Why Wiggo piled on the pounds for the track (Why Wiggo piled on the pounds for the track)Why Wiggo piled on the pounds for the track (Why Wiggo piled on the pounds for the track) © Copyright

Bulk up for your bike

As he prepared for his appearance at the UCI World Track Championships at the London Olympic velodrome next month, Sir Bradley Wiggins posted on his Instagram feed a shot of his weight on 2 Jan 2016 against his weight on 12 May 2014 when he was riding in the road race tour of California. He had gained 11.45kg, very nearly 2st.

Wigggins weight before and after images (Wiggins' Instragram pic of his weight on 12th May 2014 and 2nd Jan 2016)


Given that we all know that riders are very cautious when it comes to putting on weight, what was he thinking of? It turns out he know what he’s doing. As Ciaran O’Grady, Head Sports Scientist and Coach at Cadence Performance, explains, “Back when Bradley Wiggins was winning the Tour, his focus was on his power-to-weight ratio, because he was having to do the Alpine climbs. For track riders, the bigger focus is their ‘power to coefficient of drag’ ratio.

“When a rider puts on weight [muscle mass], they gain a lot more power, but not that much increase in frontal area – because of the positioning of the rider – so that power to coefficient of drag ratio improves when a rider puts on weight.”

Which sort of makes sense. So how would the average rider (mere mortals like you and us) increase their power? Naturally, it depends on the individual rider, but O’Grady suggests six methods should you wish to join the madness.

HIIT training section.

“Durations of efforts from 30secs to three minutes, and effort:recovery ratio from 1:1 – 1:3 would be good. Interval training indoors – on a turbo trainer or rollers – is a lot more specific and controllable than outdoor riding.”

Resistance training

“The focus is not to build up pure muscle mass but to improve the force output for each muscle group. So doing basic exercises like squats, deadlifts and Olympic lifts will improve hamstring, quad, glutes and lower-back strength exceptionally well.”

Low-cadence work

“If you don’t want to do weightlifting, an old school method is to do more low-cadence, on-the-bike resistance training. Find a hill that’s no more than 10 minutes in length and not too steep a gradient. You want to be able to ride it in a big gear (that’s the big ring at the front, and a small one at the back) holding a cadence of around 50-70 rpm. The drawback is that it’s quite stressful on the knees and joints, so it’s not something that you should jump wholeheartedly into – you should incorporate it in stages and pay attention to your core work and your flexibility before doing that.”


“On the road, you can get away with being a little bit inefficient in movement, but with the power outputs that you’re looking at on the track events, you have to have a stable platform from which to push off with your legs. If your upper body is rocking all over the place, it’s not going to work. When you see guys rocking and rolling around, chances are it’s their core that is failing them. Pilates/yoga work would be great for improving the core.”

Upper body

“If you’re in an aero position/tuck, you’re essentially maintaining a plank while putting out high levels of force with your legs, so make sure your upper back and shoulders are as solid as possible, as well as your core. Again, Pilates and gym work are your friends.

Sprint training

“There is a dual focus here: building power and technique. To increase power, you should look at working on a turbo or WattBike with short 10 to 30-second intervals on an indoor trainer at the highest power you can complete, either from a standstill (looking at improving the ‘snap’ of a sprint) or from a high cadence (looking at being able to hold a high power output). To improve technique, you can work outdoors on the road following the same formats, but with more focus on gear selection and control. A flat or small incline is really good for this, but should be clear and safe to complete a maximum effort on.”


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