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Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding.

The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel

Carrie Cheadle, MA ( is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University.

Dave Palese ( is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16 years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl, daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.

Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000. Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows, he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins, CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural, urgent care, inpatient and the like.

Fiona Lockhart ( is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting (Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10 years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.

Eddie Monnier ( is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track, road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from any geography.

David Fleckenstein, MPT ( is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes. He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.

Since 1986 Steve Hogg ( has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable cycling problem.They include World and National champions at one end of the performance spectrum to amputees and people with disabilities at the other end.

Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.

Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated changes in menstrual function on bone health.

Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion. Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.

Dario Fredrick ( is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.

Scott Saifer ( has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.

Kendra Wenzel ( is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.

Richard Stern ( is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive cyclist for 20 years

Andy Bloomer ( is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training. He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past 4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.

Kim Morrow ( has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion, and a Fitness Professional.

Her coaching group, eliteFITcoach, is based out of the Southeastern United States, although they coach athletes across North America. Kim also owns, a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find a coach.

Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews, you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Fitness questions and answers for May 13, 2003

Weights and recovery
Building leg strength
Broken ulna and radius

Weights and recovery

I am a 25 year old, Cat. 3 cyclist. I took the last year off from riding due to graduate school. I did, however, maintain a steady running program in the evenings. I started riding lightly (150 a week) about three months ago and noticed a serious lack of strength (my short cuffs fit much more loosely around my thigh). So, two months ago, I have been incorporating weights as proscribed by Friel on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Since starting weights, I've stopped riding on Wednesdays for fear of overdoing it because I have been sore, and I know it can take muscles up to 72 hours to completely repair.

But I feel like I'm slacking. Is it okay to ride for two or three hours at a light to medium intensity on Wednesday if my legs are still sore? Would I be working a different system or just prolonging recovery? Also, if I am experiencing very mild soreness on Thursday should I lift again? Am I being a wuss? Should I just anticipate riding and lifting with a constant, mild soreness in my legs? Otherwise, it seems, weights require two to three off days a week. What should I do?

Paul Malonowski
Austin, Texas USA

Brett Aitken replies:

Yes, you should definitely go out and do a light to medium intensity ride on the Wednesdays. It is actually more likely to help the recovery process of muscle repair from the previous day's weight training than to hinder it. Not doing anything at all is like treading water (you're not going anywhere) and you are more likely to feel heavy in the legs and sore on Thursday than if you were to go out and do a light ride on the Wednesday.

As long as you have the time, the aerobic benefit of doing Wednesday's ride is equally as beneficial as the strength gain of doing weights. This makes it also a good option to do on the basis you aren't going to be overloading any one energy system too much.

Don't worry about the mild soreness on Thursdays too much either. It comes with the trade, your body will adapt and you may find that Wednesday's ride may help alleviate this anyway. Stick with it!

Ric Stern replies:

Given your age, the time of year, and I assume you're an endurance racing cyclist (cat 3), there really is no need to do any weight training, especially as it appears to be interfering with your on the bike training, see

Assuming that you want to improve your cycling performance, this will be best trained with on the bike exercises, such as endurance riding, tempo work, sub time trial type efforts, and as you approach your season's peak higher intensity VO2 max type work.

If you really wanted to do weights/resistance/strength type training, this would be best done either in the off season, or after a period of rehab if for example, a muscle has atrophied.

Kim Morrow replies:

It's good to hear that you are able to get back out on the bike again. Your approach with weight training may need to be altered, however. First of all, since it is already the month of May, you may consider doing on-the-bike specific resistance work in order to maximize your training. Examples of this type of workout may be big gear/low rpm steady state efforts or power hill sprints, utilizing varying gear ratios. The approach you take will further depend upon your unique race goals, the time of year of these key events, and your strengths/weaknesses as a rider. If you are only lifting twice per week, I'd recommend a 3 day rotation between lifting sessions instead of simply a 48 hour recovery period. For example, during the early season preparation period, my athletes will lift on a Monday/Thursday or a Tuesday/Friday. Again, this depends upon our long-term goals. If I had an athlete who had a late start to the season, then I would focus primarily on building strength/power on the bike versus in the gym.

Finally, since you mentioned Joe Friel in your question, I asked Joe to comment on your question. I am very familiar with his training approach and was concerned that you may be incorporating weight training differently than he would recommend. He commented:

"Let me just say that if a rider has properly periodized his/her weight training relative to on-bike training that soreness should never be an issue. When weight training volume/load is high, riding volume/intensity is low. I would also not recommend lifting with less than 72 hours between sessions when doing two strength sessions per week. For older riders (40, 50 or so depending on the individual) I recommend lifting year round but only once per week in the Build periods. And these workouts are quite limited to make sure that on-bike training isn't unduly compromised. All of this is described in my latest version of the Cyclist's Training Bible which just came out last month." - Joe Friel

Building leg strength

I am a 30-year-old male cyclist who has been riding for two and a half and racing for one and a half. Previously I was sedentary and overweight at 95kg and hadn't done any fitness work for 10 years. I am 6ft 3in and weigh approx 76kg. My max. output is 473w and VO2 Max is 73. I have noticed my climbing ability and endurance and aerobic capability in a road race is equal to my B grade competitors, but I recently raced A grade (at the Range, against Brett Aitken among others!) and was dropped early.

I seem to struggle on the flat with putting out a lot of power. Is this partially due to my relative lack of conditioning as far as years in the saddle? To remedy this is it better to start climbing seated/slowly in a big gear, or will repeated interval sprinting help this problem? Do I need to hit the gym for squats etc. I haven't done any specific training before, just chased better guys all over S.A.

Pat Bruse
Adelaide, Australia

Ric Stern replies:

It'd be interesting to know what test the 473 W was the result of and on what equipment. For instance, if this was achieved at the end of an incremental test to exhaustion with an increment of 20-25W/min, then that's an excellent score.

At the level that you're at strength training won't have any beneficial effect, as strength isn't associated with aerobic performance or endurance cycling, see: for a general overview.

Almost certainly, what you need to focus on is long, moderately intense intervals at just below TT pace, which will bring up your sustainable power output and increase your ability to put out this type of power for long periods of time.

You should be looking at incorporating one to two efforts of 20 to 30 mins at a few percent below TT power/effort/HR, once or twice per week, after a good warm up and with a small recovery period between each interval. These workouts can be done inside on a turbo trainer or outside on the road. If you're using power (e.g., Power Tap, SRM, etc) then every time the effort becomes comfortable you can try upping the power output a few watts in the next session.

Once you start approaching your peak fitness, then you can start incorporating shorter higher intensity intervals of four minutes, see

Keep up the good work, and tell us how it goes.

Broken ulna and radius

I am a 35-year-old recreational cyclist. Last year I had a very good year of riding, 1000 miles. 420 of that came from a four day tour that I have ridden eight times in years past (DALMAC). My typical riding routine is 20-25 miles on a Saturday and Sunday morning from April through August to prepare for DALMAC which is Labor Day weekend. The Saturday night before Easter (April 19) I broke my ulna and radius in my right hand so I am temporarily left-handed for now. On April 24 I had surgery and the doctor put in a titanium plate (matches my Serotta!) because I had compacted the ulna. My wrist was unaffected by the injury so the bones just have to heal. I hope to have this plate removed in a year's time since I don't think that titanium is a good thing to leave in the human body.

I never take aspirin. However, since surgery I'm taking two Motrin every six hours during the day and two night-time Tylenol before sleeping to keep the pain at bay. The incision from surgery has healed together nicely and there is a minimum of swelling left in the wrist. I keep it elevated during the day, in a carpal tunnel splint all the time except when showering, and I ice it for 15-30 minutes in the evening before going to bed. To retain flexibility in my fingers, I try to keep them wiggling and bend them to maintain my full range of motion several times during the day. They will put me through PT in a few weeks time and have instructed me to do nothing with my hand until then.

My main question is: should I basically give up the idea of riding this year to let the bones heal, or would it be safe to gradually get into riding with the goal of doing a quad century at the beginning of September?

I'm a 6ft 1in tall, 185lb, male, husband, father of two wonderful girls, small business owner.

Roland Hermann
Shelby Township, MI

Jim Lehman replies:

A few years ago I managed to fracture my radius twice in one year and I am carrying around a titanium plate and screws as a memory of that year. The first fracture occurred in January of that year and in my haste to return to training, I got back on the road a bit too quick. I spent about six weeks riding the trainer in an attempt to maintain a reasonable level of fitness and then as soon as I was given the green light by the doctor I began training and racing with a brace. At the time, I may kept some information from my doctor, such as how much riding I was doing and I think this lead to his early release date. I was able to ride with mild discomfort for the next couple of months, but never with full confidence. In September of that year, I fell on the arm again and broke the radius on the same fracture line - bending the stainless steel plate that had been installed. Back to surgery I went and this time they installed a longer, titanium plate with twice as many screws. At this point, the doctor informed me that there was not much bone to work with if I were to fracture it again. Upon hearing this, I took a more conservative approach to training/racing. I did return to the trainer and was able to maintain my fitness, but I did not return to the road for another eight weeks. The time was spent maintaining fitness and ensuring that I would have full range of motion in my wrist and elbow.

Long story, short - you do not have to throw in the towel for this season. You can still train indoors and make use of the high quality workouts that you can perform indoors. A well-balanced training program will allow to maximize your time and alleviate some of the boredom that comes with riding on the trainer. Focus on short, intense intervals. These will help you maintain your current fitness and even improve it. Most workouts can be completed in 60-90 minutes. You may lose a little aerobic endurance during this time, but it is much easier to re-establish this aspect of your fitness once you have been given the green light to ride outdoors. You may try to do one long ride per week, 90-120 minutes but don't stress over it and burn yourself out. Also, make sure you are integrating your physical therapy routine into your training program. You may want to talk with you doctor about a bone density scan or calcium supplementation if you think you are at risk for bone fractures. And finally, be honest and up front with your doctor so he/she knows exactly what you mean when you say, "Well, I do some bike riding..."

Be patient, all is not lost.

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