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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 March 26, 2003

Two races in one day
Heart rate affected by illness
Intervals and power

Two races in one day

I am a 30 year old Cat. 3 racer in the Southeast that trains around 13 to 14 hours per week. In my schedule there are a lot of omnium events where I will do a road race in the morning and a time trial in the afternoon. My question is, what is the best use of my time between events regarding: food intake, stretching, warming up/cooling down, massage and just resting. I am looking for a routine that will optimize my results in the TT after a hard road race.

Jason Jeansonne

Brett Aitken replies:

One of the most important factors in becoming a better cyclist is how to recover. Recovery is extremely underrated. If you recover faster then you can train sooner and harder for better results.

In relation to your specific event it would be wise to spend the first 10 minutes cooling down lightly to flush the system of any lactic acid that may be pooling in the legs.

At the same time you could also start fueling the body in readiness for your next event. Start by taking in some high glycaemic index foods eg. rice, glucose, bread and jam etc. which are absorbed into the blood stream very quickly to replenish carbohydrate stores. Also constantly rehydrate through glucose polymer drinks such as Powerade, Gatorade etc.

If you've got a couple of hours between events then you could have a light massage after about half an hour followed by some stretching. Then just rest and keep the energy stores up by gradually eating more lower glycaemic index foods that trickle the sugar in more slowly and will help sustain a high energy level throughout the time trial. Eat in small quantities so that your hunger is satisfied but your not too full and try and finish at least an hour before even though you might only have a small amount of time between events.

Finally get a good warm up before you start again (especially for a time trial) and go hard!


I am planning to do a 65km ride in a few months time. At the moment I am going to the gym five nights a week. One of the nights I do a body pump class, and the other night I do a body combat class, then for the other nights I use the treadmills, bikes, rower machines and cross trainer.

What should I be doing to prepare for the ride? Am I working the right parts of my body, or should I be focusing more on my legs?

Belinda Kimmorley

Kim Morrow replies:

As you prepare for your upcoming ride, think in terms of specificity. When I say "specificity", I am referring to training for a 65km ride by focusing on specific cycling preparation. It sounds like you have a good level of basic fitness with your body pump class, treadmill and rowing machine work. I'd suggest that you spend at least 2-3 days per week actually riding your bicycle. I have no idea of your cycling background, but you should probably estimate the time it will take you to complete 65km and begin to build up to that distance over the next few months. It is also important to make sure that you are adept at the skills involved with riding on the road, and riding in groups. Of course, you may already know these, but this is important to note since riding on the road will introduce a whole set of situations that will never be encountered in the gym.

Enjoy your ride!

Heart rate affected by illness

I have a question about maximum heart rate. I was a competitive cyclist at the age of 20 (category 2) and had a maximum heart rate of 202. I got sick with Epstein Barr virus that year and stopped competing seriously. I am now 32 and ever since I got sick (12 years ago!) my max heart rate has been 182. Have you heard of a permanent lowering of max heart rate due to illness?

Scott David Olson
Los Angeles

Eddie Monnier replies:

I have heard of athletes with heart viruses witnessing changes in their usual heart rates, but they all witnessed higher than average rates across all training intensities (it was originally dismissed by doctors as overtraining but none of the other symptoms were present), not lower max heart rates.

Max heart rate normally declines with age. Dr. Costill, a leading researcher, showed a decrease of ~5-10 percent (depending on the state of training they maintained) over a 25-year period. However, you report that the decline in max heart rate has been present since you were sick (note: generally one must completely stop training until the virus is gone to avoid scarring the heart muscle).

I suggest you speak to your cardiologist about the matter.

[Editor's note: Scott then responded that he had seen a cardiologist, in fact more than one over the years and had been assured he was fine, and could we recommend a sports-oriented cardiologist on Scott's area. Eddie was able to recommend two.]

Intervals and power

I've been a roadie since July 2001 after a MTB injury put me out for a year. Since then, I've lost about 8kg and my average speeds on an endurance ride (125-147bpm) have increased from 24km/h to 29-30km/h . I'm 28 yrs old and weigh 58kgs right now. I train about 10-13hrs a week on average depending on phase. I'm into the Build phases now but not doing any VO2 max work yet. The Friel book has been an inspiration and I use it to structure my training. My current LT is about 175bpm on flats and about 178bpm on climbs exceeding 7 percent. I recently obtained a Polar Power Unit to use with my S710 heart rate monitor. I am not sure about the accuracy of the unit, since it is subject to vagaries of set-up. Strangely my power output seems to drop in higher gear combinations even though my speed increases. I do two kinds of intervals at the moment aimed at raising LT and improving muscular endurance (higher gear at relatively high cadence 90 rpm). Cruise intervals at intensities of 170-173bpm on flats and on a climb averaging 4-5 percent. On the former the S710 tells me my power output is a lowly average of about 200-210watts. On the latter it reads an average of about 270-280 watts. On climbs steeper than 8 percent and lasting up to about 12km I can sustain an output of about 300 watts (cadence drops to 65-70rpm) though I can even sustain an effort at about 180bpm for up to 15 minutes.

My limiters are muscular endurance and strength particularly on flats and what I call power climbs, short ones that require a bigger gear and arguably a lower cadence. Of course I can improve overall. I'd love to ride like Lance and spin at 95rpm all the time, but can't at the moment. I want to train using power but the readings fluctuate too much on long intervals to raise LT. Moreover Chris Carmichael seems to suggest that the best use of the meter is after a workout for analysis on the computer. I would like to make full use of the unit and to improve enough to be competitive. I've done one road race in Open Men's (no categorized racing in Malaysia) and averaged 37km/h over 120km though I was 25 minutes behind the winner. This year my big goals are a similar road race in June and a 60km time trial in May. I am doing a series of time trials before hand and one other road race in early May. The time trials are 50-60kms long and the training for it should improve my road-racing over a flat course with two or three of these power climbs. How do I train with power in a sensible way especially on long intervals when the power outputs seem to fluctuate rather wildly in different gear combinations and over terrain variations?

Ratna Rueban

Eddie Monnier replies:

Glad to hear you're structured in your training and serious about continual improvement. You've asked a lot of questions. I will respond to some of the specific ones.

"...I am not sure about the accuracy of the [Polar Power] unit..."

You are correct in that the Polar wattage unit's accuracy is greatly impacted by the quality of the installation, which can be cumbersome. Furthermore, even when properly installed the unit tends to under-report power vs. an SRM or PT as power increases and can be suspect in certain gear combinations.

"...How do I train with power in a sensible way especially on long intervals when the power outputs seem to fluctuate rather wildly in different gear combinations and over terrain variations?..."

If the terrain is too undulating, you may consider doing them inside on a trainer where it is easier to maintain a consistent intensity and you don't have to worry about road distractions. Just make sure you have adequate cooling. Test your Polar on the trainer to see which gear combinations read most steadily and try to use those.

"...Chris Carmichael seems to suggest that the best use of the meter is after a workout for analysis on the computer..."

Chris Carmichael may have that perspective because athletes like Lance are so dialed into their bodies. However, I definitely think it's appropriate to use wattages to prescribe interval training sessions and I do so regularly. I am a big proponent of power-based training but I don't completely ignore heart rate or rating of perceived exertion. I use all three in prescribing and analyzing workouts, though my emphasis will vary depending on the type of workout.

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