Male Road Cyclists

Study of hormones, body composition, bone mineral density and performance in competitive male road cyclists

Screen Shot 2018-01-02 at 10.42.17

Are your hormones, body composition and bone health and in tune with your training to optimise your cycling performance?

Opportunity for cyclists, of 2nd category or above, to participate in a research study, which will include at two time points during year:

  • DXA scans to assess your body composition and bone mineral density
  • Blood test to assess hormone status
  • Advice on nutrition and skeletal loading exercises

Full analysis and discussion of your results.

This study has both ethical approval and university approval. Collaborating with Dr Karen Hind at Leeds Beckett University. Research bursary from BASEM

First paper from study now published Low energy availability assessed by a sport-specific questionnaire and clinical interview indicative of bone health, endocrine profile and cycling performance in competitive male cyclists BMJ Open

Further details provided below. Please complete the following form to register interest in participating in this study




What would you get out of this study? Insights into your hormone status, body composition, bone mineral density which are all linked to health and sport performance. Expert medical and scientific explanation of all results and discussion of how to optimise your performance on the bike based on these objective, medical metrics.


Male cyclists are a unique group where detailed study over a training season is lacking: Male Cyclists: bones, body composition, nutrition, performance BJSM 2018

Male Athletes: the Bare Bones of Cyclists

Cyclists: Make No Bones About It BJSM 2018

Cyclists: How to Support Bone Health?


Total of 2 visits over year pre and post race season taking 45 minutes each for discussion and DXA scan

At baseline all cyclists will be asked to:

  • Complete a questionnaire to gather information on your sport and training history. Current training load and current FTP. Outline of current nutrition and relevant medical history. This will be sent in advance and you will be asked to bring on the scan day to go through any details.
  • DXA scan to assess body composition (distribution of lean and fat mass), bone mineral density (total and regional: femoral neck, lumbar spine and wrist) This involves lying still for about 15 minutes. Very low radiation dose (equivalent to flying a quarter of the way across Atlantic)
  • Blood test by finger prick capillary sampling. Forth Edge will send participants small kit in post. You return the sample in post to be analysed at Surrey University accredited laboratories. Results will be uploaded onto secure online platform. Analysis to include: testosterone, vitamin D, FT3, calcium, albumin and ALP
  • Cyclists will be allocated to a group receiving advice on nutrition and skeletal load bearing exercises, or not, on paired allocation mechanism based on lumbar spine bone mineral density. The nutrition advice is not prescriptive, rather check points on key elements based on good medical practice and approved by lead sport performance nutritionist at English Institute of Sport. Exercises have been devised to load skeleton and can be done at home, without specialist equipment/access to gym etc taking about 15 minutes, 3 times a week and can be included in cool down post training. Exercises based on my knowledge and experience as medical doctor and Pilates Foundation teacher and approved by colleagues in Sports Physiotherapy and S&C. The nutrition and exercise advice will be fully explained, printed handouts distributed and video in case of the exercises.

Cyclists will be asked to record their training load (e.g. on Strava/Training Peaks) and add manual entry of any exercises off bike. Plus weekly comment on any changes/no changes in nutrition.

Follow up:

  • Questionnaire and discussion of training load and cycling performance. Any changes/no changes to nutrition. Any changes/no changes to exercises off bike. Feedback from cyclists on whether suggested recommendations were practical/feasible.
  • Repeat DXA scan as above
  • Repeat bloods as above


If at any point during the study any questions/issues arise, I will be available to answer/discuss.

I will personally go through and discuss all your results with you based on my clinical and research medical expertise and experience: what these mean, significance of these, how related to health and performance and what to do to optimise.

Objective of the study

In addition to giving individual cyclists an insight into their health and performance, The objective is to come up with practical and effective recommendations for the cyclists to optimise health and performance based on objective scientific metrics.

When and where?

Aiming to complete first round of scans before race season kicks off, then next round at end season. Travel expenses up to max limit for each visit.