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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 December 9, 2003

Advice for young rider
Training zones
Power average calculation

Advice for young rider

I have been riding for about a year now (road riding) and I am 14 years old at the end of this month. At Christmas I am getting a good new Norco aluminium road bike with Shimano 105. I am just wondering about the amount of training I should do to be at a good level for me to race here in Australia. Riding will be my main sport and I am willing to do a lot of training, although I don't want to wear myself out.

Also, what should I be eating after sessions to help me most?

Will W

Dave Palese replies:

It's great to hear that you have found cycling at such a young age. Our sport needs more people your age to get involved, and stay involved.

You question is very broad and to try give you a good answer would be futile. But I will offer some advice.

Before you start focusing on the physical training aspects of the sport, make an effort to learn and understand the harder aspects of cycling - those things that make the real difference between those who make the race and those who just ride in circles for an hour or so - strategies and tactics and skills.

Find a local club a few masters riders who will take you under their wings. Most masters are more than happy to help out new riders. Shadow them on group rides and watch them during their races. See how they move around the field and react to the changing dynamics of the race. How do they use their energies and when do they choose to make the moves.

And don't neglect skills. If someone offers a skills clinic in your area, go to it. Set time aside to practice, on you own or with a mentor, cornering, sprinting and solid paceline skills.

Taking the time now to work on these things will pay big dividends later when you start a more structured training regime. And if you have any further questions or needs, don't hesitate to call on me.

Training zones

How many heart rate zones are there supposed to be? I enjoyed the services of Ric Stern a few years ago - during which I had my best season ever - and we worked on the old 4-zone system. Now, after a few years off, I'm back on the bike and wondering where my simple 4 zones went. I'm reading of 6 zones, 7 zones, and the zone which I thought of as simple recovery is now an active endurance base. I'm constantly changing the zone alarms on my pulse monitor and settings in the software and don't really know what I'm doing anymore. So tell me, if I have a max of 201 (reached sprinting up a hill with some very fit juniors!), what rate should I be at to get my base endurance foundation? It seems the threshold levels are about the same, it's just that the goal posts regarding aerobic conditioning have moved. Or should I just abandon heart rates and ask Santa for a power meter?

Graham Springett
Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia

Eddie Monnier replies:

There are as many zones as needed to execute whatever training program you're following. I've seen effective programs designed with as few as 3 zones and some with many more. Remember, the zones are guidelines (really, proxies) for intensity. Personally, I advocate basing zones off lactate threshold heart rate rather than HRmax, since the latter doesn't generally change with changes in fitness. And as to your question about at what zone should you complete your base endurance, that depends on a number of things like where you are in your training, the length of the ride, how long you've been training, etc. Generally, however, I believe that many people complete their endurance rides at an intensity more appropriate for active recovery. Since I use the Friel HR zones for governing endurance rides, I typically like to see a good chunk of time spent in upper zone-1 (~ top 10 beats) and zone-2.

In any event, asking Santa for a power meter might be a very good idea. But even the best tool in the world is useless in the hands of somebody who has no idea what to do with it. If you're not the type to do ample reading and research on your own so that you can effectively use a PM, then your money would be better spent on hiring a coach again (sounds like Ric did you right!)

And even if you do get a PM, I don't advocate disregarding HR (though some coaches do). I like to use power, rating of perceived exertion, and HR, as each has its own strengths and weaknesses. See my short article, Adding a Third Dimension to Your Training ~ Training with Power.

Brett Aitken replies:

I'm a big fan of using 3 heart rate zones to keep things simple for the athlete with the upper threshold normally in the range of 85-92 percent of Max HR and the lower threshold around 75 percent. Also some heartrate monitors only record time spent in 3 different zones as opposed to multiple zones and it's easier to extract the data directly from the watch if you don't want to download all the time.

A good early season base should involve about 8 weeks in the two lower zones with Z1 making up about 70 to 80 percent of total time. After 8 weeks, Z3 training (lactate threshold) should slowly start to be incorporated into the programme.

In terms of utilizing a power meter or heartrate monitor they both have their place. I find heartrate data to be most beneficial with long endurance based rides for detecting the difficulty rating of a training ride. Power data is more beneficial with the incorporation of specific types of efforts (eg. intervals). As these efforts get shorter power meters become even more important and any type of effort which is under 3min duration a heartrate monitor is almost useless.

Dave Palese replies:

Zone training and how the zones are defined is a constantly changing subject. Plus, 6 coaches will have six different answers. The key using zone training effectively is to understand the thought behind the system.

Zone training is designed to help give the athlete some insight into the state that his or her body is in at a particular moment in time, under a particular amount of stress.

Although many zone systems have up to as many as 8 zones specified (according to heart rate, rate of perceived exertion, and power) the body really only functions in two states; aerobic or anaerobic.

The additional zones on either side of the line separating these two states are there just as an added level of control for particular types of training.

So what does this all mean?

You said that your Threshold numbers were similar to what you had used previously. In the long run, that is all that really matters. As long as your zones are structured such that you are staying aerobic when you should be aerobic, but guide you to an anaerobic state when needed, then all is good in the world.

Brett makes good points with regard to using a heart rate monitor vs. a power meter and the best application of the latter.

His description of the 3 zone system illustrates my points pretty clearly.

I hope some of this helps clear up an confusion.

Power average calculation

If I want to ride a 51:00 40k,(current PR is 54:47), how would I go about calculating average watts to get to that point? That PR was achieved with no quantifiable training practice. To drop off 3:47 seconds, I want to train more specifically. What speed would I have to carry to achieve that? My VO2 max reading is over 89, so I have no doubts about my ability to do this.

David Reed

Lombard, IL, USA

Georg Ladig replies:

You would need roughly 20 percent more power to cut 3:47 away! You can do the math more precisely by entering your personal data in a tool on the 2peak website. Go to and enter your data. You need to convert time to speed before calculating the power. In your example 51:00 means an average of 47.058 km/h compared to 43.81 (54:47). The large difference in power is due to the exponential behaviour of the air drag. You can also play around with bike components to study the effects of aero gadgets or superlight tubulars.

A rise of 20 percent in power is very difficult to achieve, even if your training was not highly specialized before. It basically means to rise power at lactate threshold by 20 percent! In general you need to work on your position as well to make steps like this. Perfect aerodynamics are the main key too high speeds.

Training: Well, it's about time trialing. You need to train close to LT after establishing base endurance and you also need to train above LT to push things forward. Start with short intervals at race target speed e.g. 3 x 2 minutes and rise the length of the intervals slightly to 3 or 4 minutes over time - this is peak power training above your current LT. On the other hand ride longer intervals (4-10 minutes) at your current LT and prolong the intervals over time and shorten the time between intervals in order to keep the load for 50 minutes.


I am a triathlete and an avid reader of cycling news. The concept of periodization has come to dominate training literature and I have a short question.

What experiences or experiments have done with training done without periodization, but with a training program designed to work each energy system during the week (long slow ride, intense LT session, climbing repeats.) I have heard that it is difficult to develop the aerobic system while developing the anaerobic system, is this true?

Secondly, has anyone experimented with shorter training cycles that are not designed to develop a peak? For example, 1 month base, 1 month build, repeat.

I am a curious student of the literature so any comments would be appreciated.

Mark Ratzburg

Dave Palese replies:

The weekly format that you describe (long slow ride, intense LT session, climbing repeats) sounds like a "LeMond-esque" weekly training format. Such a system is widely used and can be very beneficial. I have used this format in the past some riders. I found that at times it didn't not allow for sufficient recovery between hard sessions.

With regard to developing the aerobic system while developing the anaerobic system, that questions is kinda loaded. The anaerobic system is a broad term. Efforts that fall under that heading can be anywhere from 10 seconds to 7 minutes. Recovery time from the different session can take from 12 to 72 hours. So the statement "it is difficult to develop the aerobic system while developing the anaerobic system" can be explained to read, "during certain training periods, a focus should be put on developing the aerobic system, while focusing on the anaerobic system during other times".

There are many ways to structure training cycles. However, the one you have offered as an example (1 month base, 1 month build, repeat...), in my humble opinion, does not support the idea of periodization.

A periodization plan is designed around goals and targets (either specific events, or shorts periods of time).

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