John Cockrill has cycled at least 400km a month for years.
So why was he putting on belly fat as he approached his 51st birthday?
Like many of my clients, John discovered how small changes make a big difference.
Here’s the story of how he lost weight, gained muscle, improved his cycling, and ended up feeling as energised as he did at 30!
John had never worried about his weight, and knew that his road cycling passion gave him plenty of exercise.
But he’d noticed a steady weight gain since he turned 40, and it wasn’t stopping.
“The weight was all going on around my middle, which I know is unhealthy,” he said.
“It didn’t even come off during lockdown when all my work socialising and client drinks stopped. I couldn’t feasibly do any more exercise than I already was. I knew I had to do something different.”
Those extra 12 lbs showed up as niggling aches and pains, new injuries, and unwelcome extra effort on hilly rides.
Online Coaching That Respects Existing Sports Training
When John got in touch to discuss online coaching, it was clear that cycling was immensely important.
We needed to find a way to shift that belly fat without impacting John’s power on the bike.
“I asked Joe to help me with two things,” he explained,
“the food side of the equation, which I’ve never really grasped, and my cycling performance. I also wanted to get back to the weight levels I was at in my 30s and improve my power to weight ratio on the bike”.
Challenge accepted. With John’s 52nd birthday just under a year away, we started working together on nutrition, resistance training, and healthy habits.
Since John isn’t local to me, we worked together online.
I set up a programme of nutrition, food education, and accountability all built around his existing cycling training.
Introducing Strength Training To Build A More Powerful Cyclist
One missing piece of the puzzle was strength training. Like many dedicated cyclists, John spent all his exercise time on the bike (or Zwift).
I explained why it’s important to do some resistance training, and how we could target key areas without adding any extra bulk.
John soon discovered that the right amount of strength training will build muscle, add power, and accelerate fat burn – and feel great!
Finding The Sweet Spot Of Energy Balance
As a 6ft cyclist, John naturally needed a reasonable amount of calories.
But his sedentary job had led to that steady weight gain.
Within the first 6-8 weeks of working together, we discovered John’s caloric sweet spot, and the weight started melting away.
“It became almost formulaic, which appeals to the engineering side of my brain,” he said.
“With Joe’s support, I discovered that if I maintained a consistent level of exercise and stuck to the nutrition, I would lose at least 1lb a week.”
From 77 kgs To 71 kgs Without Losing Strength
In a few months, John had lost 6kgs without any negative impact on his cycling fitness.
In fact, the difference in bodyweight had a huge impact on his power to weight ratio.
John started seeing the results in his Strava times – and his cycling buddies could no longer keep up with him on hills!
“Joe’s strength training programme helped me gain power on the bike, and actually fixed a painful frozen shoulder issue,” John said.
“When we started working together, I couldn’t do a side plank at all. After 12 weeks with Joe, I could hold the position for a minute. And my upper body strength and posture were so much better.”
Cracking The Calorie Conundrum
Like many sporty people, John had a decent grasp of healthy eating (and understood the concept of energy balance for weight loss). But he had still been gaining weight.
“Joe helped me realise that cycling was actually leading me to overeat, especially after long rides when I was hungry and assumed I could eat with abandon!” said John.
Our work together around portion sizes, hunger cues, and food quality made John more mindful about his eating habits.
A few simple tweaks soon helped him choose filling foods that support energy levels and fat loss.
Inspiring The Next Generation
John has surpassed all of his goals, dropping to 15% body fat, adding muscle, and getting back to exactly what he weighed at age 30!
But the changes didn’t stop with him. John’s 14 year old daughter was inspired by his efforts and started to join him in his workouts.
“As a parent, it’s great to know that not only have I made myself healthier, I’ve also set a good example for my kids,” he said. “It just shows that a single decision to get coaching can have a much bigger impact on life as a whole.”
The Next Challenge
Energised by his achievements John has entered the RideLondon – Essex 100. On Sunday 29th May he will be cycling 100miles in order to help raise money for Diabetes.
If you have been inspired by his journey he politely requests that you consider contributing the price of a pint to his just giving charity page here
Well done John, I’m really proud of what you’ve achieved.
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