Q&A with Prod Rider Neilson Powless
Ever wondered how the pro’s train? If yes, you’re in the right place. Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to sit down with EF Racing's very own Neilson Powless, who gave me a pro’s perspective on training. If you don't know Neilson, in my opinion, he is one of our best cyclist in the world.
Neilson burst onto the United States road racing scene as a 19-year-old and found instant success, finishing ninth overall at the 2016 Amgen Tour of California and winning a stage at the Tour de l’Avenir. Those results shot him to the WorldTour where his adaptability accelerated his learning curve. The 23-year-old spent his rookie seasons (2018-2019) racing for Lotto-Jumbo, joining EF Education-NIPPO in 2020 where he continued to impress with his breakaway performances at the Tour de France.
Check out our interview below and learn how to train like a pro!
What is your take on nutrition when you’re out for a long ride?
I try to avoid only eating bars and jells for a 6-8 hour ride. About halfway through, I’ll try to find “normal” food that has a good balance of protein, fat, and carbs. I think protein is very underrated and something I try to prioritize on my rides.
I also try to stay satiated throughout my entire ride. It’s not about just making it home, it’s about riding as hard as I can throughout my entire ride. That’s why I prioritized a balanced meal halfway through my ride to ensure I finish strong. I also hate finishing rides feeling shriveled up, and do my best to not finish my rides starving because I find I recover so much better that way.
You’re always looking at the course map on your computer during your races, can you explain why you prioritize this?
EF always puts together a GPS course route that I can download onto my computer for any stage of any race I do and it is something I definitely utilize. This course map will tell me how much longer it is to the finish line, how long upcoming climbs are, what turns are coming up, and great info like that. For example, it will tell me in 2.5km there will be a 3k climb.
I have my computer set to a 1km zoom level so I can constantly peek at it to have a better gage at what is coming. I believe that if you know the course better than anyone else you will have a huge advantage, and that’s why I always take advantage of this course map on my computer.
What your favorite training tips for optimizing your progress?
Eating, sleeping, and hydrating. If anything, just focus on these three things. Everything else will have minuscule effects on your results if you’re prioritizing these three things.
What are your tips for mitigating the discomfort of climbing up cobblestone or rough terrain?
Do not do a lot of standing because you want to keep your bike as stable as possible. When you stand, you bounce, and that’s where you lose a lot of energy. The best tactic is to just stay in the saddle and push hard.
What is your mindset when it comes to training on and off your bike?
The step-up I’ve made in the last few seasons is to just be smart with my training. In the past, I’ve run myself into the ground with low-carb diets and double training days. There is a time and place for that, but it stresses you and your body. In most cases, results come from a balanced approached to training. For me, a 30-minute gym session, a balanced diet, and building solid base miles has made my training more fun, and has made me happier and more motivated. Combined, this has made me better on the bike.
What kind of exercises are you doing at the gym?
My workouts tend to look pretty similar. I always start off with about five minutes of mobility, using a foam roller and doing some stretching. I’ll then hit 4x30 seconds of jump roping to warm my body up, along with some hip stability warm-ups (For example, side-to-side squats).
Then, the bulk of my workout includes med-ball side chops, goblet squats, split squats, pushups, kettlebell deadlifts, kettlebells rows, and a few bear crawl laps. (Basically, a Dialed Health workout!)
I’ll switch it up about every 3 weeks, or once my body gets used to the demands of the workout.
Want to hear more tips from Neilson and also get a behind the scenes perspective of a pro rider? Check out this episode of the Dialed Health Podcast: