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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.

A big welcome this week to two new members of our panel of coaches and fitness experts. Georg Ladig and Benoit Nave are the Numeric Mastermind and Coach/Nutritionist respectively at, a new training website that provides a daily updated, dynamic, personal training plan to help you train systematically like a pro and get in peak shape for the key events of your season. The objective is simple: to allocate your time budget ideally to calculate your individual path to peak performance.

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 September 12, 2003

Small female, want to climb like Heras!
Non-interval riding on interval days
Heart Rate changes
Losing muscle

Small female, want to climb like Heras!

I am a small-build female: approximately 5ft 8in, 105lb, 28 years old. I have been a distance runner, but am now (thanks to my partner) have gotten into road cycling. I don't race. Average ride distance outside is 45-70 miles. Inside, I like to use the trainer for 60-90 minutes. I have great cardiovascular endurance. Resting heart rate 40bpm. I recover quickly from exertion. Ride distance is not an issue... but climbs are. I just CAN'T climb. I have the lungs and the heart, just not the legs. Everyone says that as small as I am, I should be a great climber. But I don't have the power. Is weight lifting the answer? How do I keep from crawling like a snail up the climbs? (By the way I'm also a pretty strict vegetarian).

Katherine Ferrell

Kim Morrow replies:

It may take you a bit of time to develop the cycling specific muscles which will propel you more easily up the climbs. And, if you are still running as part of your regular training, this may have a negative effective on your power output for cycling. I'd recommend a combination of winter resistance training in the gym, and on-the-bike specific force work.

You mentioned being 5ft 8in and 105 pounds. When I raced professionally, I was what most people would consider a "climber", and was 125 pounds @ 5ft 6in. I found that if got too much lighter, then I began to sacrifice my strength and power for racing. You may consider hooking up with a nutritionist who can assist you with increasing your lean muscle mass, while still maintaining the nutritional goals you desire.

Non-interval riding on interval days

I have been reading Joel Friel's training bible and structuring my workouts accordingly. However, there is one question I can't find an answer to. If I am doing intervals which may take up an hour, recovery and hard period, but I am scheduled to ride for say 2 1/2 hours that day, at what intensity should the rest of the ride be ridden?

Rich Weston

Georg Ladig replies:

My advice would be to stay in the base endurance zone for the rest of the workout - with a tendency towards the lower end of the range. Spin easy. There are several ways to define base endurance. In terms of heart rate it means 60-75 percent of your maximum heart rate or - more precise - 70-85 percent of your heart rate at the Lactate Threshold. If you define your training intensity by power then stay between 50 and 75 percent of your power at Lactate Threshold.

Heart Rate changes

I am perplexed by changes in my average heart rates on identical rides only one week apart.

I am a 29 year old male cyclist who has been riding competitively since December 02. At present I am riding C grade club crits and TT's in Sydney. I do about 150-200km per week.

Every Sunday I go on a 90km bunch ride with the club and the last couple of weekends have seen me experience varying heart rates (and thus performance) that I cannot explain.

The weekend before - my average heart rate over the 90km at average 35km/hr was low 150's yet last weekend was high 160's with a similar average speed. The conditions were not measurably different and my time on the front of the bunch was no more or less prominent. The first ride I felt comfortable and easy the whole way - yet the second - uncomfortable and fatigued from the outset.

I am wondering what factors can affect average heart rates as dramatically as this (If 20 beats per minute is dramatic)?

James Dalton

Georg Ladig replies:

There are a couple of possible effects which makes it a bit difficult to guess. In general a variation of +/- 5 beats at exactly the same power output is no surprise but a difference of almost 20 beats is rather unusual. The power output for the same speed may vary due to winds etc. - but you say that the conditions seemed to be the same.

So here are possible reasons for the deviation:

Too much food before training
Upcoming disease (hopefully not)
A bad day

In general I would give you the advice to abandon these group rides for the next two weeks and to ride at lower intensities. Compared to your total mileage the intense part seems to be too high. Group rides are fine to give some extra motivation, to push harder and to have some fun, but usually they are not very good training and ridden at a medium speed: too fast for normal training and not fast enough to build real strength. Try to do base endurance work during the next weeks and see how things develop, when you join the group again. If you still feel bad, don't go with the bunch but set your own pace instead. Base endurance work should be by far the biggest part of your training (80+ percent) and as a rule of thumb the base endurance zone is between 70 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate - you'll find more precise info at our website.


I'm 1.97m tall, 100kg and 47 years old. How do I keep up with the pack on the hills? It's always a struggle either on the social ride or race day.

Bob Travis
New Zealand

Georg Ladig replies:

Your climbing ability is limited by your power to weight ratio (Watt/kg). To improve you can either try to develop more power, reduce your weight or both. It would be interesting to know your power output and your body fat percentage. Three Watts per kilogram should be plenty to stay with the pack at a social ride. (Pros are riding at 5-7 W/kg.) In your case this would require you to produce 300 Watts on average for your 100 kg. If you are very muscular it's likely that you can produce this power at your weight.

Some special hill training (intervals) will definitely help. You can test your power output by climbing a hill: Look for a steep hill with a grade of at least 7 percent, measure your system weight (your weight plus bike) and measure the time to climb a certain altitude - let's say 200 metres. Than you can calculate:

mass * 9.81 * vertical meters climbed / time (seconds) = Power (Watt).

You'll find a more sophisticated tool for this calculation at our website.

Losing muscle

I've become a huge cycling fanatic in the last year or two and like most cyclists I've found that the weight does matter.

Around the age of nineteen I decided to give up smoking and to get in shape. I've always been a bigger guy but I soon trained for a half-marathon, lifted weights and dabbled in bodybuilding even. Fast forward a few years and I'm well on my way to running my first marathon at 7:30 per mile pace, but I still weigh 175lb and I'm 5ft 6in. I'm around 8-12 percent body fat (yes it's been tested), and I wondering what the best way to lose this muscle that I've built up over these six or seven years that I've been lifting.

I have quit lifting weights as the muscle seems to stick to my body. The climbs are really a matter of weight and while I do have all the power I imagine I need, the weight to power ratio seems to be the key to racing faster and recovering easier. I do indulge in sweets, but my meals are healthy.

I am a beginner racer (category 4) and am hoping to do cyclo-cross, some road and definitely track, and since I blew out my knee (acl replacement and meniscus tear almost 2 years ago) before I got to run that awesome marathon I can't run as much and cycling is my main training.

Please help me out as I haven't found anyone that doesn't shake their head and say "Why do you want to lose weight, you look fine!", but they just don't understand! Discipline is one of my better assets and I believe that there is something I can do? Any help with diet, or training tips would be greatly appreciated!


Ric Stern replies:

Good to see you're now active in the best sport! At 8 to 12 percent body fat, it'll be hard for you to lose much fat, as you are obviously already very lean. The only way to loose the 'excess' muscle that you have is to not use those muscles where you want to lose from (or more specifically not train them). If, for e.g., you were wanting to lose muscle from your upper body, then don't engage in any training such as weights, or gym work etc. Eventually the muscle will disappear.

In the meantime you can always aim to increase the power that you can sustain when cycling, as this will increase your hills ability and flat riding too.

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