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Fitness questions and answers for May 31, 2004

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.

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.

Training on medication
Low carb diet and cycling
Getting dropped early from races
Recreational cycling calorie needs
Recommended daily hours
Needing to drop some weight
Losing weight/staying strong
Energy levels for carb free, yeast killing diet

Training on medication

Recently I've started taking a medication that, as a side effect, raises my HR about 10-15 bpm. This figure seems to hold up across my HR range -- in other words I am about 10-15 bpm higher at each power reading on my SRM. My question is -- how does this effect my AT if at all. My AT is about 175 normally, and I assume that figure wouldn't change, nor would my MHR. So am I just stuck having to ride easier/slower until I stop taking this medication?

Dean Georgaris

Scott Saifer replies:

This is a very interesting question, and one that calls for a bit of understanding of physiology to answer. Remember that the anaerobic threshold (better called lactate threshold, LT) is an effect that occurs locally in the working muscle. That means that while there is a heart rate at which your pedaling muscles typically begin to produce more lactate than they consume, there is no more direct connection to heart rate. The way most people experience this disconnect is by noting that smaller muscle groups can experience a lactate burn even while the heart rate is low, for example when a cyclist decides to go swimming for some reason.

Dario Fredrick replies:

Assuming that it is indeed the medication that is affecting your HR, and that whatever condition that you are taking the medication for does not preclude you from high intensity exercise, I recommend basing your training efforts on your power training zones rather than on your previous HR zones. I would also be sure your SRM is calibrated properly (programmed slope), and that the offset numbers differ by less than 10 at the start of your rides, or with significant changes in temperature during a ride.

Low carb diet and cycling

I am contemplating beginning the South Beach diet, in order for me to lose 15-20 lbs. As you know, this is a carb-restricted plan, particularly in the early stages of the diet. While I want to lose the pounds, I am concerned about the lack of fuel for training and racing. South Beach is interesting because it claims that one will lose 8-13 lbs in the first two weeks, when carbs are the most restricted.

I am 46 years old, weight 204 lbs at 6'1", and compete in 12-15 mile time trials 2-3 times per month. I train regularly, about 8-10 hours per week.

Peter Richardson
Cape Elizabeth, ME

Pam Hinton replies:

Let me ask you, do you really want to adhere to a diet that promises, "no exercise is required?" You are an athlete after all! Instead, allow me to suggest an appropriate alternative. So instead of the "South Beach Diet," how about trying the "Podium Peter Diet"?

Getting dropped early from races

I am a 31 year male who has recently resumed road racing after a 6 year absence. I used to ride C grade and competed in a few B grade races both on the road and in crits.

I have had a very good summer training regime which has been reduced to maintenance training coming into winter.

I have competed in 3 races this season. In the first I groveled home 30 seconds behind the pack after hanging off the back all day, in the second I got dropped after about 20 minutes and in the last race I only hung on for five minutes. My problem is that my heart rate sky-rockets at the commencement of the races and does not drop below 170, whilst getting as high as 185. This happened for the first 30 minutes of the first race and the pattern has been similar in the last 2 races where I just blew in a big way and had to drop off the back.

The strange thing is that I can ride flat out in a group ride with a mix of graded riders in the mornings (racing is in the afternoon) over a similar distance, at speeds equal or greater to the racing speed and not have an issue. My heart rate would be unlikely to get over 176 and recovery is not an issue.

I believe that this could be due to either the time difference, as I always train early in the morning, inadequate warm up prior to racing or possibly pre race diet. Could you let me know your thoughts on this problem and offer some possible solutions.

Marco Tonelli
Essendon Australia

Dave Palese replies:

If I am understanding you correctly, that you do a group ride in the morning that is similar to or even a bigger effort than your race in the afternoon, you may just be tired from your morning effort when you race later in the day.

Recreational cycling calorie needs

I am a recreational cyclist wondering about carb and calorie intake. I ride 5 or 6 days per week, and ride 30 minutes to 180 minutes per ride (6-8 hours total). Most of my miles are in the endurance HR zone (65 to 70 percent max HR). I do mix in some moderate hills, quick pedaling (105 to 115 rpm) and 10 to 20 second sprints throughout the week. I am 5ft 11in and 195 lbs. I lifted weights pretty heavily in my 20's (I'm now 39) so I do not have a cyclist body type. I am probably 20 lbs over weight and want to lose that extra weight, but I am having trouble losing it steadily.

I take in roughly 2500 calories per day, with an average of 250g carbs, 75g fat and 150g protein. My cycling computer says I burn roughly 1,000 calories per hour on the bike. That sounds kind of high to me, but I am not sure. When I cut my carb intake lower than 2,500 I seem to bonk frequently. Any suggestions?

Todd N. Tuengel
So. Cal.

Pam Hinton replies:

Your weight loss goal of 20 pounds is a reasonable one given your current weight of 195 pounds at 5ft 11in. To lose weight you must expend more energy than you take in. It takes a deficit of about 3500 kcal to lose one pound of body fat. By creating a negative energy balance of 500 kcal per day, you will lose one pound of body fat over the course of a week.

Recommended daily hours

I read a quote in a popular fitness magazine that said in order to develop the aerobic system properly, you need at least two hours of riding a day, four days a week. Is there any truth to this number, or can the aerobic system be well developed with rides less than two hours? I don't have time for this much riding. What is the minimum daily hours you recommend?

Rich, Cat 5

Eddie Monnier replies:

There's no one right answer to your questions and lots of variables to consider (e.g., do you come from an endurance sport background, what are your natural strengths and limiters, what type events are you targeting, what are your goals for those events, etc.)

Scott Saifer replies:

My clients who try to race on less than 8 hours per week of training are rarely successful. Those who train 10-12 hours per week do pretty well in the beginner ranks in California. Some other districts may be easier. For a rider with minimal available training time and aspirations to being competitive in the fives, I'd suggest 60-90 minute rides as often as possible with at least one three-hour ride each week for a total of at least ten hours per week of riding time, and at least one day off every 10 days.

Needing to drop some weight

I am 5ft 10in and I weigh about 184lbs. I know that my weight considerably affects my riding. I always get dropped on hill climbs and I struggle to keep up with pace lines after a few hours of riding. I am trying to watch my calorie intake and I am paying special attention to eating smaller portions than I used to. I run about 15-20 miles a week, I ride 3-5 hours a week, and I swim and surf up to 10 hours a week... mostly surf. I want to excel in my running and riding (which means I need to eat right to build my muscles), but I really want to shed 10-15lbs. Do I just concentrate on losing weight first and using that new weight as a base to developed my riding/running?

Jay Hall

Pam Hinton replies:

I agree with you, your chances of hanging with the group will increase if you lose 10-15 pounds. At 5'10" and 184(ish) pounds, you could safely lose weight without compromising your performance. You asked, "Do I just concentrate on losing weight first and using that new weight as a base to develop my riding/running?" I have to admit I am a bit concerned that you may go overboard with the dieting thing, hoping to create a new body that you can then whip into shape. I know that 10-15 pounds may seem like a lot of weight to lose, especially if you feel like your efforts to cut back on portion size aren't working. In my experience, however, you will be much more successful at losing the weight and maintaining a lower weight if you focus more on your training and less on "dieting".


I am a 37 yr old cat. 4/masters roadie. I have been racing and training hard for three years I average 10 to 12 hours per week on the bike. I have a problem with leg cramps under maximal power/sprints. I weigh 161lbs and am 5ft 11in. I have done my best at hydrating and eating on the bike.

My first bad cramp was last year when I raced a 30 km Crit. I had it won but cramped 150 m from the finish and could not turn a peddle let alone unclip. I therefore followed my coaches advice and hydrated well pre-race with water and sports drinks. On the bike I drank a mixture of water and Gatorade. I also took a Clif Shot each lap however I cramped on an uphill sprint ( again! ) and lost 2nd and 3rd place , finishing fourth.

What am I doing wrong? Am I one of those athletes prone to cramps? It is always an uphill sprint, could this have something to do with it? The temperature both days was warm but not hot or humid.

Paul Goobie

Eddie Monnier replies:

Cramps are difficult to address, largely because we don't actually know what causes them, which is sort of ironic given that we can put a man on the moon. But that's a testament to how complex the human body is. Although people refer to sodium and electrolyte levels as causes of cramping, there isn't much evidence to support that notion, especially in events lasting fewer than four hours.

Losing weight/staying strong

I am a 34 yr old male who rides 3 times per week for a total of 100 hilly miles. I carry way too much weight (255 lbs) and would like to get under 200 lbs over the next year. Can you recommend a program that would help me cut weight while gaining strength at the same time?

Steve Wilkinson

Pam Hinton replies:

First of all, I like your perspective on losing weight. You don't want to compromise your strength, which can happen if you lose muscle mass while dieting. You also have set a reasonable target weight and a sensible time frame for reaching your goal.

Energy levels for carb free, yeast killing diet

I am suffering from a bout of yeast (candida) infections (for a period of about 2 months) likely related to recent high stress levels (both personal and professional). In researching how to become yeast free I have found that there seems to be a general consensus that one needs to cut out, for a period of time until a healthy balance is reachieved in the body, all products that are: yeast related (bread, cheese, alcohol), white sugars, carbs such as pasta and rice, etc. From my research I understood that to actually starve the yeast, one needs to spend at least 10 days eating NO foods which will convert to sugar quickly in the body which includes all fruits, most nuts, in essence, almost no carbs. I found a few guides to a yeast free diet which coincide in letting you add more starchy foods over a few months after the first 10 symptom free days.

I am currently in training for my first half-ironman (August) and my second Olympic distance triathlon (June) and find myself suffering from a tremendous lack of energy from eating almost only protein. I am healthy, active 29 year-old female.

Any advice on a diet which will rid me of yeast, yet provide me with enough energy to keep up my training will be greatly appreciated.

Kalara Schuster

Pam Hinton replies:

As you probably know, humans normally have small amount of the yeast, candida albicans, on our skin and in our mouths and gastrointestinal tracts. The growth of the yeast is kept under control by the normal bacteria that are present. The yeast becomes problematic when the bacteria no longer keep the growth of the yeast in check. This most frequently happens in individuals whose immune systems are compromised by medications or stress.

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