Cycling is a great way to get fit, burn a few calories and have fun in the great outdoors while getting exercise. If you find your passion with cycling and want to take your pastime to the next level, you might consider competing in races. One key factor here is your body weight, as this can make a huge difference to how well you perform and determine whether you'll be a cycling queen or fall by the wayside.
For female speed demons, sprint cycling is the way to go. When sprinting, strength and power play a bigger role than endurance and stamina, so you need more muscle mass to generate that explosive strength. Your optimal weight depends on your height, but female sprinters between 62 and 65 inches tall should weigh between 105 and 136 pounds, women between 66 and 69 inches tall should weigh between 119 and 153 pounds, and women between 70 and 72 inches should weigh between 134 and 167 pounds, according to cycling coach Kendra Wenzel.
To climb to the top of those hills and above your competition, you need to be lean and wiry. Climbing is all about endurance, and the less body weight you have to carry, the easier time you'll have. Going on Wenzel's guidelines, female climbers between 62 and 65 inches tall should weigh between 99 and 122 pounds, women between 66 and 69 inches tall should weigh between 112 and 138 pounds, and women between 70 and 72 inches should weigh between 125 and 150 pounds.
Variations for Body Type
While you can lose fat or gain muscle to achieve your optimal weight, genetics also play a role in body composition. Most women fall into one of three categories -- ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs -- according to personal trainer and cycling expert Selene Yeager. Ectomorphs are slim and have longer limbs, mesomorphs are more muscular but still lean, while endomorphs are naturally bulkier. As an ectomorph you'd be more suited to climbing, whereas mesomorphs and endomorphs may fare better with sprint or track cycling.
Weight plays a role in how successful you are, but it isn't the most important factor. Aim for the weight at which you feel you perform your best and work with your coach to adjust your weight while maintaining performance. When putting on weight, eat just a little more than usual so you put on muscle rather than fat, and when losing weight, reduce your calories so you drop fat, but eat enough to give you energy for training rides and races.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.