Many riders in the Etape du Tour are using their training as a good way of losing weight. The theory is that the less weight you have to carry up those hills, the faster you will go!

However, muscle is denser than fat. So where does a good balance lie? A standard method of assessing weight is your Body Mass Index, or BMI. This is calculated by dividing your Weight (in Kg) by your height squared (in meters). For those who prefer non-metric units, here is a calculator for calculating your BMI.

Enter your Weight : stones lb
Enter your Height: feet inches



So what is an ideal BMI for a racing cyclist? A study of the BMIs of nine cycle racing champions including Merckx, Altig and Gimondi ( http://freespace.virgin.net/j.dainty/rfwtrain.htm) showed them to have BMIs in the range of 21 to 25. Surprisingly, this is in the upper half of the "healthy weight" range given on standard medical charts! The average value was 22.7.

This is a very useful finding, as it gives a target weight range to aim for. Obviously build, bone wight etc will differ from person to person. BMI is only an approximate measure, and the above figures will be less accurate for riders below 5ft 7inches or above 6 feet, as the recommended weight varies somewhat with height. The figures do give a useful reference however.