Fitness questions and answers for April 12, 2004

Form & Fitness Q & A

Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding.

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.

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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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.They include World and National champions at one end of the performance spectrum to amputees and people with disabilities at the other end.

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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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 ( 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.

Brett Aitken ( is a Sydney Olympic gold medalist. Born in Adelaide, Australia in 1971, Brett got into cycling through the cult sport of cycle speedway before crossing over into road and track racing. Since winning Olympic gold in the Madison with Scott McGrory, Brett has been working on his coaching business and his website.

Richard Stern ( 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 ( 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 ( is an Associate Coach with Richard Stern Training. He holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology and is USA Cycling Expert Coach. Michael has been a competitive cyclist for over 10 years and has experience coaching road and off-road cyclists, triathletes and Paralympians.

Kim Morrow ( has competed as a Professional Cyclist and Triathlete, is a certified USA Cycling Elite Coach, a 4-time U.S. Masters National Road Race Champion, and a Fitness Professional.

Her coaching group, eliteFITcoach, is based out of the Southeastern United States, although they coach athletes across North America. Kim also owns, a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find a coach.

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.

Climbing improvement for sprinters
Training for hills when you don't have hills
Bike set-up
Gym strength to bike strength

Climbing improvement for sprinters

It has been interesting reading the recent features on sprint training etc on Cyclingnews. As a sprinter myself I am beginning to struggle with a few things. My coach and I have been developing my sprint over the past few years. Sprinting comes easy to me. Positioning in the pack is usually not a problem, I am aggressive and feel quite at home bumping elbows with people. I agree that sprinting is partially genetics, as is climbing for some people. Body type and muscle tissue type all play a role. My struggle is trying to make it OVER the climb for sprint points and the finishes.

1. I am not a naturally good climber, yet I still seem to be spending a lot of time training sprints, where I feel I should be climbing more and doing more climbing drills. What would Cipo do??

2. Training sprints is fine, but it never really simulates race situation (unless motorpacing) where your heart rate is 178 and then you have to sprint. Is doing sprints at, say, 150bpm a waste of time as you are not getting into the zone that you should be training anyway?

In short, how do I get my massive calves and quads over the hill with the climbers? Or do I switch to track?!

Gina Grain
Victory Brewing team

Scott Saifer replies:

I'm going to reply to your question because I feel I've done a very good job with athletes in your situation. You seem to have identified your weaknesses well and that's the first step. The next step is the tough part and fixing those weaknesses so they are not your weakness anymore or they are significantly better than where you started from.

Training for hills when you don't have hills

I live in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, and we have no hills! I am training for some rides that have 1,500 metre climbs, what is my best approach? Move!?


Georg Ladig replies:

Well, moving to a mountainous area would definitely help...

Ric Stern adds:

I don't believe that riding a large gear (e.g., 53 x 11) at low cadence (e.g., 50 revs/min) will provide the forces and benefit you require, unless your fitness is low (which we don't know). Using the above gear and cadence combo, on flat roads you'll end up riding at just under 31 km/hr, which is likely to require a quite low power output of maybe somewhere between 120 and 200 W. Depending on your fitness, this may be a long way below your threshold, and as power is decreased so are the forces at the pedal.


I'm a 22yr old male road cyclist interested in boosting my recovery following hard rides. I use Endurox and I recently purchased the massaging "stick" to work on some self massage. Is it necessary for self massaging to be somewhat uncomfortable to derive benefits from it? What about using a balm such as Freddy's Choice in aiding recovery? Any other ways to make my legs feel fresher on the next ride?

Zombor Zoltani
Waterville, Maine

Dario Fredrick replies:

The recovery benefits of massage do not necessarily require uncomfortable, deep work. While deep tissue massage can release tight areas and even help align joints, a lighter, more "flushing" massage may also help by improving circulation to the muscles involved. Although there is minimal scientific literature on the performance (& recovery) benefits of massage, most cyclists find massage to be an important aspect of their recovery regimen. Another way to improve circulation and flush the legs is to lie on your back with your legs up a wall for 5-10min. Additionally, to feel fresh on your subsequent rides is with good post ride nutrition, hydration and adequate sleep.

Bike set-up

I've just bought a new road bike, a compact M/L Titanium frame with Dura Ace ensemble. My previous bike was one I bought in 1988, a steel 57cm Reynolds 531 frame with SunTour Cyclone ensemble.

I have measured the seat height (from BB), and bar distance (from seat), to make sure it matches with my older bike. Obviously it feels very weird because of so many differences between the two (been riding the old one since '87 too. I call myself a social rider - 35 yrs young, 76 kg - did a bit of racing as a youngster (focused on track).

Here are some differences between the two bikes:

175 mm cranks (had 170 mm)
44cm bars (had 42)
9 speed STI (had 7 speed friction down-tube)
compact ML frame (had 57cm conventional)
Titanium (had steel)
53/39 chainrings (had 52/42)

I am a bit concerned that this may be too much change. Is my concern a valid one or will I get used-to the new setup? Or is there something in particular I should be careful of e.g. the longer cranks?

Virgo Martin

Georg Ladig replies:

No reason to worry about too many changes.


As daylight saving has just finished in our state, any training time out on the road after work hours is now pretty much zero. I am mid forties and have been racing for about 18 months with the vets on the weekends and also mid week up until our day light disappeared. The question is that I Need to increase my LT and vo2 max but would like to spend some nights off the wind-trainer and do something else. Is interval training on a rowing machine a viable option? There seems to be so much information out there regarding LT and vo2 max training, however some of this info is conflicting so it can be difficult at times working out what the hell is the best thing to do!

Greg Lipple

Ric Stern replies:

Assuming that by LT you mean your TT power, then hard training such as this and VO2max should be done specifically on the bike, as the training adaptations occur at the specific joint angles and velocities that are trained. Of course there may be some *small* cross over, which is more likely with the lower your absolute fitness level is.

Gym strength to bike strength

I am 50, 5ft 9in, 170 lbs., with 10 percent body fat. I have ended my off-season leg weight gym program except for a 1 day a week light maintenance workout. I race in the NorCal district and do reasonably well (top 10) in my age group in sanctioned races. What type of on the bike training regime will help me transfer strength gain in the gym to strength on the bike.


Ric Stern replies:

Strength training doesn't have any beneficial effects on performance, unless there's an increase in muscle cross sectional area (hypertrophy). This will cause an increase in peak (sprint) power, and is the reason why 200-m, 500-m TT, and 1-km TT track sprinters are so large.

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