2009
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Perfect Fit – Part 3 Interview, Goals – Physically & Competitively

When we talk about an athlete’s goals through the interview process, we consider both the physical and competitive desires of the individual. Sometimes these two aspirations are contradictory, and sometimes they already work in concert with one another. Regardless, the best approach is to get a handle on the overall feelings of the athlete and assess the newly learned information as thoroughly as possible.

For example: Is the athlete actively trying to gain or lose weight? Are they comfortable with their current weight? How does their weight fluctuate during the year?  How are they going about this weight change? Is this a healthy and reliable approach to weight change that will avoid a negative impact on training? Are there other alternative diet plans that are better designed to meet the goals of the athlete?

At this point I find it important to explain what is meant by the “power to weight ratio”. We may all feel that we will run faster and with less effort as we lose weight. However, in the water, and especially on the bike, it is very plausible to lose too much weight and thus lose overall power and speed. There are ways to test an athlete as he/she loses or gains weight in an effort to determine an optimal weight for maximizing endurance and power. For most long distance /endurance athletes it is sometimes better to have a touch of extra weight to protect oneself from a total endurance meltdown.

Flexibility can be a sore subject for many athletes. Some athletes truly put out an effort and care about maintaining and/or advancing their flexibility, while some don’t care at all. Others truly want to gain flexibility in their heart of hearts, but when it comes down to doing the work they are simply unmotivated or  lack the available time to commit to a consistent and effective routine. It is important to understand the athlete’s current flexibility (through later testing in the fitting session), and the reality of how it is going to change over time. Will an athlete improve flexibility with aggressive persistence to maintain or escalate elasticity? Or will flexibility diminish due to lack of consistent stretching, and through general effects of aging coupled with muscular and skeleton deterioration?

The presence or absence of strength training is a causal element in the final evaluation of where the athlete will be best positioned in space for their riding application, distance commitment, intensity, and the overall ability to maintain the position for the duration required by the activity. Much like flexibility, specific areas of muscular strength will be tested later in the fitting session. It is important to find out what kind of strength training is currently in practice, and the intensity of the training level, including working the muscles to failure. If applicable, the athlete should be taught the productive need to bring their muscles to failure, what failure will accomplish, and how muscular failure through strength training benefits the overall performance and long term safety of the athlete. Finally, we must consider the frequency of an athlete’s strength regimen and how it changes throughout the year- both during and out of the competition season.

We at Elite Bicycles like to recommend certain elements of strength training that we feel will assist the athlete to maximize overall power output, provide protection from injury, and help create a larger pool of muscles to advance the athlete’s performance and endurance both on the bike and throughout life in general.

Additional questions to consider include the athlete’s desire for increased speed in relation to enhanced level of comfort.  Does the athlete want to be faster at a comfortable distance or is he or she looking to maintain comfort at an increased distance? Is the athlete aggressively trying to change and advance their physical state, or, conversely, is the athlete comfortable with themselves and feel that comfort and enjoyment are paramount?

Most importantly, how experienced is the athlete with the event or competition you are helping them to prepare for? Is the athlete a first time rider and new to the sport, or is the individual a skilled sportsman and just new to cycling? What level of speed and endurance is required to participate in the upcoming events, and how may this change during the near to outlying future?

The next article posted will be the final step in the interview process; part four (4) will focus on the day-to-day lifestyle of the athlete both at work and at play.

Thank you for your time and interest in this series of articles.  As always please feel free to comment or ask questions that interest you with regards to this post.

DGG

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This post was written by: DGG
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