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Fitness questions and answers for December 27, 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.

Breathing rate vs Endurance on hills
Indoor vs Outdoor - Which is harder?
Sprinting drills
Riding with a broken shoulder

Breathing rate vs Endurance on hills

I am a 41 year-old, 185cm, 74kg male, who took up riding two-and-a-half years ago, for the first time in 13 years. I soon settled into a routine of training 100 to 200km per week in varied terrain. I started road racing with the local Vet's nine months ago. Although still racing in division 4, I regularly train with riders from higher divisions. This gives me an opportunity to test myself against higher ranking riders and force myself out of the div 4 comfort zone.

I am perplexed about the following: On long hills in our training rides, I often tussle with division 1 and 2 riders. I'll pick one and try to stay with him for as long as possible on the ascent. What I don't understand is that when riding side by side at the same speed as these guys up long hills, most are breathing at a faster rate than myself, yet I am usually the first one to weaken when the hill gets steeper or the pace suddenly picks up.

The only explanation I can think of to explain this paradox is this: Most of my training until recently has been at a deliberately high cadence, with very little in the way of strength training. Could it be that this has given me relatively high aerobic fitness, thus explaining the lower rate of breathing compared with my rivals, but a lack of muscle strength and muscle endurance required to press the flesh when the going gets really tough? Or is there some other issue?

Any light you can throw on this and suggestions for improvement would be greatly appreciated.


Scott Saifer replies:

Your interpretation sounds entirely reasonable to me. The only way to be sure though would be to start including some low-cadence, higher-force work in your regular training. Unless you have knee or back pain that contraindicates such work, I'd suggest you start by introducing 2 base rides per week with extended stretches of 70 rpm or so, after warming up by spinning.

Indoor vs Outdoor - Which is harder?

I realize this is probably a very simple question, but I am curious. In terms of perceived level of effort and/or physiological data such as heart rate, VO2, velocity, cadence, etc. is it 'harder' to ride a given pace and distance on an indoor trainer or outdoors?

Let's assume that we are talking only about constant speed, Zone 2 workouts, for say, two hours. I am assuming some of the pertinent variables may include wind resistance (greater outdoors), and momentum (less indoors), but I'm sure there are others. And let's also assume that there is no 'boredom' factor for indoor training that affects one's perceptions of a ride (in one version of a perfect world for indoor training).

Gary Resnick
Gaithersburg, MD, USA

Scott Saifer replies:

Riders almost universally report that maintaining a given power indoors is more difficult than maintaining the same power outdoors. This is due primarily to the lack of efficient cooling indoors, even with a small fan. The air doesn't feel hot, but without passing air, one dissipates heat as one would on a much hotter day. This leads to a higher heart rate and higher perceived exertion for the same power output. There may also be issues relating to never shifting position, but those can be overcome by... shifting position.

Sprinting drills

Hey, I'm a 22 year-old Cat. 5 road/Cat. 4 'cross racer (been riding for about a year) at 6'1", 200 lbs. Heading into my first collegiate road season, I was wondering if there were any tips or drills I can do to develop my sprinting abilities. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Alex Fowler
Boone, NC, USA

Scott Saifer replies:

There are two important aspects to sprinting: pushing hard on the pedals at high cadence and tactics. If anything, tactics are more important at the cat 4/5 and collegiate C or D level. I say this from personal experience because I was never fastest in head-to-head sprint practice with my buddies, but several times won races or at least podium spots by combinations of good positioning and timing.

Riding with a broken shoulder

Given the propensity to train when recovering from a broken collarbone, can you provide some advice on training while waiting for a broken shoulder to heal? Would appreciate the assistance.

Chris Cummings
Palo Alto, CA, USA

Scott Saifer replies:

Depends on your goals mostly. If you want to race seriously in the spring, you need to train, broken shoulder or not. That will probably mean a lot of time on the trainer with the front end high, doing what you would have done if you didn't have the injury. If your goals are either less competitive or later in the year, you might as well relax while you heal.

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