What Lance Armstrong Can Teach You about Getting Fit

Even from someone who made a whole lot of serious mistakes, you can learn a couple of things about getting fit

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Lance Armstrong cheated but he knew how to get fit

Lance Armstrong’s recent confession on Oprah confirmed what many people already knew, but it doesn’t negate his natural talent as a world-class athlete. And that’s something we can still learn from

People who knew even a little about pro cycling weren’t surprised by Armstrong’s admission that he doped and used performance-enhancing drugs. He cheated, he conspired to cheat, he intimidated people and abused the legal system and he got caught. And now he’s paying the price.

But even though I’m not an Armstrong fan, I’ll admit the guy still had the natural talent to be a world-class endurance athlete and he knew a thing or two about getting in peak shape for his sport. So whether or not you’re an Armstrong fan, let’s look at some positive things you can learn from him to improve your fitness.

Fitness Lessons from Lance Armstrong

1. Find a sport or activity you like and make that the focus of your fitness program. It’s easier to stay fit if you do something that doesn’t feel like you’re simply “working out”. Road cycling is the new golf with GranFondo rides and charity bike rides becoming increasingly popular events. But if you don’t like cycling there are many other options: traditional team sports like hockey or beach volleyball or outdoor activities like hiking or standup paddleboarding. The key is that you enjoy what you’re doing, even through the tough training sessions.

2. Decide on a goal. Armstrong wanted to be the best Tour de France rider ever. Choosing a race, group ride or fitness vacation like a hiking trip to Peru gives purpose to your training beyond just “getting in shape”. You’ll have a deadline which will help you stick to a training schedule. 

3. Find a partner or a group to train with. Armstrong enjoyed training and was known to put in long hours (as do all elite athletes). He also liked to train with his teammates or friends. Marathon runners train in groups to help each other on those long weekend runs. Cyclists have weekend group rides for those fondos and swimmers meet for early morning swim workouts. You’re much more likely to stick to a training program if you have a buddy or two. Committing to meet others will help you get out there when the weather is bad, or get out of bed at some ungodly hour when you’d like nothing more than to stay in your warm, cozy bed.

4. Do other activities that support your main one. As he aged, Armstrong spent more time cross-training, especially weight training and running. Every athlete can benefit from doing some strength training and working on their flexibility. So don’t just bike, run or hike. Hit the weights and do some yoga. And if your main activity is yoga, add some form of aerobic training into your routine.

5. Get some help from a coach. The best athletes in the world all have coaches that help them prepare to be their best and Armstrong was no exception. You may not be training to win an international event, but a good coach can save you a lot of time and pain. Learning good technique can spare you from overuse injuries as can following a proper training program. If you follow tip number two and join a group, they’ll often have a coach that works with the group. Or they’ll have a well-designed training program.

Prefer to hit the gym solo? Check out the best gyms for cardio, strength training and specialty fitness classses in Vancouver.