Fitness questions and answers for August 28, 2007

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. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.

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.

Jon Heidemann ( 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 ( 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. 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 ( 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 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.

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.

Increasing muscle mass
Base miles on a home trainer
Breathing & helmet straps
Regaining form
Thanks Steve

Increasing muscle mass

Hello, I am 185cm and 67kg in weight. I used to be a lot heavier (80kg+) before I started cycling 2 years ago. However I think I am too thin and feel that I am not as powerful as a should be for my height. Consequently I would like to put some muscle weight back on, especially on my legs. I currently ride quite hard for around 2 hours 2 times a week and 1 hour 3 times a week.

I am a vegetarian and have significantly increased my intake of protein and overall calories in the past few months, but have thus far not put on any noticeable weight. I have been told that Whey protein would be a good supplement for achieving muscle mass gain. Would you agree with this, and could you recommend any other techniques for increasing leg muscle mass?

Eddie, UK

Pamela Hinton replies:

Adequate dietary protein is necessary to add muscle mass, but you’ve got to do more than just increase your protein consumption to gain muscle. With adequate energy and protein intake, resistance training causes an increase in muscle mass. As you probably know, fewer repetitions with heavier weights will stimulate muscle hypertrophy, while more repetitions using lighter weights increases muscular endurance. To increase skeletal muscle mass in response to resistance exercise, additional dietary amino acids are required to synthesis new muscle protein. Athletes who are involved in strenuous resistance training should consume 1.6-1.7 g protein per kg BW. Protein in food can be scored based on how closely the proportion of amino acids it contains matches the amino acid composition of muscle protein, correcting for digestibility of the protein. Proteins that are high quality have the right mix of amino acids and receive a score of 1.00, while proteins that are missing an essential amino acid or are poorly digested receive a lower score. Typically, protein from animal sources like meat (0.9) and egg whites (1.0) is high quality and protein from plant sources like beans (0.6) and wheat (0.4) is lower quality. For this reason, vegetarians need to combine plant-sources of protein so that they get all of the amino acids. Examples of complementary foods are beans and rice, peanut butter and wheat bread, tofu and rice. Because of the lower protein quality of plant-based foods, it is recommended that vegetarian athletes consume 1.6-1.7 g protein/kg of body weight; this is higher than the recommendation for non-vegetarians of 1.2-1.4 g per kg of body weight. Whey protein comes from cow’s milk. It is easily digested and has the essential amino acids, so it also gets a score of 1.0.

Base miles on a home trainer

Is it possible to build a reasonable base using a home trainer, if you live in an area where riding is almost impossible?


Scott Safier replies:

Absolutely, so long as you can tolerate the amount of trainer time that you would have to do on the road to get the base you wanted, maybe 20% less since there is no coasting on the trainer.

Breathing & helmet straps

I seem to have a problem breathing when my helmet straps are adjusted properly so that the helmet is relatively snug and doesn't move around very much on my head. The problem appears to be the way the straps compress the area between my chin and neck. When I release the straps (or loosen them significantly) I can breathe much better. Is there anything that can be done so that I can breathe freely and also have a well fitting helmet. Any advice would be appreciated.

Andrew Altevogt

Scott Safier replies:

The helmet just needs to be tight enough that you can't push it off the back or front of your head, or too far to the side. If you can't get that sort of fit by adjusting the straps in a way that still allows you to breath, look at some different helmets. Each brand is based on a particular head-shape and some stick to certain head and float around on others. When you have a helmet that is right for you, you should need to adjust the straps snugly under your chin, but not so tight that you are aware of them after a few minutes riding.

Regaining form

I was interested to read Scott Safier's comment that taking seven days off of the bike "can really wreck the next couple of months of the season." Wreck?! Is this the conventional training wisdom? Exactly how much fitness, and what kind of fitness, can be so dramatically lost in seven days? I was under the impression that a few days off, especially if it can be planned for, can actually boost training, or at a minimum not be a cause for major alarm.

Most competitive cyclists are paranoid about losing fitness. If we sense any risk to our fitness we tend to head right out and do just the sort of hard intervals described in the original letter to Cyclingnews. However, based on most the advice I have ever received (and often ignored), this type of response seems prone to result in an adverse training response.

Even though Mr. Safier advocates easing back into training after any layoff, I think the message most serious cyclists will get is the one that tells them they will "wreck" their season if they have to be off their bike for a week for whatever reason. In the real world, riders have jobs, families, injuries and other things that get in the way of training from time to time. Are we doomed to mediocrity?

John O.
Berkeley, CA

Scott Safier replies:

A day off the bike can often be a very good thing for a rider's form. Whether a longer break is good for you depends on your expectations. A rider might well be stronger after a week off than before, but that would indicate he or she was doing too much intensity or volume before the break and that most likely he or she would have been stronger had he or she not trained so hard before and not taken a week off. In the real world riders have, jobs, families,injuries and other things that get in the way of training, and they get beaten in races by riders who have fewer distractions and can devote off-bike time to recovery.

Thanks Steve

A big thank you for all of the advice you have give in your contributions to Cyclingnews.

After suffering from on going knee and back problems for several years and realising I was in the last chance saloon, approx. 18 months ago, I came across your contributions in Cyclingnews. The key point I learnt from you was to see a health professional who understood cycling.

Fortunately I was able to afford both the time away from work for appointments and the cost of the treatments from an excellent Gonstead Chiropractor in Manchester and I am now back on the bike pain free.

All I need you to do now is to get the England fast bowlers fit!

Rob Newton
Ellesmere Port

Steve Hogg replies:

I'm glad that you got a result and are back on the bike. Best of luck

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