Fitness questions and answers for February 12, 2004

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at...

Form & Fitness Q & A

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

Carrie Cheadle, MA (www.carriecheadle.com) 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 (www.davepalese.com) 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 (www.trainright.com) 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 (www.velo-fit.com) 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 (www.physiopt.com) 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 (www.cyclefitcentre.com) 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 (www.wholeathlete.com) 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 (www.wenzelcoaching.com) 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 (www.wenzelcoaching.com) is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.

Steve Owens (www.coloradopremiertraining.com) is a USA Cycling certified coach, exercise physiologist and owner of Colorado Premier Training. Steve has worked with both the United States Olympic Committee and Guatemalan Olympic Committee as an Exercise Physiologist. He holds a B.S. in Exercise & Sports Science and currently works with multiple national champions, professionals and World Cup level cyclists.

Through his highly customized online training format, Steve and his handpicked team of coaches at Colorado Premier Training work with cyclists and multisport athletes around the world.

Brett Aitken (www.cycle2max.com) is a Sydney Olympic gold medalist. Born in Adelaide, Australia in 1971, Brett got into cycling through the cult sport of cycle speedway before crossing over into road and track racing. Since winning Olympic gold in the Madison with Scott McGrory, Brett has been working on his coaching business and his www.cycle2max.com website.

Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com) 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 (www.cyclecoach.com) 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.

Michael Smartt (www.cyclecoach.com) is an Associate Coach with Richard Stern Training. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology and is USA Cycling Expert Coach. Michael has been a competitive cyclist for over 10 years and has experience coaching road and off-road cyclists, triathletes and Paralympians.

Kim Morrow (www.elitefitcoach.com) 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 MyEnduranceCoach.com, 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.

Mucus, mucus, mucus
Nutrition and hydration for centuries
Power output for track racing
Prostatitis/pelvic myoneuropathy
Injury recovery
Realistic weight loss
Scheduling
Whey vs. soy protein
Gym vs Turbo

Mucus, mucus, mucus

I am a 29 year old male, 5' 10", 155 lbs. I have been riding regularly and racing cat 5 for almost exactly one year. I rode just over 5,000 miles last year and competed in seven races. During my most intense training periods last summer I was riding in two to three high intensity group rides a week and doing about 150-200 miles. My solo rides tend to be about 30-40 miles of flat road at about 20-22 mph. I do not plan to advance past cat 4 and I am not interested in making my rides super structured, mainly I am out to have a pleasant ride and get a killer workout. It is an absolute blast.

I have one question. After very intense efforts I get a bunch of mucus build up at the back of my throat. The stuff is extremely viscous and takes a good deal of hacking to get out. This affects me during the latter half of races and training rides. Is this just a symptom of not being trained enough for the effort or some kind of allergic/food reaction? (I do not have allergies that I know of but my father does.) I seem to be the only one out there hacking up a lung.

John Lastoskie
Sacramento California

Andrew Grant replies:

The first point is that the mucous membrane of the lungs and upper respiratory system is designed to protect the lungs from damage. The mucous membrane consists of a lot of water. It is important to ensure that you maintain adequate hydration to maintain a thin mucous functioning membrane. There are a number of possibilities of the cause of the mucous, these include a residual throat infection or residual lung infection. The colour of the mucous will be a green / yellow colour.

Another possible cause of the mucous is due to regurgitating stomach acid due to a weak stomach sphincter and then breathing the micro-aspirated acid into the lungs. This creates a thick white mucous. I have seen this condition on a number of occasions, without any gastric symptoms.

Both conditions are treatable using herbal medicine.

Nutrition and hydration for centuries

I am a 36 year old 170 pound male recreational cyclist who enjoys centuries with an eye toward cross-state rides (I live in FL). I do my long ride on Saturdays and a recovery on Sunday. On two other days during the week I work through the "Suffer-O-Rama" spinerval CD for power/strength training. Twice a week I work upper body on a home gym.
I am preparing for my second century in Feb. and wanted to get some basic guidelines for nutrition and hydration during the event. Last year I completed my first century but feel like my nutrition probably let me down in the last 30 miles. My avg. speed dropped from 18 to 10 or 12 and it was all I could do to keep turning over. T

he last minute advice I received from some bike shop buds was to simply pack 6-9 gels, eat one just before starting, then one every 45 minutes or so with half a bottle of water. This seemed to work well until 75 miles or so. It probably did not help that I somehow missed 1, possibly 2 of the water stops and ran out twice pedaling about 10 miles to the next water. In any case I'd like to get some basic, dependable guidelines for nutrition and hydration during the event. I'm an ex competitive swimmer and know what works there but cycling seems to place a different set of demands on the body. Thanks for any reply.

'flroadburn'

Andrew Grant replies:

For endurance events your carbohydrate requirements are 60 grams per hour. 6-9 gels are not enough.

I prefer Maxim Original. Make one bottle with Maxim and one with water. Carry the additional Maxim in plastic vitamin contains and make it up as you go along by adding water.

Test all of the nutrition prior to race day.

Eating for what you are about to do

Pre-training Meal
Eat a small amount of raw or cooked oats. 1/3 cup is usually sufficient.
The amount eaten should not cause any gastric distress during the following training session. This allows for a steady supply of glucose during training / racing.

Eating for what you are doing

Carbohydrate Usage During Training
Three scoops (60gm) of MaximT, AchieveTor Poly-JouleT per hour for any rides 40km or over.
Highly trained athletes may use less
Carry one bottle of water and one bottle of Maxim.
Carry a three scoop refill container of Maxim on long rides. 60km +

Solid Food on Long Rides - 100km+

Bread and bread rolls for addition carbohydrate supply.
Bagels for additional carbohydrate supply with a high Glyceamic Index.

Fast recovery: eating for what you have done

Post-training eating for fast recovery and optimal immune function

Eat boiled Calrose White Rice within 30mins of finishing training. This is when the body's insulin system is most receptive to making glycogen.
Cook one cup (dry weight) of Calrose white rice and eat as much as possible, without causing gastric discomfort.
A common objection is that the rice doesn't taste. Add soy or sweet chilli sauce, or can be cooked into rice pudding
Drink a large glass of water.
Have a protein shake that provides 30gm - 40gm of protein with the rice. This increases the amount of glucose stored in the muscle as glycogen.

Hydration Requirement

Drink 200ml - 400ml fifteen minutes before the start. This will not have time to pass and urine production is drastically reduced during exercise. This will have you start the event slightly hyper-hydrated which is a benefit during an endurance event.
During the event, one 750ml bottle every 30km - 40km (250ml every 20mins)
Larger volumes of fluid have a faster gastric emptying times. Fluid should be room
temperature to save the body using energy to bring it up to body temperature for use.
Extremely cold drinks will cause reflex dumping in the stomach and intestinal cramping.

For Additional Hydration Try Glycerol loading. Test this out of competition before using in an event as it is sickly sweet and may have laxative effect.

Supplementing with glycerin or glycerol in water 40mins before the start can spare glucoseand glycogen stores in the first part of the race.
Formula for use of glycerin / glycerol is 1.2gm per kilo of body weight in one litre of water.
It also helps to hyper-hydrate.

Power output for track racing

I am currently training for the track. My discipline is the 500m tt. To date my fastest time is 40.42 over 500m and this was achieved in July 2003 in Aigle. I am currently training for trials to qualify for the World Cup in Manchester, the qualifying time is 36.15. My question is what power/wattage do i need to be producing to achieve this result.

Gillian McDarby
Ireland

Steve Owens replies:

There are so many factors that you have to take into consideration when trying to figure this out. Rolling resistance, wind resistance, acceleration, air density... the list goes on and on! I believe this is a good way to objectively train for the 500M time trial. If you have a power meter, you'll be able to come up with a fairly accurate answer of what your average power and acceleration will need to be to achieve a 36.15 second time for the 500M TT. Assuming the following information, I've come up with an answer for you: You're at sea level. You and your bike collectively weigh 75kg. Your effective frontal area is 0.5 square meters (normal). A normal drag coefficient of 0.5. Standing start. A flat, concrete track (coefficient of rolling resistance = 0.002). You'll have to average 785 Watts over the 36.15 seconds.

If any of these are different, let me know and I'll rework the numbers. Or, if you can give me more detailed information like Maximum power, the time at which power is maximum and I can give you a slightly better answer. It's a very complicated question to come up with an exact answer, but we can pretty close if we have a lot of information.

Ric Stern replies

I don't believe it's possible to work out your power from the data given, as there are too many unknowns, e.g., your size, the power you are currently producing, temperature of the track, type of track, air density, bike and equipment used, position on the bike, etc.

Estimations can be made at www.analyticcycling.com, however, these will be estimations and could be wildly inaccurate depending on how well you know the above answers. When you try to extrapolate any further answers (i.e. power for 36 secs) the errors are going to be further compounded.

The only way to get a good answer is to record some actual data, (probably) on an accurately calibrated SRM track crank on an indoor track (Manchester, Newport?) to find out what power you are currently producing at specific times/velocities. Once you have some baseline figures you can then start to do some modelling and work out the power required to travel at a faster velocity.

Hope that helps, and if I can help further please do not hesitate to contact me.

Prostatitis/pelvic myoneuropathy

I am 62, retired and have been cycling seriously for 15 years , previously a runner. 16 months ago I was diagnosed as having chronic prostatitis and have spent the time since trying to find a cure enough to let me get back on my bike. I have been proscribed lengthy anti biotic courses, alpha blockers, cystoscopy, prostate massage, by the urology consultant I was referred to by my GP all of which had reduced the symptoms substantially but not enough to ride my bike without stirring things up again. I asked for a second opinion and have been referred to a consultant at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge who is particularly specialising in prostate and allied problems.

After many blood and urine tests and an ultrasound scan of the prostate the good news seems to be that it is very unlikely to be cancer. Subject to the final tests becoming available, shortly ,I have been told that in the consultant's opinion it is more than likely to be pelvic myoneuropathy. This is where as a result of trauma (cycling?) of some kind, the bundle of fibres within the pelvic floor area muscles have become super sensitised leading to the nerve endings overproducing neuropeptides leading to pathology. Powerful immune defense cells are stimulated which then produce a range of chemicals which cause similar symptoms to prostatitis.

I am likely , if this diagnosis is confirmed, to be referred to another specialist who is looking into ways of using new generation drugs to calm down the immune defense cells. I have been told with regard to cycling that in his opinion, he sees a lot of cyclists, the problem is not, as one would expect ,necessarily caused directly by cycling. further that riding my bike is very much up to me on a suck it and see basis. I have been doing 45 minutes three times a week on my static trainer together with running three times a week. I have also done the odd ride for an hour on both my road and mountain bikes. I get the odd twinge while riding and for up to a day afterwards some discomfort in the urethra area. I have experimented with different saddles, at present a Selle Italia SLK, very expensive anatomically designed Assos shorts and even a suspension seatpost on my road bike to cut down the shocks and vibration of riding on our appalling roads.

Do you have any information, suggestions, knowledge, on this problem, I am told it is becoming increasingly common, especially among men between 25 and 45.

Simon C.
Norfolk UK

Scott Saifer replies:

This is pretty obvious and I hope you've already tried it, but have you tilted the nose of the saddle down to relieve pressure in the sensitive area? Some cyclists seem to have a bias in favor of a level saddle, no matter how much pain it causes. I like to have the majority of the saddle contact pressure on the sit bones (Ischial tuberosities) with just a little near the pubic bone. For some riders this means keeping the saddle level, but for the majority it means tilting the nose down a few degrees. If you feel weight increasing on your hands, you've gone too far. If you are in an extreme, low-handlebar racing position, you might also consider raising the bars a bit.

I know this particular diagnosis has been popular for the last few years, but among the several hundred riders I've coached I've never seen a case, so it either is not that common or is avoidable with proper bike fit.

Injury recovery

I have been an avid cyclist since 1978. I am now forty years of age and have been forced by a hip injury to stay off of the bike. I have been plagued with an unbelievable soreness/pain on the upper outside of my hip. If I were to ride, I would be lucky to walk the next day. I ignored the problem for about 45 days, and I recently broke down and went to the doctor. My family doctor in turn sent me to an orthopedic doctor last week. After running an MRI, he diagnosed me with bursitis. He shot the area with cortisone, prescribed celebrex, and rehab. I will return to see him in 30 days. The hip is now feeling better. The question that I have is what can I do to get myself back on the bike? I know whatever it is, it will be a slow process. Any advice would be appreciated.

Jeff Vincent

Dave Fleckenstein replies:

From your report, it sounds like you have trochanteric bursitis, certainly not an usual problem for cyclists. The bursa (and we have many in our bodies) are fluid filled sacs, typically located near joints, that serve as buffers between two moving surfaces. In the case of the hip, the trochanteric bursa functions to prevent the tendons and muscles of the hip (including the hip abductors and iliotibial band) from rubbing on the greater trochanter (that knob at the top of your femur). The bursa typically becomes irritated in one of two ways, contusion or overuse (excessive friction). It is common for cyclists to experience both injuries. When cyclists crash, they frequently fall on their hips and injure the bursa through direct trauma or contusion. I have seen cyclists go weeks and months requiring intermittent draining of this injury. Rest, ice, ultrasound, and massage are appropriate ways of dealing with this type of injury.

I am assuming that, since no crash was mentioned, you have fallen victim to overuse. I will caution you sternly - while the injection and anti-inflammatory medications have reduced your pain, they have not addressed what irritated your hip in the first place. Another way of putting this is that the drugs have addressed the victim, but not the culprit. If you do not determine what the irritant (culprit) is, you run the risk of having this problem return quickly. If you made a simple training error and had a sudden significant increase in your workout (either mileage or intensity) than you would probably do fine to slowly return to riding. If, however, the injury came on without any real insult, I would examine a number of factors before returning to full riding.

First, how is your alignment? Excess rotation, particularly internal rotation of the leg, during the pedal stroke is a primary culprit. As the hip rotates inward, the tendons surrounding the trochanteric bursa become stretched and rub the bursa. Over thousand of pedal strokes, this friction causes irritation of the bursa (much like a blister forming) This is typically caused by excessive pronation (inward rolling of the arch) and can be corrected (or at least improved) with good over-the-counter orthotics. Second, how is your flexibility? Excessive tightness, particularly of the iliotibial band, can cause excessive friction at the bursa. Finally, and most overlooked, how is your hip strength? The hip abductors, particularly the gluteus medius, play an extremely important role in stabilizing the hip joint. I would recommend having those three components analyzed by a sports medicine professional - a physical therapist, sports chiropractor, or kinesiologist should all be able to give you some insight.

Realistic weight loss

First of all, thanks for doing this section. I always find it interesting to read even if the question/problem isn't something I've experienced.

I'm a 57 year old male 6'2", 209 lbs. I did my last Iron Man Triathlon 20 years ago and last season decided to get back into shape. I enjoyed some success in local bike races, triathlons and duathlons in the old guys' divisions. This year I'm starting out a little further ahead and need/want to drop some more weight because I've caught the competitive bug again. I know some of you do not believe in weight training but as a chief of police I need to set an example, not just aerobically, so I can't turn myself into a stick man.

Here's my dilemma and I'm sure it's one many struggle with. How much weight can you expect to lose and still maintain the energy to train? I intend to have my body fat tested hydrostatically in order to set a more realistic goal but when I'm able to exercise some will power and diet, I don't have the energy to do much more than just go through the motions (heart rate 130 compared to 150 with a measured max of 182). If I eat a balanced diet, I can do more volume and quality but don't drop very fast.

I try to bike (or spin if it's too icy) and run 4 times/week each, lift weights with high reps and do body weight exercises (pushups, pull-ups etc.) twice/week and swim 2 or 3 times/week. Closer to the season I will do longer rides and just one workout/day some days. By losing a pound a week I could be down twenty pounds by June 1 and be 10 pounds lighter than last year which I'm sure would make a difference. I was about 180 and about 10% body fat 15-20 years ago when I last competed.

Is it more important to train hard or be lighter? In other words should I be more concerned with the workouts or the weight loss and is there compromise in there somewhere? I read somewhere that for every 5 lbs. less you weigh, you can travel about 3 minutes faster over 5k on the bike. What is a realistic body fat percentage to strive for and at what rate should you try to get there?

Ron Tussing
USA

Scott Saifer replies:

I've had several dozen clients lose weight as an important element of their preparation for bike racing. My experience is that most but not all riders can lose one pound per week consistently while maintaining training energy. I've yet to have a client who couldn't lose 1/2 pound per week and maintain energy. There seems to be a connection between available weight to lose and the safe loss rate. That is, the more weight you have to lose, the more rapidly you can lose. Of course as you approach your target weight you have to slow down. At your current height and weight, I'd guess that you can probably lose 1-2 pounds per week for the first 10 pounds or so, and then one pound per week after that.

Whether weight loss will improve your competitive ability depends in part on what sort of events you'll be doing. If you'll be running, being lighter will make you faster. If you'll be cycling, then weight loss will only help if you plan to race on hills. I had a client who was 6'2", 235 pounds who won flat criteriums in the senior 1/2/pro events just by virtue of his killer sprint. Of course he didn't bother to show up for road races.

Each athlete may have a minimum body fat percentage to stay healthy. Most masters riders can get down to 8% or even lower safely. Many athletes get sick from losing weight to quickly, which implies that they are not consuming adequate fuel for workouts and recovery, and mistakenly think that they have gotten sick from getting too light. Gradual weight loss is key to maintaining health and energy.

One last note: Body weight is much more important than body fat percentage in determining success on hills. A 220 pound body builder with 2% fat won't climb much better than a 220 pound couch potato with 20% fat of the same height.

Scheduling

I am a collegiate cycling racer getting ready for the upcoming seaon. I planned my training using the Joe Friel Book and am now in Build 1. The problem I have run into is that i based my plan on last years schedule and now the conference championships, hopefully my first peak and A race, is a week later than scheduled. I had scheduled after build 2 period to do two weeks of peak and then a race week before conference chamionships. Any suggestions on what I should do with my extra week. Thanks,

Richard Weston

Eddie Monnier replies:

Without knowing a lot more about you, you might consider inserting an additional Build week before your taper. You could do this by repeating Week 1, 2 or 3) to create a five week Build 1 or Build 2 (eg, Build 1...Wk1, Wk2, Wk2, Wk3, Wk4), provided you've previously handled four week builds without being too overreached. If you're unsure, I'd add it to Build 1 because if you become too overreached you have time to address it before your A event. Either way, it's probably a good idea to insert a few extra rest days between the "doubled up" weeks.

Good luck with your peak!

Whey vs. soy protein

I am a competitive cyclist, who has an unfortunate genetic make up of naturally high cholesterol. Is there a distinct advantage to whey protein, which is high in cholesterol compared to soy protein for recovery?

Mark Miklosovic

Andrew Grant replies:

Whey protein is rich in cysteine which is a precursor to glutathione. Glutathione is the most potent antioxidant in the body and has a noticeable effect on recovery. I have used both soy and whey protein, and the whey is way better. (Excuse the pun)

With regard to your cholesterol, it can be lowered naturally by using a soluble fibre and a herbal liver tonic that contains Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus). Psyllium is the best soluble fibre to use. One heaped teaspoon with breakfast and plenty of water and the liver tonic. How it works is, the liver tonic stimulates the release bile from the liver. The bile is usually recycled and reabsorbed in the intestine, but it binds to the soluble fibre and passed in the stool. Cholesterol is the precursor to bile. The body uses cholesterol to make new bile and so reduces your cholesterol levels.

Eddie Monnier replies:

If you are otherwise eating a reasonably healthy diet and exercising at typical levels for a competitive cyclist, I doubt dietary measures will help your cholesterol levels much, if at all. Fortunately, for people like you and me, there are cholesterol lowering medicines which readily help us. While you might try some of the dietary approaches, you should certainly follow the advice of your doctor.

Gym vs Turbo

I'm 32 years old and I race competitively in Ireland at high amateur
level.

My training routine is as follows. During the winter I train in the gym week nights (two - three times per week) and build up cycling miles at weekends (i.e Saturday 3- 4 hrs & Sunday 4+ hours)

My question is, during my winter training, specifically at weekends and at times when weather is very bad, would I benefit most from a) attending the gym or b) using my turbo trainer?

Could you advise on which of the above would be of most benefit to me or alternatively recommend further suggestions for training.

Stuart Gibson
Ireland

Ric Stern replies:

For riders who are well trained and above, gym work may be of no use or even detrimental for endurance cyclists (by gym work I'm assuming that you mean weight training, cross training 'aerobically' i.e. not cycling, and 'circuit' type training).

In trained riders strength (the maximal force or tension generated by a muscle or group of muscles) is not a limiting factor in endurance cycling performance (ECP), except in a few specific cases (e.g., very old people, you suffer from a functional disability). The force that can be generated on the pedals is generally quite low (it's highest doing an all-out standing start), and most people can generate the force that an elite Tour de France rider could produce (however, i would add that you should really only compare age, gender, and mass matched individuals). For example, it's known that when climbing an (e.g.) Alpine pass top (male) riders will produce 400 W ( 6 W/kg) - most males (and many females) will be able to produce this power -- however, the difference is that at that power non-elite riders will only be able to sustain that power for a short period of time (e.g. from seconds to several plus minutes), whereas the pro's are doing this for about an hour.

As (virtually) everyone can produce the required forces for ECP, we need to train the ability to sustain efforts for longer periods of time, which can only be trained on the bike. As we can meet or exceed the power and force required in ECP, increasing strength through gym work, will generally not be beneficial. Strength training will often cause an increase in muscle cross sectional area, and this will lead to a relative decrease in mitochondrial and capillary density which will cause a decrease in aerobic power, furthermore, as hypertrophy occurs there will be a mass gain, which will slow you uphill.

Thus, assuming that you can cycle during the week on (e.g.) an indoor trainer and outside at the weekend then this is where you want to focus your training. If on the other hand you can't do any cycling - then gym work or any exercise will be beneficial to your fitness.

As for actual training suggestions, these would be highly dependent on time available, goals, fitness, etc. and would be worth contacting a coach to help you plan your training, such as myself or one of the others on the list at cyclingnews.com.

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