of us (Photo by Sharon McFarland)


9 habits that will make you a better cyclist


By Matteo Cigala


This is the first step and key to cycling success.  If you want to become a better cyclist, consistency is essential. There are no secret formulas.

Consistency in your training, lifestyle, nutrition and sleep through a week is essential.

This must be extended to consistency through a month and through years to enable your body build a foundation and to adapt to the added workloads of duration and intensity.


Stick with your training program

We all have limited time to train due to work and family commitments. Therefore it’s important that we maximise this precious time.

Your training plan should be realistic; based on your life and training availability. If the plan is made to suit your training time, it is essential that you stick with it.

If, for some reason, you have to miss a session; note the key sessions of the week and focus on getting at least those completed.


Recover and sleep

Resting and recovery are critical components of any successful training program. Train to sleep, as sleeping is the best recovery.

It is important to focus on getting 7-8 hrs of good quality sleep. You can do that by:

  • Maintaining a consistent daily schedule
  • Reducing your daily caffeine intake
  • Turning off computer and devices before going to bed
  • Avoid going to bed with a full stomach
  • Limiting beverages consumptions before going to bed
  • Keeping your bedroom dark and quiet
  • Investing in a comfortable mattress, pillow and bedding
  • Going to sleep and waking up using your internal alarm clock


Balanced nutrition

Without the right fuel, your body simply can’t perform. It is therefore important that each meal must have a proper amount of all the main nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

Carbs must prevail (50-60 per cent of the total calories intake) over proteins and fats (20-25 per cent of the total calories, each).

Remember that after hard sessions it is good to increase the quality of proteins and before races the quality of carbs.

Straight after each training session have your protein shake ready to speed up your recovery and fitness adaptations as well as carbs to help protein absorption.

Maintaining a good nutritional status is also essential in avoiding sickness and improving our immune response.


Stay hydrated

Do more water breaks, rather than coffee breaks. Water is a crucial element both in training and recovery.

It “lubricates” our muscle fibres and joints and maintains a proper body temperature. Make sure that every day you drink at least 2 litres of water.

Drink 500 ml of liquids before a training session or race to give your body the necessary time to absorb the water and release the excess fluids.


Have a plan for your race

You should prepare a race or sportive strategy; whatever your goals.

It is important to talk with your coach. They can deliver a good strategy and can give you the confidence and motivation you need.


Review your races or sportives

In order to keep improving your event strategy it is important to review what went wrong and what went well by analysing your race.

And it’s absolutely essential to include your coach in this; the person who knows you best as an athlete.


Stretching and core exercises

One of the best ways to manage training fatigue is to follow a regular cycling stretching routine.

Continuous cycling over time can lead to a loss of elasticity and flexibility. Stretching can help overcome these problems.

Core work must also be a fundamental routine. You can have all the strength in the world, but without a stable and strong core you won’t be able to use it efficiently.

Core work encourages stability and eliminates unnecessary upper-body movements. It means all the power you produce is delivered into your pedal stroke.


Stay focused and enjoy

Riding your bike is supposed to be fun and not an obligation. Don’t make a mental milestone of having to go training.

Remember that the reason you ride is for the love of cycling. Results will come naturally without being obsessive.

Let your coach worry about all of the numbers.Your focus should be on consistency, following your plan and having fun.