Looks like I’ll need to lose about 20lbs to be a World Champ…
What’s the Ideal Weight for Cycling?
Let’s start by looking at the size and weight averages of world champion cyclists over the past 12 years to show the ideal weight range needed to compete on a very high level. The easiest way to do this is to average each rider’s weight in pounds per inch of height. The table below shows the average weight per inch of height for men and women road and mountain bike word champions1,2.
Body weight in lbs. per inch of height – World champion cyclists 2001 – 2012
Mean (average), and standard deviation
As you can see, to compete on the world’s highest level you need to be light in weight – specifically, approximately 1.85-1.87 lbs per inch for women, and 2.15-2.19 lbs per inch for men. But body weight is not the only factor in elite performance – being as strong as possible while maintaining a healthy light weight is the key.
Maximizing Power-to-Weight Ratio
Power-to-weight ratio is the formula used to determine your strength compared to your weight, and it’s the great equalizer when comparing riders of different sizes. The higher your power-to-weight ratio the faster you will go. Power-to-weight ratio is calculated by dividing your body weight in kilograms (1 kg = 2.2 lbs) into average watts for a given range. For example, if you can produce 300 watts for your functional threshold power (FTP, about a 60 minute time trial effort), and you weight 74 kg (163 lbs), your power to weight ratio is 4.05 at your FTP range. This means you can generate 4.05 watts for every kilogram of body weight. A power to weight ratio of 4 to 4.5 is equivalent to a competitive Category 2 racer. A power to weight ratio of 5-6 would put you in the range of a Category 1 elite professional (according to Andy Coggan’s power profiling chart).