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This Back Muscle Can Make or Break Your Ride

Why the QL is key, alternative fueling, psychological traits of injuries

Good morning everyone,

I’ve got one hand typing this paragraph out while the other hand has a massage gun that is drilling into my quad. It’s the end of the season so the body is definitely telling me to be done soon!

In today’s edition:

  • 🚴‍♀️ How one back muscle might be holding your cycling back, and causing pain!

  • 🎂 How to fuel when you don’t want another sports gel.

  • 🤕 And the psychological traits that can cause injuries.

Thanks for being here,

-Matt Sharpe, newsletter editor

Headshot of Matt Sharpe

Have a triathlete in your life who can't stop swimming, biking, or running? Fire this off to them. Forwarded from a friend? Sign-up for free. 


Back Pain While Cycling? It Might be from Your QL

If your back has ever been tight or sore after cycling, it might be due to a weak Quadratus Lomborum (QL) muscle - here’s how to strengthen and maintain this crucial core muscle, your back will thank you! 👇

Where is it: Your QL muscle is a deep, flat muscle located on your back.

What does it do: In cycling, it helps stabilize your spine, which allows for the optimal posture to produce power effectively and efficiently.

  • When the QL is weak or becomes fatigued, it cannot provide adequate support which results in an inefficient pedal stroke and decreased power production.

  • When the QL is worked beyond its typical length, serious back pain can occur due to a strain of the muscle.

  • Smaller back muscles may also need to compensate from QL weakness which can result in injuries like muscle strains and tears.

So, a weak QL can cause many issues beyond just a slow bike split. But by strengthening and stretching your QL, you’ll ensure you’re getting the most out of each pedal stroke, and saving your precious back (you only get one!)


🍪 Side lying crunch - This one really targets QL and a bunch of other key back muscles.

🧳 Suitcase carry - Really good for building endurance and strength in the QL. And for whenever you’ve got a seriously heavy checked bag!


👶 Modified child’s pose - channel your inner child as you stretch out a tight QL (actually maybe don’t).

🧘 QL stretch - This one is a little complicated with a bunch of different components but it’s definitely worth the time to nail down.

Foam rolling

The key is to find a tight spot and gently work it until it releases. And yeah this is usually a pretty painful experience. But honestly, it can’t really be worse than having a sore back! (Or can it?)

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News Without All the Nonsense

It can be challenging to find unbiased news sources these days. There is one outlet we trust for everything from culture and science to sports and politics: 1440. The team of PhDs and industry experts at 1440 scour over 100 news sources to create one daily email that gets you caught up on the day’s events in just five minutes. It’s independent and 100% free. Sign up for 1440 here.


😴 Better eating, better sleep: With Thanksgiving coming up in the U.S. there will be a few triathletes enjoying the classic turkey coma. But what other foods make you sleepy? Pumpkin seeds, apparently! And here are seven others. [Eat This]

🎂 Fueling to perform: Incredible strides have been made in sports nutrition to improve performance. But some days, opening another energy gel might not be so exciting. And as this Reddit thread details, there’s nothing wrong with some mid-workout cake frosting! [Reddit]

😩 Life stress and recovery: We all kind of know this, but it comes as no surprise that a recent study found that chronic psychological (or life) stress impaired recovery over a 96-hour period for metrics like muscular function and fatigue. [Dr. Sian Allen]

🏀 Sports, sans mansplaining (sorry men): The GIST is a free sports newsletter led + written by women that covers the biggest headlines, including the social and cultural impact of sports. Sign up here.*

🤕 Injury instigators: Athletes sometimes think if they ‘just get the right shoes’ or ‘cold plunge every day’ they’ll be able to avoid injuries. But more often than not, the mind is at fault. If you’re a perfectionist or have one of the other four psychological traits, it might be partially why you’re constantly injured! [Montana Running Lab]

💸 Gender pay gap: Although the prize money may be equal, the sponsorship dollars are anything but! Ironman champions Sarah True (USA) and Skye Moench (USA) go deep on the double standards for female trathletes, and the frustrating gender sponsor pay gap. [TRI247]

🐊 Haines City help: Are you racing 70.3 Florida in Haines City? This video from Mike Estevez is key viewing ahead of the big race! [Mike Estevez]

*Sponsored post


Yeah there can be a lot to unpack with triathletes!

Can also be applied to cycling with a tailwind 🤣

Flash sale: 15 discounted memberships available

We’re launching our second Tempo Pro edition focused on the principles of swimming well to help you get to the front of the pack!

We’re giving away 15 discounted memberships for 34% off for your first year. Get it now before it sells out - the last one we ran sold out in less than two days


Bankruptcy chaos: Hundreds of bikes have not been returned to athletes and are being held hostage as TriBike Transport - a crucial bike shipping company - appears to be bankrupt. [Slowtwitch]

Controversy in Chile: Controversy unfolded at the Vina del Mar World Triathlon World Cup as American Katie Zaferes crossed the line first only to be disqualified for not following the prescribed course when her and other athletes missed a turn on the run. [Tri-Stats]

RIP Louise: The Canadian triathlon community is in mourning after the passing of Louise Atkinson Clark. Clark was a pillar of the community who competed at the highest levels of the sport and always ‘lived life to the fullest.’ [Triathlon Magazine Canada]

Sunday DNS: American triathlete and recent top-10 finisher in Kona, Jocelyn McCauley, has turned down the opportunity to compete at next year’s Ironman World Championship in Nice due to religious considerations. [TRI247]

Iron child: A 12-year-old athlete is breaking records as she competes in triathlons typically reserved for adults (not going to lie it feels like a bit much!). [Yahoo Sports]

Balancing act: Elvys Kenneth Miguel is a state auditor by day and a triathlete in his spare time. This self-coached athlete believes everyone is capable of extraordinary achievments. [Palawan News]


Here’s what Tempo readers said about whether they’re excited for next year’s Professional Triathletes Organization Pro Tour.

Reader: The PTO tour is the best racing allowing for the top level athletes to compete with each other several times. That is what the fans crave.

Reader: The pro racing is interesting to watch but scheduling a PTO race two weeks after Nice 2024 is not fair play especially after the success of Kona 2023 for the women pros. As an amateur, I have no interest in going the hoops of racing for a federation, especially the Canadian federation which has treated its elite so poorly in the last couple of Olympic cycles.

Reader: It is a mess, where are all of the races? The IM world championships is far better I hope the pto didn’t con too many pros into their contracts and hold them back from IM It is pretty sad if some great pros only race twice in a year but get thrown loads of money, that ruins the sport.

Reader: You should have added a fourth option: I’m interested but disappointed with PTO. Races should’ve been announced by now. Messing up this announcements… they look like amateurs.

Reader: They could have done so much more for the sport. Unfortunately I feel like they have wasted millions of dollars and so much good will. I think the end is nigh for the PTO.

Reader: I can’t wait for the PTO Tour! It will be interesting to see which short course athletes jump over after the Olympics is done.


7 straight NCAA DI titles for Arizona State University - Thomas Fernandez

NCAA Triathlon Championships

The seventh edition of the women’s NCAA Triathlon Championships were held in Tempe, Arizona, and the hosts Arizona State University were anything but gracious taking home their seventh (!!!) straight DI national championship title.

  • Maia Carreau from the University of Denver took home the DI win.

The favorites from Lenoir-Rhyne University won its second championship in a row, with Sabrina Feig of Lenoir-Rhyne taking the individual win.

  • The DIII title was won by North Central College, as their own student-athlete, Hailey Poe took the individual DIII championship.

World Triathlon World Cup Vina del Mar, Chile

Women’s race: What was an exciting women’s race ended up in controversy as Katie Zaferes (USA) who crossed the finish line first, and Tereza Zimovyanova (CZH) who finished second, were disqualified due to not following the prescribed course when they missed a turn on the run.

  • Gwen Jorgensen (USA) originally finished third but was upgraded to the win.

  • Gina Sereno (USA) and Vicky Holland (GBR) finished in second and third due to the various disqualifications in front of them.

Men’s race: In a much less controversial race Manoel Messias (BRA) outsprinted compatriot Miguel Hidalgo, and Aram Michell Penaflor Moysen (MEX) to take the win.

Ironman 70.3 Melbourne

Women’s race: Amelia Rose Watkinson (NZ) spent most of the day chasing Natalie Van Coevorden (AUS) but was able to finally reel her in on the final km’s of the run to take the victory.

  • Lotte Wilms (NED) took home the final spot on the podium.

Men’s race: All eyes were on Olympic medalist Hayden Wilde (NZ) and he didn’t disappoint as he ran 1:08:00 to take the convincing win in Melbourne.

  • Nic Thompson (AUS) and Steve McKenna (AUS) rounded out the podium.


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