Cyclingnews Fitness Q&A - March 20, 2012

The peloton tried to bridge the gap

The peloton tried to bridge the gap (Image credit: Tour de Taiwan)

Topics: Training Zones, ITB issues and seat position, Early season training regimen

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Training Zones

ITB issues and seat position

Early season training regimen

Training Zones

Good Morning,

Scott Saifer says:

Hi Hank,

There are many valid ways to set up training zones. Here are the zones I use and how to calculate them:

Zone 0, Resting, <60% maximum heart rate
Zone 1, Active Recovery, 60-70% maximum heart rate
Zone 2, Aerobic Endurance, 70-80% maximum heart rate (but at least 5 beats below LT in case LT is low)
Zone 3, Moderate or Tempo, 92-96% of lactate threshold
Zone 4, Hard or Threshold, 97-102% of lactate threshold
Zone 5, All Out, heart rate depends on duration of exercise but will exceed lactate threshold if exercise lasts more than a minute or so

In order to set up zones in this way, you have to test your own personal threshold and maximum heart rates. The effort required to identify your maximum heart rate is of course very hard, so you should check with your physician before doing that test. If the doctor advises against all out effort but allows you to ride hard enough to breath harder, I'd suggest you identify your lactate threshold as your chat-no chat threshold heart rate and then set up zones as follows:

ITB issues and seat position


Last year I completed an ironman, and the combination of increased training loads and ramping up of my running I gave myself IT band syndrome on my left knee (and my right IT band got very tight, but didn’t exhibit ITBS symptoms). I took 4 months off all exercise over the off season, and saw a Physio and doing the rehab (focused on VMO and glute strengthening along with massage/stretching of the ITB and stretching of the hips) I saw some improvement in the ITB. Concurrently I have been focusing on overall flexibility via yoga, and my range of movement in my hips has expanded greatly since last year’s ironman.

In February I got back on the bike to get back into bike racing however as I have ramped up my volume and intensity I have noticed the IT band flaring up again and it is now impacting my training.

Last weekend one of the riders in the race I completed videoed the race and I noticed that my hips were wiggling up and down as I peddled much more than the other cyclists in the race. My initial thought is that my seat is too high. If more bike setup details would be useful let me know and I will send them through.

Also is Steve able to recommend any bike fitters in NY City?


Steve Hogg says:

G'day James,

ITB issues caused by cycling are always caused by the opposite hip dropping while pedalling. If you are dropping both hips, then both ITB's will tighten to varying degrees.

The cause(s) are always poor function, poor position or any combination of both. Radical positions tend to increase the incidence and sensible positions tend to decrease the incidence for a given degree of functionality.

I cannot recommend a good bike fitter in New York because I have little or no firsthand knowledge of the situation there to comment.

It is probably worthwhile reading this as background info.

Once you've read that, get back to me with any specific questions that you have.

James replies:

Hi Steve,

Thanks for getting back to me. I think I didn't make one thing clear, by racing I meant road bike racing, ie on a standard road bike, cervelo r3 in my case. Not sure if I was clear on this in my original email.



Steve Hogg says:

G'day James,

No I didn't realise. The mention of "since last year's Ironman" threw me. Thank you for the clarification. Okay, so you are not stable on the seat and are dropping each hip while riding a road bike, and it is this that is causing your ITB issues. The question of course, is why are you unstable.

Potential answers can be grouped in to 2 categories and the full answer could be any combination from either group. They are:

Functional Factors:

1. If a rider is generally tight in the hips and low back, then the pelvis, hip and lower back on each side tend to work as a unit rather than individually. What typically sets off the chain of neurological inhibitions that result in this are excessively tight hip flexors. How tight are you in the hip flexors, glutes , hamstrings and quad lumborum?

If you are unsure, find out.

If you know you are really tight in those areas, then you have something to work on.

If you are reasonably flexible and functional in those areas, then either your feet are the problem or part of the problem, or what follows is to blame.

Regarding the feet; if you have less than wonderful feet functionally, then that will theoretically impose a lateral or rotational load on one or both knees while you pedal. At a level below conscious thought, humans are generally really good compensators which in turn means that we are adept at shifting the load. What hurts is the part of the body least equipped to bear that compensatory load, which in this case if your ITB's. Three links following will give you a good grasp of foot correction so that you can decide whether that is the issue.

-Arch Support

What follows is a word I dislike. "Core Strength". In simple terms, if you are reasonably functional and have a reasonable position on the bike and are still having stability issues on the seat, then your ability to apply force to the pedals (peripheral load) is greater than your ability to resist the application of that force (central stability). If you are in doubt about your core abilities, go and see a Functional Trainer and find out.

What remains are the Positional Factors:

1. The most common problem I see is too high a seat height. Probably 80% of my fit clients leave with a lower seat height than the one they arrive with. Much more about this here.

2. Seat set back is the next thing to tackle. If you seat is too far forward or too far back, the rider will not be stable on the seat. You are unstable on the seat, though we don't know why yet. More here;

3. Cleat position affects everything we do on the bike. Every pedal down stroke is a potential challenge to on seat pelvic stablity. My experience is that most riders give only cursory attention to cleat position and that oversight is a major cause of problems of all sorts. More info here:

4. Bar position. If you have to reach too far out or too far down to the bars, there will be an increased tendency to pelvic instability. More about this here.

Once you've worked your way through that, please let me know how you get on.

Steve Hogg says:

Early season training regimen

I am a dedicated roadie from the Midwest who is in his early 60’s. during the season I average 100-180 miles per week and am a B+/A- rider. Like a lot of us, I have done spinning and weights 2-3 times a week in the off season. Now that there is a spring thaw, I am hitting the road, but need some advice on the transition from gym to road. Normally I can do a 50-80 mile distance ride without problems, but what distance do I start with? 45 miles, 60 or what? While spinning does a good job of simulating riding, I can only do 1 1.2 to 2 hours before I am about to die of boredom. Also, once one is back on the bike there are certain muscles or combination of muscles that you just don’t use indoors. Don’t forget about your sit bones and reawakening those callouses.

There is a plethora of advice for going from hibernation to the road, but what about us who have worked hard to try to preserve on legs from the winter doldrums? You input is appreciated.

Scott Saifer says:

Hi Mark,

As a general rule it's always safe to go about a half hour longer than your recent routine longest ride, so if you've been doing 2 hour trainer rides, I'd suggest you start with 2:30 outdoor rides. When you've gotten a few of those and at least a week of rides in, go for 2:45s and so on, adding about 15 minutes per week to the longest ride until you are up to your usual distances.

The Cyclingnews Form & Fitness panel

Scott Saifer ( is head coach, CEO of Wenzel and has been coaching cyclists professionally for 18 years. He combines a master's degree in Exercise Physiology with experience in 20 years of touring and racing and over 300 road, track and MTB races to deliver training plans and advice that are both rigorously scientific and compatible with the real world of bike racing.

Scott has helped clients to turn pro as well as to win medals at US Masters National and World Championship events. He has worked with hundreds of beginning riders and racers and particularly enjoys working with the special or challenging rider. Scott is co-author of Bike Racing 101 with Kendra Wenzel and his monthly column appears in ROAD Magazine.

Steve Hogg has owned and operated Pedal Pushers since 1986, 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. He can be reached at:

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.

Pam 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 associate professor of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studies the effects of energy balance on bone health. She has published on the effects of cycling and multi-day stage racing on bone density and turnover.

Pam was an All-American in track while at the UW. She started cycling competitively in 2003 and is a five-time Missouri State Road Champion, racing for Dogfish Racing Team.

Carrie Cheadle, MA ( 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.

Dave Palese ( 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.

Dario Fredrick ( 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.

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