Muscle Cramps Deep Dive, Fitness Plateaus, Protein Guidelines and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 340

What role does glycogen availability play in cramping and what is the latest research showing us about why cramps happen? Orange Seal Off-Road Team’s Alex Wild will join us to dig into this as well as discussing fitness plateaus, endurance athlete guidelines for protein intake and more. Join us live for Episode 340 of the Ask a Cycling Coach Podcast!

Tune in live at a special time, Tuesday morning at 8:00am Pacific!

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Muscle Cramps Deep Dive, Fitness Plateaus, Protein Guidelines and More – Ask a Cycling Coach 340

Topics Covered in This Episode

  • 0:15 Intro

  • 4:28 Alex’s off-season

  • 10:31 The Hosts’ Goals for 2022

  • 24:26 Deep dive into muscle cramps and glycogen

  • 01:12:04 Rapid Fire Questions

  • 1:23:55 Training with too high of an FTP

  • 1:32:40 How Alex avoids fitness plateaus as a pro athlete

  • 1:39:33 Training for extremely long climbs

  • 1:49:10 How much protein should endurance athletes ingest?

  • 1:56:00 More Rapid Fire Questions


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Does that mean there’s two podcasts next week :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:?

Really enjoyed this one, thanks gents.

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Totally anecdotal but I did cramp really hard on the last hour in an event last season and I usually don’t cramp at all.
I noticed at the end of the event that for some reason I only fuelled around 60% of what I usually would do in such an event.

Sadly I’m a cramper and it’s agonizing when it happens. It’s happened so badly in a race that I have fallen off my bike screaming because both hamstrings and quads were cramping at the same time so no way to pedal or get off my bike. It looked like I had crashed, lol and racers and cars were stopping to check on me.
For me it’s definitely doesn’t seem to be linked to poor fueling (I carb load, then fuel at 90-100g carb per hour for big events), it’s when I’m red lining it effort wise which only happens to that degree in a race environment.
Magnesium citrate has helped with post workout and night cramps but it still happens sometimes :grimacing:

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This was definitely a fun one. Having just started back at the ST6 episodes it was hilarious to hear Chad discuss some of his past woes.

I do get cramp, and suspect it’s a combination of carbs and electrolyte. I think there’s a strength of contraction thing with how hard you’ve ridden, but the logical thought to me is the Carb and Electrolyte missing that’s used in the process fibre relaxation.

Just a correction @Jonathan: Canadian CX nationals were postponed to January because of flooding and infrastructure destruction, not COVID.
The Covid situation in Canada is pretty stable these days, vast majority of cases amoung the unvaccinated 10%.
That said, it’s prudent not pin all your planning on one event like ST6. A new variant surge is one possibility, but I’d say forest fires are the biggest threat to events in these parts


After listening to this week’s podcast and listening to all this talk about cramping, it’s got me wondering whether I have ever cramped before. This isn’t the humble brag or anything, but a genuine question: is it possible to go through a 15-year riding career without ever remembering a cramp?
Now, I’m sure there have been a couple times here and there where I’ve cramped, but thanks to Chad’s description of basically apocalyptic death feelings with each cramp, I would probably remember something like that, and I can’t. Just as interesting as what causes cramps, why would I go through my riding career without ever having a memorable cramping experience, even when I know my diet has not been the best in the past?
Believe me, I don’t wish to experience the wishing for death pain that everyone seems to talk about, but I just wonder what might cause an entire lack of them in general?

Thanks for this engaging and interesting podcast. I have experienced cramping for years - both during and outside of exercise. On the bike, it’s typically calves or inner thighs. On days I’ve trained, cramping outside of exercise is usually worse and can be completely debilitating (have you ever had both hamstrings and feet go into a cramp at the same time?) Regular yoga sessions and applying heat directly to affected muscles helps.

I’ve tried just about everything (from pickle juice to hot shots to various supplements), so adding more carbs can’t hurt - willing to give it a try. I’ve always skimped a little on fueling during rides (typically around 40-50g per hour) due to a sensitive stomach.

What about short training sessions of 1 hour or less? For those, I typically only drink water, unless it’s a particularly intense session. I should add that I train before work in the morning, so I’m usually fasting. Is it better to leave that as is or maybe do a little carb loading the night before? Thoughts?

I know this is kinda offtopic, but any news on @Nate_Pearson? Is he doing alright after his concussion?

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I was alternating grinning and grimacing during the cramp segment; excruciating is such an elegant word for the situation – my hand when up right away when Chad started his personal story. Certainly have been there!

So fascinating on the carb side of things. I wonder if Coach Chad had looked at Menachem Brodie’s video on inner thigh cramps as part of his research.

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Obviously I don't have the embed video in post skill down yet....

[16:50] “Send me a completed disaster workout and you can have a shiv TT”.

That applies to all of us doing WWDD next month, right @AlexWild? :+1: Worldwide Disaster Day 2021 "Official" Thread - Training - TrainerRoad


What is the name of the tire insert you are using @jonathan

On his MTB I’m pretty sure it’s a Tubolight.

I also hope to see him back on the pod as soon as his life (and concussion) allows. He posted on IG about doing ok, but it was brief.

Hopefully he can get back on the bike and we can convince him to come to Rotorua next year for Whaka100 (or 100 miler :grimacing:)

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Here you go. Just post link with no extras around it

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I’ve noticed cramps from under feeling this past year. It’s definitely from not taking enough on so that further on in the long ride the cramps happen. But when I get the fuelling right the legs stay good.

Tip: when you feel that cramps are coming just push harder and it would be okish after a few minutes. If you stop pedaling or start pedaling easier then you will make things much more painful and longer…

Thanks, That sounds right. Maybe I’ll give them a try.

What was the name of the company Chad mentions that makes the novel strength-training bars? TIA!