Fitness questions and answers for March 21, 2005

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.

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.

Shoulder surgery
Bunions and cycling
Upper calf pain
Pedaling question
Achilles Pain
High heart rate while riding in tropical countries
AT LT VT clarification
Estimating power output
The age old Crank length issue
Saddle boils

Shoulder surgery

I am a 55 male who has cycled for pleasure for about the last 25 years or so. Nothing competitive, just organised rides 3-4 times per year (50-75 miles) plus regular riding during Spring, Summer and Fall, mostly on weekends, but a little during the week as well when time permits. In Feb 2004 I came down with adhesive capsulitis ("frozen shoulder") in my right shoulder. I had the same thing in 2000 in my left shoulder which I was able to overcome with physical therapy. However, physical therapy did not work in 2004 and I finally had to have surgery (subacromial decompression) in June 2004. Healing took a long time such that I did not cycle at all that year. After my surgery, the surgeon said that I had arthritis and some loss of cartilege in the shoulder. My shoulder has regained about 75% of its range of motion but still hurts to a small extent all the time and is "not right" when I have tried to cycle a few times in 2005 - short distances - but it causes enough discomfort that it basically prohibits me from riding.

I have two questions for any doctors or trainers with any knowledge of adhesive capsulitis, subacromial decompression (and post-surgery prognosis):

1) Could the years of cycling have caused the arthritis and/or cartilage loss in the shoulder (from the constant leaning over)?
2) Will I ever be able to cycle again? I love no other sport like cycling but I think I have lost it forever.

Tom Atherholt

Moorestown, NJ, USA

Steve Hogg Replies

G'day Tom,

Bunions and cycling

Firstly, some background on me - I'm a 41 year old male, 6 feet tall and weigh about 165lbs. I've been road racing/riding for about 10 years now. No chronic pains, just some typical on and off stuff. Only issue that I really have are numb toes some times. I have really bad knees from years of soccer and general youth sports. I use Look pedals with Sidi shoes (with sole inserts in them).

About a year ago I had a bike fitting and they suggested that I widen my Q factor due to my bow legs. I am quite bow legged…I got a pair of the Look CX6 pedal so that I could play around with my Q-factor as suggested. In general I've been pretty happy with the wider Q suggested - I'm getting a little more power and in general feel stronger in TT type efforts. I think it's helped me get a little more out of each pedal stroke.

Now to the issue that has recently popped up. I have bunions on both feet. It runs in my family, and most of my brothers and sisters have the same thing. They never used to really bother me, but lately I've found it somewhat painful. I was curious to know your thoughts are about bunions and cycling. Could the recent wider Q factor have something to do with it? It seems like it might if my foot was now at an angle to the pedal which is causing more pressure on the inside of my foot versus across the whole ball of my foot. I wouldn't swear to it, but I think while my left bunion is getting worse while my right one seems to be getting better. So maybe the Q factor helped on one side but caused a problem on the other. Would the Lemond wedges be worth a try to correct the foot pedal angle? I've tried to adjust the cleat forwards and backwards using the tips you've posted here in the past to address my numb toes and it didn't seem to make much difference in the bunion pain, but like I said it is a recent thing and I've not tired to much to address it. Just looking for some things to try in bike set up, equipment changes or preventive off the bike work - thanks.

Mike Steeves

Steve Hogg Replies

G'day Mike,

Upper calf pain

My problem is I cannot raise my seat to the height that it should be. Every bike fitter I've ever seen instantly wants to raise my seat 30-40mm.

The higher position "feels right" and results in a measured 15-20Watt increase in power. The problem is my right calve rejects the higher position. The dull pain/strain is located about 70mm below my knee, at about the top of the muscle belly. If you were to sight down my lower leg and consider my foot to be at 12 o'clock, the pain is at the 7 to 8 o'clock position (right calf).

The pain is worse when seated and/or pedaling heel-down. The pain is not felt when out of the saddle and much less if I consciously pedal toe-down. I must also mention, my right foot naturally wants to rotate outward (by 10mm measured at the heel.) I compensate by rotating my Look cleat inward.

After my bike fitting, it was discovered my right leg is 6mm longer than the left. A shim was added to the left shoe to compensate. I had custom footbeds made. I am told I pedal toe down on the left, and heel down on the right. Years of compensating for the longer right leg I'm sure.

I'm getting frustrated because I know there's a lot more power to be had. What do you suggest? I have good flexibility and stretch after every ride. The only thing I really haven't played with is pedal Q-factor. If my foot externally rotates by 10mm, it would seem to me I would want to move the pedal away from the crank by 10mm. But that's making the assumption the pedal is at the correct location for a neutral foot rotation in the first place. Any advice would be of help -

Jim Breen

Boston, Massachusetts

Steve Hogg Replies

G'day Jim,

Pedaling question

I am a relative newcomer to cycling, and I have a pedal stroke question. When I watch racing on TV, it appears as if there is an inward slant to the racers' knees towards the middle of the bike when they pedal. When I am on my bike, my knees seem to be exactly perpendicular to the ground and my pedal stroke seems to be exactly up and down. Is there something with the fit of my bike that is wrong, or perhaps a problem with my pedaling stroke? Thanks for any information you can offer.



Steve Hogg Replies

G'day MC,

Achilles Pain

I have just purchased a new bike with standard geometry, which I was professionally fitted for. Previously I rode a compact geometry frame for a number of years, and have been riding 300 a week for a while with no issues at all. I have had the bike for 2 weeks and have done about 500k's. However, ever since the first ride, I have experienced achilles pain on my right leg. Hills and high cadence seem to worsen the situation. By way of history, I broke the tibia on this leg 5 years ago. It doesn't have the same range of movement, and my wife (a physio) measured it and reckons it's a little shorter than my left leg. I am training for the L'etape du tour in July and cannot afford to blow my achilles up (and end up with crepitis). I have had the following recommended by the Bike Physio (in the absence of a full bike position and fit assessment): a) Lower the seat 1mm and b) get some extra insole material and insert it under the insole in the right shoe (to lengthen the leg etc). Do you have any other suggestions that may help in the very short term.

Andrew Cowlishaw

Glen Waverley, Victoria, Australia

Steve Hogg Replies

G'day Andrew,

High heart rate while riding in tropical countries

Hi there!

I am a 32 year old male, riding about 8,000 - 10,000 km/year, sometimes 15,000 such as during the year of PBP.

I have been cycling since about 16 years of age, and have always experienced higher heart rates readings than all my mates, at all levels and intensity of riding . For instance, when just doing long rides at medium intensity, all my friends are at 120-130, while I will be at 145-165. When hills come, I will be able to maintain for hours 185-190 while my friends will be only at 170-175. During the alpine classic ride (held in Bright, Australia) my reading averaged 176 for 10 hours!

I have a Max heart rate of 204, recorded in a lab, and a max power of 420 kw.

I also noticed that when riding in cold and mildly cold weather, my heart rate was much lower than in South east Asia (Singapore, for instance), by at least 20 bpm.

My question is:

I have been riding in Singapore for about two years, with hot humid weather. When real speed in the bunch comes, my heart rate goes too high, and I can't follow properly, since I reach my max when I should be only at 185-190 - and when the sprints arrive, I have nothing left. How can I train better for speed? For endurance, I can ride miles and miles at medium - low intensity, but when speed comes, I'm finished! Please advise of any problems - thanks!

Jean-Francois Torrelle


Michael Smartt Replies


AT LT VT clarification

I was rereading the fitness question from February 7 today as it got referenced regarding AT LT and VT. In it, Dario Fredrick lays out zones based on %MSS. I was looking over the numbers and noticed they were continuous; that is to say no percentile blocks were left out. As I'm sure you're aware, there is a school of people who believe there is a no man's land between z3 and z4, when calculated from max hr - it usually ends up being between 80 and 85% - z4 starts at 85% and this is where power/lactate/speed intervals should begin. Am I to interpret Dario's zone table as saying that such a no man's land does not exist? Is it different for max hr vs. mss-based training? More information would be appreciated, thanks very much.

Carl Bradtmiller

Dario Fredrick Replies

Hi Carl,

Estimating power output


Is there a simple formula to estimate power output for when I am climbing/doing intervals? I was recently doing some big ring strength intervals and reckon that these should be useable as approximations for power output. I have a Polar 710i HRM which gives me a good approximation for gradient.
Let's say I am approx 74kg, and my training bike is around 12kg loaded up. If I go up a 1.24 mile hill with a 3.7% gradient at 13.5mph surely all the inputs are there to approximate the power output. I am sure I read a piece on here about some time ago and would appreciate some help. Thanks

Ian Jackson

Dario Fredrick Replies

Hi Ian,

The age old Crank length issue

Hi There,
Yes, I'm going to bring it up again - the age old issue of crank length. But rather than going into the scientific nature of the whole topic, I guess I just want a simple answer with a bit of advice thrown in.

I'm riding a 56cm frame with full Dura Ace components, but the crank arms are 175s. I'm 5'9" and a bit and weigh 68kgs, (not a lot of fat!) Also, inside leg measurement is the bog standard 32" (going on my Levi Jeans!). I ride several times a week and mainly train for triathlon disciplines from sprint distance to half ironman and with the eventual goal (two years) of a full Ironman. I do enjoy riding with the cycle club on a Sunday too, and hope to do more training in winter and join in some cycle races. There you go - your typical nine to fiver who after work is out there trying to get fitter.

Looking at the problem, are the crank arms too long? If so, (which they probably are) should I change to 172.5s? But the more important question is - if I stuck with 175's (cause a new crank ain't cheap) am I losing power, speed or efficiency with what I have at the moment? Is it worth forking out the dosh for a new crankset? Have you any recommendations? I guess what I want to know is am I going to notice an increase in power output?

Dean Mullin

Dario Fredrick Replies

Hi Dean,

Saddle boils

Hi - can you please tell me if there is anything on the market that helps clear up saddle boils? I occasionally suffer from these and they are extremely painful. Your advice would be welcome, thanks!

Robert Sheppard

Scott Saifer Replies

Hi Rob,


Despite good diet and a lot of exercise I still have high cholesterol, would lowering my cholesterol with medication help my blood function better in respect to cycling performance? Thanks,

Chris Heintz

Scott Saifer Replies

Hi Chris, The short answer is probably not. It is unlikely that lowering your cholesterol levels will in itself improve your cycling performance. In the mid-90s I knew two bike racers who trained together: One an accomplished cat 2 with very high cholesterol, the other a mediocre three who trained as much or more but had very low cholesterol. This doesn't mean that I counsel you against taking the cholesterol lowering drugs. If your doctor thinks they are right for you, take them.

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