Fitness questions and answers for January 29, 2008

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.

Maximum power
FSA vs American Classic Seat posts/Hip Drop
Altitude tents
Bike seats
Stretching & cycling
Bike fitting
Training & time management
Hypertension and the competitive cyclist
Training while on medication
Influenza question
Appetite suppressants

Maximum power

Warm wishes from frozen northern Ohio, USA. I recently have been trying out something I read in a popular cycling magazine. They are called T-max intervals. Interesting concept, they make you determine max power through a test of gradual increase of 20 -30 W every minute till exhaustion. I did this and managed around 380W. They then suggest finding the max time you can ride 60% of max and then creating intervals based on these values. It worked out for me that I could handle the 230-240W for the entire 6 minutes the test called for. Then do two workouts a week at the 60% max power for 3 minutes and then 3 minutes rest and repeat until spent.

The problem is this: The intervals are too easy. It seems like I can sustain that power output and not really suffer too much, as they strongly suggest you will. What is the problem? It almost seems like my sustainable power vs. my max power is a little out of whack? Do I need to really suffer to boost max power?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Dave Palese replies:

Hey Terry,

FSA vs American Classic Seat posts/Hip Drop

Hi Steve

In Nov 07, I noticed you advised a cyclist to try an Am Classic J seat post with tilt to correct hip drop while other times you emphasize correction with FSA with Data clamp/lateral offset. I was wondering why the difference since I just ordered a FSA to correct my pelvic asymmetry with significant right hip drop and anterior rotation resulting in left knee pain (left knee tracks outwards on upstroke and somewhat towards tube on downstroke). Again thanks for your time and continue with your posts since I've learned so much from your input!


Steve Hogg replies:

G'day Bruce,

Altitude tents

I have a safety question regarding altitude tents. In the event of a malfunction, if the oxygen content of the tent was gradually, over the course of several hours, lowered with a theoretical end value that is dangerously low, would a human wake up at some point because of the lack of oxygen?

Alex Voitik

Steve Owens replies:

Hi Alex,

Bike seats

I am 49 weigh 96 kg and have been riding for two years, I ride an Argon Carbon Fibre Bike and have been fitted on the bike. My seat gives me grief especially after 1.5 hrs in the saddle, as I experience some discomfort and numbness!

My right knee gets sore in front so I have lifted the height by 1 cm which has helped.

I am told GOBI have a new touring set the CX arriving in Australia shortly which offers a high level of comfort on long rides.

Any suggestions?

Gavin James

Steve Hogg replies:

G'day Gavin,

Stretching & cycling


I have been taking cycling classes at the gym for the past 15 years with various instructors, and some do marathons they are in such great shape.

Anyway, last evening, the head instructor for cycling at the YMCA here in Charlotte, NC indicated that stretching after a rigorous cycling class did not do anything and did not help. Can you send me back feedback on how it helps after a class, and why stretching after a class is effective? I appreciate the help.

Please send all information pertaining to stretching, I would really like to share this information with her, because every instructor I have ever had, insist on it.

Thanks so much.


Scott Saifer replies:

Hi Gary,

Bike fitting

Hello, I am writing because I do not know about how to pick a bike fitting service. I live in Southern California and it seems there are countless choices all purporting to be the best. I have read enough articles suggesting simply using a set formula are not ideal because we are all different. This leads into the issue of someone just winging it because he "feels" it looks good for whatever reason. I am able to travel relatively easily if there is someone offering a sound fitting that addresses my physiological needs (Australia is too far, but Northern California is easy).

My physical issues are two fold. First I have had a chronic lower back pain (manifested on just the right side from deep in the glute to slightly above the buttocks). It is a dull pain that sometimes flairs up leading to significant low back pain after hard training rides with lots of climbing or intervals. Also as a pilot I sit quite a bit and sometimes this can be irritating. I suspect that I have poor flexibility (tight hamstrings) in the pelvis leading to my back flexing forward rather then my pelvis rotating forward. I do lots of stretching with limited relief. I did some bikram yoga, but this seemed to make matters worse.

The other issue is new in the past 6 to 9 months. I had a LeMond and was fitted with the suggestion to go with a no set back seat post and a slightly longer stem. The frame broke prior to my making any changes and was replaced with a newer LeMond under warranty. I made the recommend adjustments to the new bike with the understanding that the dimensions of the new frame are near identical to the old frame. I now am having wrist pain where my wrists bend behind the thumbs when on the brake hoods. It is not bad on the bike (stationary riding is more uncomfortable then on the road), but can be very painful and range of motion limiting off the bike doing everyday things. I am concerned that the new more forward position maybe forcing my arms, wrists and hands to support more of my weight then with the more aft seat position of old.

I am sure you cannot tell me what to do based upon just an email, but that is why I am looking for a good bike fitter to point me in the right direction.

Thank you for your time,
Michael Murphy

David Fleckenstein replies:


Training & time management

My question is not so much training technique but more training management. To give a bit of background I've been riding road bikes for 6 years and racing for 5 of those years, after 3 years of racing at a club level I'd progressed to the point of racing major national races/minor international class races and managed a few placings in some big races. During the 2005 season I had a major fall in a race and ended up with a grade 4 AC joint break requiring surgical repair, obviously this ended the 2005 season and required about 6 months off the bike whilst trying to manage work, family and rehab time etc. By mid 2006 I'd managed to get enough fitness back to be doing larger state level races. At the end of 2006 my first child was born, I didn't manage a great deal of riding for the first six months and following that I haven't been able to manage any form of structured training.

In the past I'd trained 6 days a week and now I'm lucky to get a consistent 3 days a week. I'm at the point where I'm getting incredibly frustrated as I'd love to be back racing, even just at a club level but every time I feel as though I'm starting to get some fitness back something happens from a work or family perspective and before I know it I've been off the bike for a week or so and I'm back where I started.

After having put in a lot of hard work after six months off the bike to return to race fitness and then lose it all again in a matter of months was somewhat depressing. The other frustration is that my family and non-cycling friends don't seem to understand the addiction of being a racing cyclist, its something I've greatly enjoyed and had a level of success at, and when I talk to people about this topic most don't seem to understand the big difference between racing and just going for a ride, therefore they don't seem to understand why going for the occasional ride just isn't as satisfying.

My training these days consists of two days a week commuting (3 hour round trip but they aren't quality miles due to the stop start traffic) and usually a ride of a couple of hours on one weekend day. I would like to increase my days on the bike through the week but cant as on those days I drop-off/pickup from childcare.

I have two questions:

1. Does anybody have any tips on being able to fit some sort of structured program in around a family situation so that I can get some consistent training?

2. How to best deal with the frustration of not being able to race/train and knowing that you have the potential to be doing a lot better but cant due to constraints beyond your control.

I don't want people to take the above the wrong way, I have a great family and job that I enjoy and I'm very appreciative of both, I just wish I could get cycling fit in their as well.


Carrie Cheadle replies:

You are not the only person to struggle with the balance of training and life. Unfortunately, although we'd like to think we can fit it all in - the reality for many of us is that we have to compromise.

Hypertension and the competitive cyclist

Fitness experts,

I am a 51 year-old male and a lifelong competitive and fitness cyclist; a year ago, I was diagnosed with hypertension.

I ride an honest 4000-6000 miles/year, principally at training and racing tempos; I've been riding since I was in seventh grade. And, I've ridden around France, and across this continent in both x and y axes. I can't imagine life without my bicycle.

I have successfully adjusted my lifestyle with meticulous diligence, and now eat a no-cheating Dash diet, drink no alcohol, and am learning yoga and breathing techniques to deal with stress. I must say I haven't tamed stress. I am taking Diovan at 80mg, and have just started Xanax at a very small dose for anxiety.

My cholesterol is 149, with all its individual factors beyond excellent. My b.p. at the Dr.'s office is now typically 60/100 to 78/118; although it does elevate in response to stress, which we are trying to deal with. My doctor is a D. O. with the Cleveland Clinic, and I feel well-tended to overall.

But he can't answer all my questions. I want to know as much as I can about how to accommodate this condition and my cycling. I want to keep cycling, even racing a little if possible. I want to know more, so that I can ride without fear. What do athletes like me do in this situation? Are there sports doctors or specific techniques that can help me? My life and my feeling of well-being are very important to me and my loved ones. Please guide me if you can.

M. Jordan Bir

Kelby Bethards replies:

Without knowing to much about you, it seems that your blood pressure is fine on the Diovan. I have had more than one cyclist that has needed to take blood pressure meds but still rides competitively. You just want to make sure that when you see your doctor, he/she does not give you something that will decrease your blood pressure by taking blood volume (diuretic) and make sure the medicine you take doesn't limit your heart rate. You should be fine on the Diovan.

Training while on medication

Thanks for all the useful advice offered through this forum. I've learned a lot from reading it every week, but haven't found answers questions that have been puzzling me.

I'm 50, a woman, 5'4", 150 lbs. Four years ago I returned to road cycling after a hiatus of 20 years. I've always loved cycling, so enjoyment inspired me to get back into it, but also I had a goal to become a strong rider, get fit, and lose weight. In season (I live in snowy upstate NY) I ride between five and six days a week for at least an hour a time, often for up to three hours. Terrain is hilly, with moderately steep grades, and it's frequently windy. Soon after returning to cycling, I was diagnosed with mild hypertension and my doctor put me on 6.25 mg Coreg (carvadilol) BID, which has a moderating effect on heart rate.

This winter I got a cycle ergometer for off-season fitness and weight control. Because I don't have to worry about traffic etc., I can concentrate on form and work-out in a systematic way. I try to ride the ergometer an hour or one-and-a-half hours a day, four to six days a week. On some days, though, I have a hard time getting my heart rate up into my mid- and upper aerobic range. In fact, I sometimes have a hard time getting it into range at all. Yet on those days it can feel as if I'm pushing with the same effort as on the days when my HR is well up there.

My questions, then:

1. Is it possible the medication I take is causing this failure to get into range, or is it that some days I'm just not physiologically sound?

2. If my HR is in the lower half of the aerobic range, am I burning fewer calories than if it's higher, even if I'm "sweating" as much as on those "hard" days?

And there's one more question, only tangentially related: To go beyond the level of skill and ability I'm at now, I'll have to push harder, which will mean keeping energy up for longer rides. But I want to lose 20 more pounds, and my weight has plateaued. How can I keep energy up (eg, eating fig bars and energy drinks when riding) AND balance effort with calories so that the pounds come off? There's a limit to how many hours a day I can devote to cycling, so riding more than two hours more than a couple times a week is difficult.

Thanks for any advice,

Kelby Bethards replies:


Influenza question

I am a male age 34 road racer. I wrote an annual training plan using Joe Friel's book and train between 8.5 to 18 hours per week. I just completed my Base 3 training period and I came down with the flu. I had fever for two or three days as high as 103 degrees followed up by a deep tight cough and nasal congestion. I sensed the illness coming on and took two days off before it really hit (wife and kids got it first) and I have done nothing but rest since. I know to stay off the bike until my lungs clear and I am up for it, but how do I get back into the Build Phase? I know I will be out for at least a week or even two. Do I need to rewind a bit and do more Base training or can I resume about where I left off? Is this type of illness difficult to overcome for an endurance athlete?

Phoenix, AZ

Kelby Bethards replies:


Appetite suppressants


I have recently seen several people test positive for appetite suppression drugs. While I don't understand why someone would take anything that is banned I am especially baffled by appetite suppression pills.

It doesn't really make sense to me. Your food is your fuel and my experience as a racer is it's ok to eat a bit more as long as it's mainly vegetables.

Obviously it's banned for a reason but I can't figure out why. Could you explain the physiology behind why someone would want to do this?

Kelby Bethards replies:


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