Svein Tuft values variety in movement, especially in the off-season
How the world class rider builds overall strength and versatility with a variety of activities in the off-season
Svein Tuft is known for his mountain-man reputation. He used take his dog Bear on mountain climbing trips into the B.C. backcountry by bike. The Langley, B.C., native grew up in a family that prioritized time spent outside. He learned to ski at age three. For the next 12 years, the family would load up in an RV to spend weekends going “full gas” – as he says – on crosscountry skis in the mountains. During the summer, the family would go out for big hikes in the mountains. These activities instilled a love of exploring the outdoors.
At 42 years old, Tuft is still a force to be reckoned with in a time trial and serves as a rock-solid domestique. His ability to continue to perform comes down to the variety of activities that make up his training plan.
“I really think that being versatile and strengthening the rest of your body as a whole instead of focusing on one thing really helps avoid injury,” Tuft said. “In that whole process, it’s strength in bones and getting muscle mass in places that might not be so helpful in road racing, but when you crash, you come out OK: without a dislocated shoulder or broken collarbone. I really believe that cycling is a great part of my life. I’ve had a great long career. I think it’s thanks to those other sports that laid the foundation.”
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Throughout his career, Tuft has learned to balance the needs of road-racing fitness with the mental rejuvenation that comes from spending time doing other activities. One off-season, he had spent so much time doing other things that he hadn’t hit the base mileage he needed. He ended up riding from B.C. to his team’s California camp to get the distance into his legs.
On any given day now, Tuft will start off with the fun stuff, doing a backcountry ski tour in the morning or heading out for a run. Then he’ll come home and do an trainer session to remind his body about the nature of road racing and the specific movements required.
Hiking is one of Tuft’s staple activities. He’ll start in the fall by going out for an hour or two and building to three- or four hours walks before doing what he calls “some epic hikes.” The diversity of terrain and movement required by hiking in the mountains has helped Tuft maintain an all-over level of fitness that would be impossible to achieve by working just on a bike.
“It’s really contrary to everything we do on a road bike,” said Tuft. “I think hiking is one of the best activities for your posture, and your hips and your back. It’s very dynamic when you’re scrambling up a mountain, using your hands.”
Tuft’s time on two wheels also includes touring and mountain biking. The Pyrenean mountain passes are prime locations to push fitness on a touring bike while simultaneously hitting key road cycling workouts and disconnecting from the training mentality. He’ll do an outdoor road ride “for fun” when the weather is right.
“Mentally, you need to disconnect from the day in and day out,” said Tuft. “You need to be able to hit that disconnect button on the SRM. I mean, that stuff is part of the job, but it’s just not healthy to do all the time. Road racing can have a bit of a funny mentality. I like the mountain biker’s way of living a lot more. For me it’s about having that switch of mentality.”