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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 June 5, 2003

Training for climbing and distance endurance
Heart rate control
Which days should I train hard?
Over-trained or under-trained?

Training for climbing and distance endurance

I am a strong 45 year old female recreational rider who lives in one of the mountain states. My organized training with an internet coach has developed an endurance base, tempo base and leg speed. I am thrilled with my accomplishments. I completed a flat century in under 5 hours and my hill times have improved by 10%. My current goals are to tour in the French Alps for two weeks (57 miles and ascent 6000 feet per day), improve my time on the Snowbird Hill Climb (10 miles, ascent 5000 feet, 8/03) and finish the LOTOJA (200 miles, ascent 4500 feet, 9/03) in under 10 hours. I have lost my focus. I have returned to multiple group rides that include ascents. I am open to suggestions for developing endurance for climbing and distance? How can I utilize the 4-7% grade hills in the area without developing fatigue or overtraining? I train 5 days per week and my hours per week are 10-12.

Linda Wolf
SLC, Utah

Brett Aitken replies

I would suggest that you break your week down into a structured routine that is giving you measureable results to gauge your progress on a weekly basis. If you train 5 days a week for a total of 10 to 12 hours then try breaking this up into 3 hard days which alternate with 2 recovery days between. The 3 hard days could consist of one long endurance ride of 3 to 4 hours at medium intensity while the other two could be more specific sessions of 2 hours in duration. This could include one day comprising of short intervals between 3 and 6 minutes while the other could focus on developing your anaerobic threshold.

Being focused is very much reliant on seeing improvements so you could incorporate hill climb time trials as part of your anaerobic threshold training. If you are consistent in doing the same hill for your time trials each week then this can really motivate you to improve upon your best times and will help you achieve all the cycling goals you've set yourself.

Finally if your worried about the hills leading to fatigue or overtraining then stay inside on your recovery days. Instead put your bike on an indoor trainer and just pedal lightly. Otherwise careful monitoring of your heartrates can help avoid any unnecessary overload.

Best of luck with your coming events.

Heart rate control

I'm a 20 year old, male, Cat 2, in my 2nd year of racing, and extremely mystified with my current condition. My maximum heart rate is 203 and has been reached at least three times on the bike, twice in the last six months in prologue type events. My resting HR this morning was the lowest it has been since December, at 47.

Based on this, regardless of how useful you consider them, it should be possible to do intervals in the mid-180s. I'm finding that getting my HR up that high, at least in training, to be an exercise in futility. I managed to hit 183 twice in my warm-up, but I felt like I had to dig as deep to get up there as I would in a race. Getting up a third time to begin the first effort wasn't within my means. For what it's worth, I feel good (that is, not fatigued or tired), but am coming off of some racing that I consider to be well below my ability. I've come to terms with getting beaten in races (it happens), but getting beaten by a workout is pretty demoralizing.

Geoff Rapoport
San Diego, CA

Eddie Monnier replies

You didn't indicate what sort of intervals you were doing, but I'll provide a few thoughts nevertheless. First, a low resting HR in and of itself doesn't say anything about your fitness. It could mean you're more fit. But it could also mean that you have a cardiac condition. You have to look at it in the context of other variables. But since you did say you're not feeling fatigued, let's assume that at worst the lower resting HR is neutral.

Second, some individuals are able to realize much higher HR when racing then when training because they get pumped up for the event. This is one of the reasons why, when I derive HR-based training zones, I do so from training-based tests and not races. Additionally, when using HR-based zones, I like to base them off an estimate of lactate threshold HR (LTHR) and not max HR because the former is more responsive to training than the latter. I typically use a 30-minute all-out TT in training. The average HR for the last 20-mins is a good proxy for your LTHR and your average power for the entire 30-mins is a proxy for your lactate threshold power. These are important metrics for any endurance cyclist.

Third, power is a more immediate and objective indicator of intensity than HR and is ideal for interval workouts. Since I know you have a power meter, I would base your interval workouts on power rather than HR (I sometimes use HR as a secondary governor).

Fourth, you might want to review your warm-up procedure. It sounds like you may be going too hard in your warm-up. A good warm-up is important (increases availability of fatty acids for fuel, increases body temperature which has numerous benefits such as opening capillaries to allow more oxygen to get to the muscles, etc.) but you don't want to burn yourself out.

Finally, on one hand you indicate you're extremely happy with your conditioning yet on the other you mention some recent results that you feel are below your ability. If you test periodically (and you should to assess the efficacy of your training program) then you can test to see if your fitness is where it should be. If it's not, you may need some recovery time, like an easy week (or even a week off the bike). Or, it may be time to review your intense workouts. Maybe they're not leading to the expected outcome. If good fitness is evident in the tests, then you need to examine what specifically led to sub-par results. Bad tactics? Diet? Better then expected competition? Simply a few bad days?

Good luck in getting back to the results you deserve!

Which days should I train hard?

I am an Australian B grade rider hoping to become A grade in the near future. I am 26, male, 75kg, and I train 6-7 days a week (normally 400-600km). I do very little specific training (most of my rides are semi-fast group rides), and am starting to realise that I need to train specifically in order to improve.

I have been reading a number of articles about doing VO2 and Lactate Threshold training and it seems to be what I need to do in order to improve.

I normally race on a Sunday, and only get a chance to do long rides on Saturday and Sunday, so which days should I be doing this sort of training on?

Also, on the days when I am not training hard, what sort of training should I be doing (assuming I only have about two hours per day on these days)?

Rory Murray
Perth, Western Australia

Eddie Monnier replies:

Sounds like you've reached an important step in deciding to focus your training. First, I would strongly suggest you do some reading on periodization (eg, The Cyclist's Training Bible by Joe Friel, any of Tudor Bompa's books for endurance athletes, etc.) and/or consider getting a coach to help you make the most of your focused effort. Second, I'll provide some general comments that may be helpful.

You may very well find that you can reduce your hours somewhat when you focus your training. Once you've built a sufficient base of endurance, it can often be maintained for quite a while by doing some occasional long rides. There's no reason you can't schedule your hard workouts during the week, especially when you have up to two hours to ride.

Most high intensity interval type workouts can be done comfortably in 90 minutes, including proper warm-up and cool-down. You could schedule hard workouts, say, Tuesday and Thursday. This would allow you some recovery following a Sunday race as well as allow you to go easy on Friday and short to moderate with a few efforts on Saturday. You will need to plan your schedule in a manner that balances the need for focused, intense training with your own recovery needs. Not everyone can handle three hard rides in a week. And even for those who can, it's important to take periodic rest periods (for example, every fourth week a lighter week) so that you don't end up overtrained.

Also note that it may be counterproductive to race too much. You may find that you will do better in your key races by foregoing some races in lieu of training specific to your big objectives. On day's when you're not training hard, you will either be recovering (fully off the bike or actively on the bike), maintaining endurance, or working on skills (eg, cornering).

Best of luck earning that A upgrade!

Over-trained or under-trained?

I'm a junior cyclist, age 17. I'm about 5ft 6in and weigh about 127lb. I've been cycling for six years now although I've only been really serious about it for the past three years. My question is basically about my training methods. In the past I've done huge mileage as part of my training which hardly ever paid off. This year, however, I've shifted my focus more to VO2 max, and lactate tolerance training. I still do a fair amount of mileage (about 150 miles per week), but I don't seem to be improving.

Here is an example of a typical training week:

  • Monday: 3 x 3 minute intervals at 85%+ max heart rate with 3 minutes recovery between intervals
  • Tuesday: 2 Lactate Threshold Intervals of 20 minutes each at 80-85% max HR with 15 minutes recovery
  • Wednesday: 30-45 minutes at 60-70% max HR
  • Thursday: 30-45 minutes at 60-70% max HR
  • Friday: 30-45 minutes at 60-70% max HR/Day Off
  • Saturday: Race
  • Sunday: 30-45 minutes at 60-70% max HR/Day Off

I do three build weeks with 1 week recovery afterwards. I also try to vary the types of intervals, still focusing on speed rather than endurance, since the races we do are rarely more than 3 hours.

Do you have any suggestions as to why I'm not seeing any improvement or how I can change my approach.

Kevin Kalis
Oudtshoorn, South Africa

Kim Morrow replies:

It is a bit challenging to answer your question as I do not have enough information about you, especially regarding your specific race goals and your strengths/weaknesses as a rider, to name a few. I'm not sure exactly what you mean when you say, "...but I don't seem to be improving." How exactly are you gauging improvement? Is it by race results? Is it by objectively measuring improvements (or lack of improvements) in your speed/power at lactate threshold, for example? It is important to determine an objective, measurable way to gauge improvements.

Let me make a few brief comments on your training schedule. It looks like you have scheduled three out of four consecutive days with quality training sessions (Saturday-Tuesday). I'd suggest spreading these sessions out throughout the week with a bit more recovery between key workouts. In many cases, an athlete will not be well recovered after a Saturday race to attempt another quality session on Monday. And, if you are, then you probably would need to take a recovery day after Monday, instead of doing more quality work on Tuesday.

Also, what are your strengths/weaknesses as a cyclist? I don't see any sprint sessions in your schedule, and if this is an area you need to work on (as many of us need to work on this), then you should schedule a specific training session to improve your sprint abilities. Finally, I have the riders I coach do a specific pre-race ride the day before a race. This includes a few race-pace efforts to prepare them for the race pace intensity the following day.

Hope this helps and keep on riding!

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