Fitness questions and answers for December 23, 2008

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at...

Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at fitness@cyclingnews.com. Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

Carrie Cheadle, MA (www.carriecheadle.com) is a Sports Psychology consultant who has dedicated her career to helping athletes of all ages and abilities perform to their potential. Carrie specialises in working with cyclists, in disciplines ranging from track racing to mountain biking. She holds a bachelors degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University as well as a masters degree in Sport Psychology from John F. Kennedy University.

Jon Heidemann (www.peaktopeaktraining.com) is a USAC Elite Certified cycling coach with a BA in Health Sciences from the University of Wyoming. The 2001 Masters National Road Champion has competed at the Elite level nationally and internationally for over 14 years. As co-owner of Peak to Peak Training Systems, Jon has helped athletes of all ages earn over 84 podium medals at National & World Championship events during the past 8 years.

Dave Palese (www.davepalese.com) is a USA Cycling licensed coach and masters' class road racer with 16 years' race experience. He coaches racers and riders of all abilities from his home in southern Maine, USA, where he lives with his wife Sheryl, daughter Molly, and two cats, Miranda and Mu-Mu.

Kelby Bethards, MD received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University (1994) before obtaining an M.D. from the University of Iowa College of Medicine in 2000. Has been a racing cyclist 'on and off' for 20 years, and when time allows, he races Cat 3 and 35+. He is a team physician for two local Ft Collins, CO, teams, and currently works Family Practice in multiple settings: rural, urgent care, inpatient and the like.

Fiona Lockhart (www.trainright.com) is a USA Cycling Expert Coach, and holds certifications from USA Weightlifting (Sports Performance Coach), the National Strength and Conditioning Association (Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach), and the National Academy for Sports Nutrition (Primary Sports Nutritionist). She is the Sports Science Editor for Carmichael Training Systems, and has been working in the strength and conditioning and endurance sports fields for over 10 years; she's also a competitive mountain biker.

Eddie Monnier (www.velo-fit.com) is a USA Cycling certified Elite Coach and a Category II racer. He holds undergraduate degrees in anthropology (with departmental honors) and philosophy from Emory University and an MBA from The Wharton School of Business.

Eddie is a proponent of training with power. He coaches cyclists (track, road and mountain bike) of all abilities and with wide ranging goals (with and without power meters). He uses internet tools to coach riders from any geography.

David Fleckenstein, MPT (www.physiopt.com) is a physical therapist practicing in Boise, ID. His clients have included World and U.S. champions, Olympic athletes and numerous professional athletes. He received his B.S. in Biology/Genetics from Penn State and his Master's degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University. He specializes in manual medicine treatment and specific retraining of spine and joint stabilization musculature. He is a former Cat I road racer and Expert mountain biker.

Since 1986 Steve Hogg (www.cyclefitcentre.com) has owned and operated Pedal Pushers, a cycle shop specialising in rider positioning and custom bicycles. In that time he has positioned riders from all cycling disciplines and of all levels of ability with every concievable cycling problem. Clients range from recreational riders and riders with disabilities to World and National champions.

Current riders that Steve has positioned include Davitamon-Lotto's Nick Gates, Discovery's Hayden Roulston, National Road Series champion, Jessica Ridder and National and State Time Trial champion, Peter Milostic.

Pamela Hinton has a bachelor's degree in Molecular Biology and a doctoral degree in Nutritional Sciences, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She did postdoctoral training at Cornell University and is now an assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of iron deficiency on adaptations to endurance training and the consequences of exercise-associated changes in menstrual function on bone health.

Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling competitively in 2003 and is the defending Missouri State Road Champion. Pam writes a nutrition column for Giana Roberge's Team Speed Queen Newsletter.

Dario Fredrick (www.wholeathlete.com) is an exercise physiologist and head coach for Whole Athlete™. He is a former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.

Scott Saifer (www.wenzelcoaching.com) has a Masters Degree in exercise physiology and sports psychology and has personally coached over 300 athletes of all levels in his 10 years of coaching with Wenzel Coaching.

Kendra Wenzel (www.wenzelcoaching.com) is a head coach with Wenzel Coaching with 17 years of racing and coaching experience and is coauthor of the book Bike Racing 101.

Steve Owens (www.coloradopremiertraining.com) is a USA Cycling certified coach, exercise physiologist and owner of Colorado Premier Training. Steve has worked with both the United States Olympic Committee and Guatemalan Olympic Committee as an Exercise Physiologist. He holds a B.S. in Exercise & Sports Science and currently works with multiple national champions, professionals and World Cup level cyclists.

Through his highly customized online training format, Steve and his handpicked team of coaches at Colorado Premier Training work with cyclists and multisport athletes around the world.

Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com) is Head Coach of Richard Stern Training, a Level 3 Coach with the Association of British Cycling Coaches, a Sports Scientist, and a writer. He has been professionally coaching cyclists and triathletes since 1998 at all levels from professional to recreational. He is a leading expert in coaching with power output and all power meters. Richard has been a competitive cyclist for 20 years

Andy Bloomer (www.cyclecoach.com) is an Associate Coach and sport scientist with Richard Stern Training. He is a member of the Association of British Cycling Coaches (ABCC) and a member of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). In his role as Exercise Physiologist at Staffordshire University Sports Performance Centre, he has conducted physiological testing and offered training and coaching advice to athletes from all sports for the past 4 years. Andy has been a competitive cyclist for many years.

Michael Smartt (www.wholeathlete.com) is an Associate Coach with Whole Athlete™. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology, is a USA Cycling Level I (Elite) Coach and is certified by the NSCA (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). Michael has more than 10 years competitive experience, primarily on the road, but also in cross and mountain biking. He is currently focused on coaching road cyclists from Jr. to elite levels, but also advises triathletes and Paralympians. Michael is a strong advocate of training with power and has over 5 years experience with the use and analysis of power meters. Michael also spent the 2007 season as the Team Coach for the Value Act Capital Women's Cycling Team.

Earl Zimmermann (www.wenzelcoaching.com) has over 12 years of racing experience and is a USA Cycling Level II Coach. He brings a wealth of personal competitive experience to his clients. He coaches athletes from beginner to elite in various disciplines including road and track cycling, running and triathlon.

Advice presented in Cyclingnews' fitness pages is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for individual athletes. If you follow the educational information found on Cyclingnews, you do so at your own risk. You should consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Metabolism rate in training
Resistance training and fat burning
Cleat placement
Foot size difference
Cleat adjustment position
Ride position and health professionals

Metabolism rate in training

You state that resistance training doesn't in and of itself burn fat - agreed. But doesn't more muscle mass equal more metabolic work, and thus more fat burning? So assuming some muscle building from resistance training, wouldn't that mean more fat burning while 'at rest'?

Thanks for all the valuable info!

Juan Cagampang
Portland, OR, USA

Scott Saifer replies:

Absolutely. Muscle mass is 'metabolic' in the sense that it requires energy to maintain it and it does use some fat at rest. More muscle uses more fat. Before you consider adding muscle mass as a way of using more fat daily however, you should consider how much muscle you'd need to add. Let's say you wanted to add enough muscle to use one pound of fat per month. The following a quick calculation is full of approximations borrowed form www.wikipedia.org. Don't think of this as a rigorous bit of science, but just a ball-park estimate.

A typical male is about 50 per cent muscle by weight. Let's consider a 160 pound rider with 80 pounds of muscle mass. To lose an extra pound of fat per month, you need to use roughly an extra 100 Calories per day. The existing 80 pounds of skeletal muscle, plus nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, etc use about 1200-1600 calories per day at rest. Roughly 18 per cent or less than 300 Calories per day of that total is used by resting skeletal muscle. To increase calories used by muscle by 100 per day, you have to increase muscle mass by at least 33 per cent, or more than 26 pounds.

While it is true that increasing muscle mass increases daily fat utilisation, the amount of muscle that you have to add to significantly impact fat use is so great that it makes no sense to try to add muscle as a way to stimulate weight loss. Strength training is often suggested as a way to maintain muscle mass while dieting to achieve weight loss.

Even that I'd recommend pondering carefully for bike racers however, many of whom have more than the ideal muscle mass, especially on the arms and chest, as well as excess fat. Those who already have small muscles on their arms and chest but still need to lose weight should consider combining dieting and strength training for the arms and chest. Others should be careful to only lift with muscle groups that are smaller than ideal for their cycling goals.

Resistance training and fat burning

I found the responses to the Dec 16 lead Form and Fitness question entitled "More Fat Burning," somewhat at odds.

Essentially, Mr. Saifer indicates resistance training is not useful for weight (fat) loss and suggests "exercises that utilise fat as fuel support weight loss and those that utilise carbohydrate don't." On the other hand, Ms. Hinton indicates resistance training can lead to "negative energy balance" and thereby support fat loss.

I enjoy and appreciate this column and realise this topic is complicated but I'm hopeful you will elaborate/clarify in a future column so your readers might have a better understanding of resistance training as it relates to calorie burn and which exercises Mr. Saifer refers to when stating some activities utilise fat as fuel.

Chris Forcum

Pam Hinton replies

Scott Saifer's response to the question about the utility of resistance training for fat loss was limited to fuel selection (carbohydrate vs. fat) during exercise. He raises a point that is important for optimal recovery - the requisite consumption of carbohydrate for repletion of glycogen stores. However, post-exercise, metabolic pathways are regulated such that carbohydrate is used to synthesise glycogen and not fatty acids due to activation of an enzyme, AMP-kinase, which acts as a metabolic switch.

My point is that weight and fat loss occur when energy expenditure exceeds energy intake. It is incorrect to assert that fat loss occurs only with low-intensity exercise of long duration, which is fueled in large part by oxidation of fatty acids. Think about it, high-intensity aerobic exercise, such as threshold intervals, requires use of glucose to generate ATP (because carbohydrate yields more ATP per litre of oxygen consumed than fat). Yet, it would be ridiculous to assume that fat loss cannot result from high-intensity interval training.

Resistance training may affect energy balance in two ways: the energy cost of the exercise and increased resting energy expenditure. Several studies have shown that, post-exercise, high-intensity resistance training results in increased metabolic rate (i.e., basal energy expenditure) and shifts substrate utilisation towards fat oxidation. In addition, resistance training increases skeletal muscle mass, which elevates basal metabolic rate (BMR). Because BMR accounts for approximately 60-70 per cent of total energy expenditure, small increases in BMR may be significant over time.

In summary, resistance training facilitates fat loss because it increases energy expenditure - both directly and indirectly. In addition, resistance training protects against loss of skeletal muscle mass when energy intake is limited. Recent studies have shown that resistance training has additional metabolic benefits, such as decreased blood lipids and improved insulin sensitivity.

Cleat placement

I just read on the D2 shoes website about how they determine cleat placement. It's the same as I heard quite some time ago but I had actually forgotten about this method. They suggest you take a measurement from the first metatarsal and the fifth metatarsal and where that crosses on the foot is where you place the cleat. I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on this method.

Duane Dickey

Steve Hogg replies:

That's a fine method of finding a starting position for the cleat, so long as you remember that all rules of thumb for bike fit get you starting positions and that you then watch the rider pedalling and correct for any problems you see. For many riders, this method will get you a cleat fore-aft position that works fine and doesn't need to be adjusted. Do remember to set the angle as well on pedal systems that don't allow generous float.

Foot size difference

I am a 46-year-old Cat 2 cyclist who started racing last year. My problem is that as my training gets harder my different sized feet seem to be giving me more of a problem. My left is at least two bike shoe sizes smaller than my right. I have seen a chiro and he said I do not have a leg length discrepancy.

The problem is that it still seems as though the left foot isn't connected as seamlessly through the pedal stoke as the right foot nor does it seem to push the same power as the right foot. At the beginning of last year I bought two different sized shoes (Shimano 300) and was fitted on the bike with those. My left foot has three shims and the right only two. The total difference in the length of the feet is far greater than the difference of the balls of the feet.

Jim B Miller

Steve Hogg replies:

This should be an easy one to fix. You have done the right thing in using differing size shoes on each foot. You say "My left foot has three shims and the right only two". I suspect you mean wedges not shims. Wedges can't the foot; i.e., that is lift the inner edge or outside edge of the foot depending on the placement of the thick edge of the wedge. A shim elevates the foot, i.e. moves it further from the top of pedal platform and are used to correct measurable or functional limb length differences.

That 2 sizes smaller left foot shortens the effective distance your left leg / foot can reach to the pedal. That means you need to place a shim or shims underneath the left cleat to compensate for the shorter foot. You can make a shim out of any suitable material or you can contact bikefit.com for purpose made shims. I need to declare an interest here in that I designed the shims bikefit.com sell.

The other consideration is that the placement of the cleats relative to foot in shoe should be different on each side because of the large difference in size. Have a look at these links for advice on where to position the cleats on each shoe. The first deals with cleat position while the second looks at issues surrounding the ball of your foot.

I don't know how many mm of shimming you will require but the correct height shim stack is the one where both legs feel like they are reaching through the bottom of the pedal stroke with equal facility and fluency while nott causing any issues over the top of the pedal stroke on left side. Additionally, you will need to move the cleat on the left shoe back 1 mm further than the suggested position for every 5 mm of shim stack to help negate the rocking torque effect inherent with the use of shims.

Cleat adjustment position

I have a problem with cleat/pedal wear that I hope you can help me with. Steve Hogg may be the best man here!

I am a 37-year-old male that usually rides 250km per week. About six months ago I upgraded to a pair of look keo pedals with the grey cleats featuring 4.5 degree float. For some reason I have been prematurely wearing out the right hand side of the right cleat and the right side of the right pedal as well.

Previously I was using a Look delta pedal set with a red cleat set featuring a 9 degree float so I'm suspecting this was masking the problem, however my right heel used to hit the chain stay often whilst climbing.

Essentially I have found that my right foot has a natural duck position compared to my left.

Today I tried to compensate for this by adjusting my cleat to point the heel of the my right show inwards. During climbing I found that that my right foot was using the full float range (I could feel it slipping back and forward completely in the float range) but my heel started to hit the chain stay just like it did with the red 9 degree float delta cleats.

My first reaction to this was to perhaps use a black cleat (0 degree float) on the right foot to "train" it to be straight. My only concern with this was possible knee injuries that could result.

What can I do about this right duck foot?

Simon Chipperfield
Adelaide, Australia

Steve Hogg replies:

Look Delta pedals and cleats raise the riders foot 6-7 mm further above the pedal axle than Look Keo pedals and cleats. When you changed from Look Delta pedals to Look Keo, did you drop your seat by that amount?

If you didn't, the solution to your problem may be that simple as sitting too high would account for everything you mention. You describe your right foot as naturally pedalling more heel in than the left. That suggests that you ride with an externally rotated right hip which is probably caused by sitting with the right hip forward on the seat, an innominate rotation on the right side or less commonly, a bowed lower right leg.

When we sit too high, at an autonomic level we all 'choose' a side to protect and a side to sacrifice. If you haven't dropped your seat then that is what has happened subsequently.

Were the Keo cleats placed on your old shoes or did you get new shoes at the same time?

Was any attempt made to put the Keo cleats on the shoe in a position that left your foot position over the pedal unchanged?

If you did drop the seat, get back to me with the info I've requested and we'll go from there.

Ride position and health professionals

I know I have a problem with not sitting on the bike symmetrically but my issue is, how do I get this resolved? This is also apparent when standing and even sitting in an ergonomic office chair. Most of the 'physios', chiropractors and 'sports doctors' in my area seem to be more keen with a few random 'back cracks' and then sending me on my way without much in the way of improvement. I could try trail and error based upon what I feel but this could make things worse.

Is there a recognised standard or qualification that I should be looking for in doctor/professional or is it best to just try to find out via 'word of mouth' or google who is worth going too?

Mark
Vacaville, CA, USA

Steve Hogg replies:

Sadly, I hear of situations like yours all the time. I don't know what you do for a living but if I asked you the question: "Of the people that you know that have a similar job to yours; what percentage would you trust to do your work for you?" - you would probably answer "About 5%" Like all other service professions, the health profession is no different in terms of customer satisfaction in my experience.

Because of youthful stupidity and misadventure, I have been a big consumer of health services and have learned a few lessons regarding being a health consumer. Basically, you need to find someone who is competent and above all, interested in educating you and equipping you with knowledge and tools to resolve whatever problems you have. People like that are around, just not as common as they should be. When I fit someone, they leave with a folder containing a lot of info pertinent to them. I have cut and pasted one page below that may help.

Notes on dealing with health professionals

I will have probably advised you to consult various health professionals regarding issues that I have found during your assessment and noted in this folder. We live in a culture where the prevailing model in the health industry is the drug / surgical model. Sometimes this is appropriate, sometimes less so. I am not anti health profession, but have found that like car mechanics, building tradesmen and other service professions, good health professionals, in the sense that they have interest in, and insight into your problems, are not as common as they should be. Here are a few tips.

1. Always take a written list of questions - You need to use your time with a health professional to help educate yourself as to the issues you have and the options you have open to you. With a written list, you won't get side tracked. Don't leave until you have answers in language you understand so that you can make informed judgements about potential solution paths and remain more in control of the process of structural improvement.

2. Never give unearnt respect - Professional respect is something you give someone when you feel their course of treatment or advice is achieving results. Ask questions and get answers so that you understand what is going on and that you are part of the process and driving it to some degree. Better health professionals will want to give explanations without prompting. If in doubt about anything, ask, ask, ask.

3. Always give feedback - Some people in the health professions assume that they have 'fixed' someone because they don't see the client again. In many cases health consumers don't like to make a fuss or complain, they just look elsewhere instead. If we give feedback, the people we are paying for advice or treatment know the state of play and can modify their approach to treating your specific issues accordingly. It is hard to expect health professionals to improve their abilities to treat or advise on a course of remedial action unless you, the client, provide quality feedback to them.

4. Don't give up - If you feel you have done everything and seen everyone in an attempt to resolve an issue for limited results, don't give up. Every problem has a solution to varying degrees. Often the most time consuming thing is finding the person(s) with the necessary insight to advise or treat you effectively

5. Wherever possible, choose health professionals who are cyclists or triathletes or who have a cycling/tri clientele. Simply, people like that are best equipped to help resolve any issues you have that limit you on the bike.

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