Form & Fitness Q & A
Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 (www.carriecheadle.com) 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 (www.davepalese.com) 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 (www.trainright.com) 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 (www.velo-fit.com) 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 (www.physiopt.com) 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 (www.cyclefitcentre.com) 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 (www.wholeathlete.com) 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 (www.wenzelcoaching.com) 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 (www.wenzelcoaching.com) 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 (www.coloradopremiertraining.com) 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 (www.cycle2max.com) 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 www.cycle2max.com website.
Richard Stern (www.cyclecoach.com) 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 (www.cyclecoach.com) 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 (www.cyclecoach.com) 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 (www.elitefitcoach.com) 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 MyEnduranceCoach.com, 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.
Hip flexor pain
I'm a long-distance runner. After my 50 mile trail race this summer, my chiropractor had me stop running for awhile because the extensive downhill running had banged up my hips. Consequently I've been riding my bike a lot more now, and have gradually over the course of three months or so brought my long ride up to 80 miles and my weekly total in the 100 mile range. So naturally I signed up for an Ironman. The point of all this is that even though I have been measured and fitted to my bicycle by the local bike shop and their computer-aided technology, and had my cleats aligned via R.A.D. I'm still getting hip pain - not so much in the joint itself as after the run, but on the outside of the hips.
I'm not sure exactly where the hip flexor IS - I always thought it was on the front of the thigh and its function was to lift your thigh in relation to your waistline. The pain I'm getting is more towards the outside. So of course I want you to tell me the way to get ride of the pain! Specifics - I have no leg length discrepancy (per chiropractor); I do have a history of ITBS from running (usually relieved by proper stretching and this feels different and not so much outside as that); decent hamstring and low back flexibility. I'm riding in Look pedals, Sidi shoes (size 42), 5'6" 140lbs female. I toe in while running and riding and my left foot turns in more than my right, but supposedly my cleats were aligned for this. If you have any more suggestions as to what I can try, I'd like to here them. I have noticed that you recommend placing the cleat so the ball of the foot is in front of the axle, so that might be one thing to try if you think it might help.
Celeste Walz then responded:
The pain is while riding, and after riding. I've dropped the run mileage way down and haven't noticed any hip pain while running. For example, I rode 70 miles yesterday, aerobic pace, nothing fast or fancy but by the end of the ride the outside of my hips were sore. While driving later that day it was hard to lift my leg while seated. (If I would have a clutch, I would have been in trouble). Today I was noticeable sore, so I skipped my planned run and swam instead.
I hope you can help me. I cycle about 300 to 500km a week and have no problems at all on the bike. However, I would like to do triathlons, but every time I start to do any running I get localized stabbing pains in one leg or the other, anywhere from the top of my Achilles area to the middle of my calf. This problem started about ten years ago, but it has become so frequent that running has become impossible. It isn't predictable in what part of my calf or which leg it will happen, except that I can feel it coming on and then it suddenly hits. Sometimes it starts when I just go out and do a painfully slow two or three kilometers. Sometimes I can do a few runs and then it hits. I have been to a couple of doctors and they had absolutely no advice other than "don't run". I wear new, comfortable running shoes and have no pronation or unusual sole-wear problems. I don't know if this is relevant, but I am a mid to fore-foot striker and my old running shoes have very little heel wear. I have tried heel-toeing, but the problem still occurs and my knees become a little achy.
I hope this is enough information for you to help me. Thanks a lot.
Greg then responded:
Thanks for your reply. Yes, the cramps do occur without having gone out for a ride.
Big hands in Deda bars
I have been using an FSA 200 anatomical drop 42 c-to-c bar for a while but find the drop section inappropriate for my hands, and this was confirmed by John Kennedy who I saw recently; he recommended the Deda deep (145mm drop, 95mm reach), or shallow drop (135mm drop, 80mm reach) in the 44 outside-outside bars. I am an A grade racer who trains largely alone and will be using Campag chorus on one set and Ultegra 9 on the other set of bars; returning or trialing the bars is not really an option because they will come direct from the dealer not through the LBS. I prefer the idea of the shallow drop because it would be easier to spend more time in the drops, but I have abnormally large hands for my height (177cm tall that is) and 95mm across the palm just proximal to the bases of the phalanges 2-5 with the broadest aspect of my palm being 115mm across (base of 1st to transverse measurement). My main concern is with my hand size, will I fit the shallow drop or will it just be uncomfortable and the deep a better option. Any help or advice greatly appreciated.
Cycling or running for weight loss
I have experienced a shoulder injury and 12 weeks post surgery I can start to take full view of my weight gain. Is running or cycling the quickest method of safe weight loss? My thoughts are that while cycling provides a very safe and reliable method it does not provide 'the' quickest method. I have found this question very difficult to research in terms of a definitive answer. If you guys could assist I would be thankful.
Can you shed some light on whether or not cycling can cause or exacerbate this syndrome and what can one do to try and alleviate the discomfort? Thanks and enjoy reading your advise.
Roger Daniel Pagel
I want to thank you for all the information you present in this forum. I have a question which I hope you can answer. I have been riding and racing on the road and track for 25+ years. I am 45, 84kg, 174cm, 46.5% haematocrit, resting HR 37, LTHR 180, max HR 195, peak power (CP0.2 =1600w), and average power (CP60=300w). Needless to say at my weight and average power, I am best suited to sprint events and flat short races. I have been treated for exercise induced asthma for over five years and recently I was diagnosed with intermittent tachycardia (possibly exacerbated by my albuterol inhaler) and mild mitral valve regurgitation.
My cardiologist guesses this makes my heart 5-10% less efficient. He performed the usual battery of tests (ECG, isotope stress test, and ultrasound), which he plans to perform again in a year barring deteriorating condition. He told me to continue to exercise, but he had no prescription regarding intensity. So my question to you is should I limit my exercise regime (weight lifting and cycling 6-12 hours/week) temporarily, or otherwise, and if so is there a percentage of max HR limit that would provide benefit without excessive risk and still allow me to train and race. As it is right now I am pretty comfortable doing 2+ hour rides w/ the middle hour at 165 - 183 bpm and the final sprint to the high 180s. I am no longer close to a velodrome so I planned to focus on short flat circuit races next year.
My workouts would focus more on repeatability (sprinting out of corners) instead of 200m peak power, but I know from past experience these workouts can be very stressful and hard to recover from. Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.
Seat or pedal stroke
I noticed that I bounce a lot on my seat when I keep up a faster tempo. Is it because my seat is too low or because I have a bad pedal stroke?
Do you know why the manufacturers made all the mtb handlebar with some (3-5 degree) sweep?
If I sit on my bike, and try to hold my bar relaxed and in the most comfortable position bended elbows, relaxed shoulders, etc), my wrist angle not near the anatomically normal position on the bar. Riser bars have even more sweep, maybe because the width of the bar. I guess the manufacturers trying to follow an arc-like reach, but like me with 50cm (side to side) shoulder width and 60cm long bar, the back sweep is to much. Completely flat bars can be a solution, or maybe special bar facing the same angles (3-5degree) front and downward? Thanks.
Leg length discrepancy
Hi, I read with great interest your advice provided on the cyclingnews website for the fellow who had one arm shorter than the other by 7 inches. It was a very good solution and thought that you may have some advice for someone who has one leg shorter than the other.
Problem: My left leg is shorter by 1/2 an inch.
Current solution: I use in my Nike cycling shoe a heel lift inserted within the shoe. Problem is that there's not much room in those shoes for the lift and my foot, as a result my heel easily comes out of the shoe.
Bike stores have recommend that I use a lift underneath the cleat of the shoe. I've tried that before and could never get used to the odd angle of the foot required to pedal evenly. Other stores have recommended that the best solution is an orthopedic cycling shoe. Yet, who manufacturers such cycling shoes and at reasonable price. What do you recommend?
Christian P. Brun
Christian then responded:
Thank you Steve I just read your email this morning and will try out your suggestions. This is the best advice I ever received!
It would also be very valuable for the Cyclingnews website, I'm sure many more people have the same problem as I do. As a matter of fact I remember years back reading an article on Francesco Moser preparing for the hour record and his doctor at the time (Conconni I think was the name) had discovered that one of his legs was stronger than the other due to a leg length discrepancy.
Efficient climber or better position?
I have a question about efficiency while climbing. I am a 150lb, 5'8" recreational road rider who rides for fitness. In the summer, I eventually get up to just over 100 miles per week. After a good deal of tweaking last year, I'm comfortable on the bike and I like to think my position is dialed in. My strength, if I have one, is climbing. I always easily drop my riding partners on a climb of any significance, and they always catch up to me on the descent/flats. As the season progressed this year, I started wondering if it wasn't so much that I'm a good climber, but that I'm simply in a better position WHEN climbing. I came to this conclusion as I have been unable to make any progress while riding on the flats. I'm always pulling up the rear of any pace line, and I dread taking pulls. I just don't feel like I have any power. As soon as the road heads up though, I am dropping guys again. Could it be that my setup and/or position changes that much on an incline, giving me more power than I have in my "flats" position, or is this just a consequence of being better in one discipline than another? Most of my climbing, by the way, is seated with hands on the tops of the bars. I feel like if I had the power on the flats that I have in climbs, I could be a much better rider. Thanks, I really enjoy your Q&As each week.
Lawrence then responded:
Thank you Steve. Your message does ring a bell, specifically in relation to seat setback. I have 2 bikes, one with a Fiz'ik Arione, the other with a Fiz'ik Aliante. Most of this season, I have ridden the Aliante, which as you know, is more like the old Concor saddles in that it has a slight dip up in the back. The Arione, on the other hand, is long and flat, offering much more varied riding positions.
It could be that the Aliante has been "holding" me more forward than necessary on the flats. I'll give it a push back (and perhaps down just a bit, to compensate) and see if I notice a difference. I think you may be on to something here! Many thanks for your quick response,
Pain on side of knees
I am a 46 male 5'10"- 210 pds( I know too much weight but I am working on it) who rides the road. I have been riding for 14 yrs ,centuries and club rides. These rides are done as strong as possible. I used to have pain all around my knees but after reading this column and following Steve Hogg's advice I have solved these problems. I would consider myself a spinning type of rider no real big gears but I have started to do more short rides with slightly bigger gears . My problem is that 2 days after a strong ride with my son ( you got to watch these young kids) the side of my knees are sore. If you were looking at your knee cap from above it would be the right side near the top of the triangle on the right knee and just the opposite on the left. I have movement with my feet when they are at the bottom of the pedal stoke ( heels move equal distance from side to side) and my knees do not splay out to the side . Is this just my body getting used to the bigger gears or do I have a set up problem? Thanks.
Uneven cleat wear and power
I have a question about cleats that wear unevenly and what that might indicate about power output. My Look Delta cleats (the floating style) always wear much faster on the outside rear corner, the left cleat faster than the right, to the point that the inner corner is barely worn when I have to replace the cleats. I have tried to use the LeWedges to correct this problem, but that seemed only to increase the wear. I'm on my third pair of cleats this season, which seems a bit excessive since I only train and race 6-8 hours a week. I have very flat feet and wear orthotics in both my cycling shoes and my street shoes.
My question: would it be better to reverse the LeWedges so that my foot tilts towards the crank, rather than away as their literature suggests It seems that putting all of the force onto the outer part of the pedal would make for a less powerful stroke, but I'm not sure I grasp the physics involved. Thanks and thanks for all the great advice,
I have a weird condition that makes me think I'm going to have a heart attack. I ride to work every day about 40 minutes each way up some big hills; I try to keep my heart rate as high as I can at about 150bpm but not to the point that I will pass out. My problem is when I'm at rest about 45bpm, I sometimes get a sharp pain in my chest and/or shortness of breath - this really freaks me out. I have no problems while doing the workout, only at rest. I think I might not be breathing right during the ride. The funny thing is when I don't exercise much this doesn't seem to happen at all. I'm 33, 84kg and about 180cm tall. My doctor says that I might be over working; I don't think this is normal.
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