Tour of California leader


Tour of California leader Leipheimer helped by hypnosis CD
Professional cyclist Levi Leipheimer uses sports hypnosis CDs to improve his race performance.
By Sal Ruibal, USA TODAY

Levi Leipheimer of the Astana team took the overall lead in the Amgen Tour of California Monday and will try to hold that spot in what could be his third consecutive win at the USA's biggest bike race.

But his career hasn't always been so successful.

In 2006, Leipheimer had a resume that included the championships of the prestigious Dauphine Libere road race in France and the Tour of Germany, but the skier-turned-cyclist had a feeling that he wasn't getting the most out of his cycling talents.

He was working with the best coaches and riding for powerful teams such as U.S. Postal Service, but something was missing.

STAGE 2: Leipheimer moves into race lead

A chance meeting at a bicycle trade show that October led to an athletic epiphany.

While strolling the aisles at a Las Vegas convention hall, Leipheimer stopped by Josh Horowitz' Liquid Fitness booth. Horowitz coaches both elite pro and amateur riders. His holistic approach to training includes a big dose of mental training, especially the use of hypnosis.

"The mind is probably the single most important part of our bodies that we need to train," Horowitz says.

He gave Leipheimer a copy of a Cycling Hypnosis CD he had created with a clinical hypnotherapist and asked him to try it out and give him feedback about the recording.

"At first, I thought it was a little strange, a bit goofy, but I tried to have an open mind," Leipheimer says. "My entire career I wanted to be the best cyclist, so it made sense to focus on the mental aspects. A lot of people defeat themselves before the race."

Horowitz stresses that the hypnosis techniques used in the Cycling Hypnosis CD are far removed from theatrical hypnotism. Clinical hypnotism was approved by the American Medical Association in 1958 and by the American Psychological Association in 1960.

Leipheimer started using the CD that year, listening to it as he would fall asleep each night.

The recording uses the listener's subconscious mind to receive positive thoughts, including mental imagery about correct bike position and pedalling.

Leipheimer is now a paid endorser of the Cycling CD.

Since using the CD, he won the California event two years in a row and was third in the 2007 Tour de France. He also won a bronze medal in the time trial at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

"When you get the mental part down," he says. "The body follows."