Fitness questions and answers for July 11, 2005

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. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

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.

Steve Owens ( 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 ( 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 website.

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.

Michael Smartt ( 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 ( 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.

Carbs and Caffeine
Nutrition for fat loss and muscle gain
Electrolytes and hydration
Salt, fatigue and getting too skinny
Blood tests results and anaemia
Collapsed lung and pneumonia

Carbs and Caffeine

I'm a 39 year-old endurance hill climber. I've been doing this for 20 years. The last two years I've had trouble with getting into an "up-and-down" bonk cycle when riding more than 70-80 miles. The only cure I've found (and the only way I'm able to finish my long rides without severe suffering) is by consuming a water bottle full of brewed tea (non-decaf).

Once I do this, the glycemic peaks and valleys largely go away. So my question is what is the tea doing for me that my body seems to be unable to do on its own? Is the tea promoting better use of fatty acids? I know this is the trick in endurance athletics.

For the record, my main riding foods are Cliff Bars, Power Bar Harvest bars and more recently Odwalla Protein Plus bars with Cliff Shot as a gel. I've favoured these over maltodextrin-based foods because of the lower GI of brown rice syrup. I have hypoglycemia and avoid sugars and refined flours when not riding. Thanks for your input.

Jim Strange

Carson City, NV

Pam Hinton Replies

Hi Jim,

Nutrition for fat loss and muscle gain


Your discussions about energy in versus energy out make a lot of sense for losing fat. What about gaining or losing muscle? Can you build muscle - evidenced by weight gain - while eating at a caloric deficit? Racers lose both muscle and fat over the season, but what about weekend warriors and recreational cyclists?

Here's a little about my background, which probably isn't necessary to print. I am a 40 year old female with about 15 years of road riding experience. After a couple of years in a sedentary, high-stress lifestyle, I'm now riding about 12 - 15 hours a week and carefully watching my food intake.

I've also been doing other summer activities such as hiking and heavy yard work. I'm losing body fat, and my leg muscles are regaining density. I have genetically bulky leg muscles that build up easily, but I don't want to gain weight in any form. My weight is generally dropping, but with curious fluctuations. Could I be adding muscle, or is it more likely that I need to keep adjusting my diet?

Lauren Dundon

Denver, Colorado

Pam Hinton Replies

Hi Lauren,

Electrolytes and hydration


I have several related questions:

How much can one "pre-hydrate"? Is there a limit to how much water you can take in, pre-effort, without flushing out your electrolytes? Will this cause a corresponding danger of going into a race or other hard effort on the verge of hyponatremia?

Can you electrolyte load? Take in excess salt, potassium, etc. in anticipation of a large loss during a race or hard effort? Are electrolyte supplements such as Endurolytes a good way to get them either in advance or to replace those lost?

In order to maximize both hydration and electrolyte stores. Would it be strategic to be excessively hydrated a day before a race then load up on electrolytes while leveling off on fluid intake?

Dean Hargett

Columbia, MO

Pam Hinton Replies

Hi Dean,

Salt, fatigue and getting too skinny


I am a 30 year old rider (MTB/Road mostly), 1.62m tall, 58.5kg in weight, 22.2 BMI, averaging 150-200km per week. I've been training more structured and riding decent distances for the past four years, before that I spent all my time riding the same MTB rides over and over. Now I ride 90% on the road, but I only compete in MTB endurance events like La Ruta de los Conquistadores (3 days/400km) here in Costa Rica.

Anyway, my questions are these:

1. Salt. After every ride I end up covered in salt, especially my face and arms, the straps of my helmet end up totally white and if the intensity was high, my shorts end up white too. Last year this eventually lead to cramps, but not this year, I have covered 4,000km year to date without cramping once or even coming close to. Is there anyway I can prevent this? I only drink Gatorade during my rides. As I said it doesn't seem to impact my performance, but I end up every ride looking spent.

2. Fatigue. The past three months, after 10 minutes into the ride I start to feel my legs heavy and slow, but my times remain the same and actually I'm riding a little bit faster every time. I do have massages every 2-3 months, but my legs don't feel fresh; again, this doesn't seem to be affecting my performance (maybe it is), but I don't like how I feel. One change I did this year is that I do 3 "long" rides (50-120km) a week, instead of 3 short (45min on rollers) and 1 long (80km) like last year. What's better: high quantity of short distance rides per week or low quantity of long distance rides per week? Remembering I like to compete in endurance events.

3. Too skinny. I've noticed this year that my body volume has decrease, my arms & torso especially, I feel and look too skinny, but I'm getting quicker, my weight has remain unchanged for the past 10 years, is there a way to increase your speed, but look better? (for day to day life purposes) One thing - I hate gyms.

Hopefully I'll see the answer to these questions, if you have to answer only one, #2 is the one that intrigues me the most. Thank you.

Luis Rubi

Pam Hinton Replies

Hi Luis,

Blood tests results and anaemia

Hi Fitness team,

Please can you help me, since I moved back to the UK from Melbourne I've discovered that the information offered to sports people outside of Olympic athletes is non existent at best.

My problems have been plaguing me for some time now. I noticed that I after a few weeks of intense training I would become very fatigued (more than normal), this lead to a general feeling of fatigue and malaise with low concentration in general circumstances.

A blood test revealed that my RBC were low with a blood count of 12.9 and haemocrit of 29 (My blood cell volume is 90.) Despite this my doctor says it's not a real problem but has put me on ferrous sulphate for three months. In addition to this I'm taking B12 and I'm starting to feel better already, my concentration has improved (although not brilliant unless the conversation is about cycling and my general feeling has improved significantly.

The problem is, this has occurred before (once in Melbourne) which leads to my question - is this normal? The haemocrit level also seems low as I've read somewhere that a normal male should be around the 40 - 44 level. Can you tell me what you would consider good for a cyclist?

I tend to do about 7-9 hours a week on the bike or around 200 - 250km. I don't get the time for big hours or big rides due to having a young child but make sure what I do is quality stuff with good efforts every week. My HR max is around 188 and all my efforts are between 160 and 180 depending on what I'm training for. I also make sure I listen to my body and get good recovery days each week after learning the hard way about overtraining.

I eat red meet around once - twice a week but I also have chicken once - twice a week and have pasta quite often with vegetable dishes making up a fair chunk of my meals. I also have a couple of Lattes a day after becoming addicted to them in Melbourne but never more than 3-4 caffeine drinks a day. I appreciate your help as there's no chance of getting any here. Kind regards,

Andrew Hill

Pam Hinton Replies

Hi Andrew,

Collapsed lung and pneumonia

Hello. I am a 50 year old male racer, 5' 10" and 147 lbs with BFP of about 5%, who is very fit. A little over three weeks ago, Saturday June 11, I was hit at the finish line in a crit and suffered two fractured ribs and a collapsed lung. I was in the hospital with a chest tube until the following Thursday. Immediately after returning home I came down with pneumonia, which was successfully treated with a ten-day course of antibiotics.

Approximately two weeks, Monday June 27, after the accident I saw my pulmonologist who said there was no sign of the pneumonia in my chest x-ray or in my breathing. She said that the rib fractures looked "old" already, and she cleared me for return to activity as the pain allows. I had started on my trainer on the prior Saturday, exactly two weeks after the crash, and by mid-week I was outside on my time trial bike. Three weeks after the accident I competed in a time trial and then a crit. In both events I finished a respectable 15th, but my wattage is way down from about 268w to 233w for a TT effort. The primary problem is breathlessness. While my legs appear to have hardly missed a beat, my respiration cannot support my usual wattage nor my usual cadence, which has fallen from the low to mid-90s down into the low to mid-80s (at least to be able to sustain wattage).

My coach and I agree that some of the difficulty is due to blood volume loss, which we can work to rebuild, but I have the strong sense that my lung simply is not hitting on all cylinders. What can I expect in this regard and can I affect this course by a particular type of training regime? I admit that my recovery has been miraculous so far, but my fear is that I will be stuck at this lower than normal capacity for a long time. Thanks.

David Frankford

Kelby Bethards Replies


Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1