Coach Fred Matheny Replies:
The obvious answer is to tell you not to let it bother you. But that’s easy to say when I’m not surrounded by hulking plateheads.
One solution is to forget the gym and set up your own weight room at home if you have spare space. It isn’t expensive to get a weight set, a pull-up bar and a step-up bench so you can do plenty of cycling-specific exercises in the privacy of your home. My book, Fred Matheny’s Complete Book of Road Bike Training, emphasizes home-based weight training.
It’s also possible that you’re going to the wrong gym. Some are frequented by power lifters and bodybuilders who are interested in lifting for lifting’s sake. You’d be better off at a health club that caters to recreational athletes and people who are simply trying to be fit. Most will be using the same weights you are.
Or, you could recruit some cycling friends to meet you at the gym so you have people with similar goals to work out with.
Remember, there’s nothing to be ashamed of when using light weights. In fact, it means you’re doing it right. Here’s one of my favorite passages from Ned Overend in his book, “Mountain Bike Like a Champion.”
“I’ve learned to start each winter program like a 98-pound weakling rather than Arnold Schwarzenegger. You need to swallow your pride in the weight room. When that 100-pound woman gets off the machine, reduce the weight before you take over. Machismo will only get you injured. Err on the side of using a bit less weight than you can handle, rather than too much.”
Don’t give up on those Arnolds, though. You only suspect they’re laughing at you. Get to know them a little. When they understand your sport and your goals, they’ll probably be supportive.
Coach Fred Matheny is an RBR co-founder who has four decades of road cycling and coaching experience. He has written 14 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach Fred Matheny, including the classic Complete Book of Road Bike Training, which includes 4 eBooks comprising 250 pages of timeless, detailed advice and training plans. The Complete Book is one of the many perks of an RBR Premium Membership. Click to read Fred’s full bio.