After five years of cycling I had developed, at least somewhat, that classic cyclist body. Legs like tree trunks and an upper body that didn’t exactly impress. Not that it was bad, let’s just say I lacked that classic V-shaped upper body.
I want to be very clear: I am not looking to be a perfectly proportioned, perfect-body human specimen. At 47 years-old, I simply don’t care to put in the effort and give up the pizza. Better, I don’t care if anyone else likes it or even agrees. I spent the first half of my life trying to be someone that was pleasing to others, in one way or another. I’m going to spend the second half having fun. Counting calories down to the last one, meticulous workouts designed to perfect my body… There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just not for me. At the same time, I embrace a very simple concept: If you want to make your gut look smaller, build up your shoulders and pecs!
That out of the way, I am always looking for free speed on the bike. I also look for ways to be as comfortable as possible on mile 90. Finally, while I’m not interested in perfection, I am interested in “much better than average”. It’s well known that studies suggest non-weight bearing activities can lead to weak bones. While the case can be made that cycling, at least in the real world, isn’t as non-weight bearing as some like to make it out to be, I’d rather be safe than sorry. Capisce?
Now, being a bit of a realist, I’m not going to blow my money on some kind of ridiculous contraption to aid me in attaining my goal – especially when I know that what I need is quite simple; Push-ups. Hands and toes, push on the ground, repeat.
I started a little more than a month ago. Unfortunately it’s worked a little too well and I’ve put on a few pounds as a result. Thinking as a lopsided cyclist, those few extra pounds will hurt on the hills. Thinking as a balanced cyclist, those few extra pounds will help on the flats and downhill sections – and that’s what is really important. My back is stronger, my shoulders are stronger, my chest and arms are stronger as a result of doing push-ups for a little more than a month. We all know about the extra weight, but consider; I don’t ride a road bike like most people ride mountain bikes or hybrids. I ride low on the handlebars. The extra strength allows me to ride a little lower in the drops and it allows me to ride comfortably, longer. This is all good.
And let’s face it, Chris Froome may very well be an awesome cyclist but his spaghetti arms make him look like a living caricature. I have no desire to look like that. Of course, if I was making half of what Froome does to ride a bike, well you can call me spaghetti man.
So after a month of doing daily push-ups (all five weekdays, weekends off), I couldn’t be happier. I feel good, I look better and I ride more comfortably. Yes, I might be a little slower going up a hill on a bicycle, but I can work through that. What really matters is having a decent balance and being happy anyway – and I can’t be happy with spaghetti arms.