Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for December 15, 2004
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
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
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
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.
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.
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
a resource for cyclists, multisport athletes & endurance coaches around
the globe, specializing in helping cycling and multisport athletes find
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.
Cross-training interval overload?
Stationary trainer fitness
Omega 3 fats
In between bike sizes
Saddle angle and orthotic inserts
Sports drinks and dental health
Cross-training interval overload?
For a couple decades, I've always considered high-intensity interval workouts
to be something a cyclist would do a couple times a week - maybe three if they
were in better shape than I am.
But having recently broadened my athletic horizons I'm wondering how multi-sport
athletes should be monitoring high-intensity overload.
Examples: Join the local masters swim club and you will find that intervals
are all these folks do for just under an hour six or seven days a week. For
speed skaters, ice time is harder to come by than pool time is for swimmers,
so intense interval workouts are the preferred approach to maximizing the investment
in structured training.
So (and I haven't even mentioned running!), say you want to give some kind
of nod to the fact that cycling is your favourite sport: Now you are looking
at high-heart-rate intervals almost every day.
Is this a bad thing, or does the principle of specificity allow distinctions
between the maximal efforts of different sports?
Dave Palese replies:
My experience with some of the sports you mention is zero, but I'll give
you my opinion and thoughts.
When your training plan enters a period that includes training at high intensity
(super threshold efforts) it is important that you give you body enough time
between these sessions so it can recovery, rebuild and be in the best shape
possible to do it all again at your next high intensity workout.
There are differences between each of the sports you mention, the damage
that is done during a high intensity session, and how the body is fatigued
following those sessions.
The best thing any athlete can do to monitor overload, is listen to their
body. Track your resting HR; pay attention to how your body feels overall,
and so on.
The mistake many athletes make is doing workouts on a schedule, regardless
of how they feel and how their body is reacting to the stress.
Stationary trainer fitness
I have recently switched to full on 8-5pm office hours. I live in Salt Lake
City and day light here in the winter is non existent after 5pm. I am a 6-3
200lb male. I do a little racing and a lot of mtn biking both downhill and cross
country. I just want to be doing the most effective fitness workouts possible.
I have a Blackburn magnetic trainer. how does a brother stay fit riding this
thing in his garage in the winter?
Jon Heidemann replies:
Generally speaking, the key to riding that trainer in your garage (multiple
times per week throughout the winter) for fitness is your ability to keep
yourself entertained while looking at the backside of your garage door. While
this answer seems a little humorous (at least to me as I write this), there
is a distinct level of seriousness to it.
Even the most motivated of individuals will begin to hate riding indoors
after some time. Regardless of the benefit your trainer rides get you, if
you begin to get bored with them, it is likely you will start to skip them.
As a coach that works with many "working" athletes in the Rocky Mountain Region
of the US, this is a scenario I am familiar with. I suggest the following:
1. Recognize that over the same time periods, riding on the trainer type
that you mentioned is generally more physically difficult than riding outside
because of two major issues: there is nothing forcing you to stop and coasting
is almost non-existent. Also, there is usually less visual stimulation involved
with riding indoors. Having said all that, I suggest planning to spend a little
less time on your trainer than you would for a similar ride outside. I usually
use a 60~70% rule and I have seen similar coach's suggest the same thing.
2. Have a focused purpose to each training session inside. Interval workouts
on trainers can help the time to pass quicker and fit nicely with a focused
approached to training. For situations where riding inside is the normal weekly
routine, I suggest a maximum of 2 focused workouts on the trainer per work
week (I assume that most weekend days, you are able to get outside, so for
this situation, we are talking 2 out of 2, 3 or 4 rides). For the rest of
the indoor workouts I suggest having what I call a more chaotic approach (described
3. Boredom and motivation can be managed if you mix some type of auditory
or visual (or both) stimulus into these sessions. A favorite mix of music
or race video can help to drive differing intensity levels without having
to look at a stop watch for timing purposes. I realize that timing has its
definite usefulness and purpose to specific workouts, but sometimes it is
more important to do what you can rather than choose to not do anything at
all. Matching intensity changes to rhythm changes in music or situation changes
in race videos are great ways to implement what I term as a chaotic approach
to indoor training. You are essentially letting the stimuli dictate your riding
intensity without you having to choose to do so yourself.
4. The specifics of your workouts should be based on your goals and needs
as an athlete. Consulting with a coach will help you to better determine the
specificity of your workouts. However, following the above guidelines will
help you to stick to that plan.
Good luck with your training, riding, and racing.
[You might also have a read of the winter training features we ran last year,
which start here - Ed]
Omega 3 fats
I've been told that there is some new research into omega-3 fats increasing
athletic performance by adjusting cell metabolism. I did a search but can't
find information other than this
So what's the good oil on omega-3? Or is it just another performance snake
Pam Hinton replies:
Omega-3 fatty acids are "good oil" when it comes to lowering cardiovascular
disease risk, but may be snake oil with regard to athletic performance. The
term "omega-3" (also referred to as n3) has to do with the chemical structure
of the fatty acids. Because omega-3 fatty acids cannot be synthesized in the
body, they are called "essential fatty acids." Dietary sources of omega-3
fatty acids include fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and canola oil. Eicosapentenoic
acid (EPA) and docohexenoic acid (DHA) are the most common omega-3 fatty acids
in the diet; purified EPA and DHA are also sold as dietary supplements. Regular
consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular
disease by lowering serum cholesterol and triglycerides and by reducing inflammation
in the lining of the blood vessels.
Omega-3 fatty acids alter cell metabolism by activating genes that are needed
for cellular transport and use of fat. Omega-3 fatty acids promote the cellular
uptake of fat by increasing the activity of the enzyme (lipoprotein lipase)
that releases fatty acids from triglycerides and by increasing the amount
of fatty acid binding protein, which carries fatty acids across the cell membrane
into the cells. Omega-3 fatty acids also facilitate production of energy from
fat, by increasing transport of fatty acids into the mitochondria where they
are burned to make ATP. Aerobic exercise training produces similar adaptations
in fat metabolism and it appears that omega-3 fatty acids do not provide any
additional benefits in fit individuals (or trained lab rats). There is no
direct evidence that omega-3 fatty acids improve athletic performance in humans.
In one study of highly trained soccer players, 10 weeks of omega-3 supplementation
in the form of fish oil had no effect on maximal aerobic power, anaerobic
power or running performance.
Regardless of whether or not omega-3 fatty acids improve performance, they
are needed to optimize health and may reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis,
asthma, cancer, as well as heart disease. According to the Food and Nutrition
Board of the Institute of Medicine, adult males should consume 1.6 g per day
and adult females 1.1 g per day. Four ounces of cold water fish such as salmon,
swordfish, or bluefish contains about 1.5 g omega-3 fatty acids. One ounce
of walnuts or flaxseeds (or one tablespoon of the oil) has about 2 grams of
omega-3 fatty acids. If the claims of improved athletic performance from omega-3
fatty acids resonate with you, I'd say go for it-you probably couldn't find
more beneficial snake oil this side of Katmandu.
In between bike sizes
A simple question relating to frame size. When choosing a frame, is it better
to buy the smaller of the two bikes you can fit and use longer controls (stem,
post) or get the largest size that fits without being too big? Case in point:
I'm 6'1" with a 33" inseam, a relatively long torso, 189lbs and a cat 3 road
racer. I prescribe to the "long as possible" on the bike concept of fit. I'm
currently on a compact 58cm Klein that has a 58.5cm TT, and using a 120/-6 stem.
I feel great on the bike in all riding conditions, but I'm upgrading to a Trek
5.9 frame and want to maintain the same overall feel on the bike. The 60cm Trek
(that Trek measures center to top of the seat collar) has the top tube length
I want, but obviously is much taller than my current ride. Is it smarter to
go with the shorter and smaller 58cm Trek frame and use a longer stem (130)
since it's what I'm "used" to? or do I go with the bike that technically fits
Steve Hogg replies:
The basic picture is this: Klein on their non-compact frames measure the
seat tube from centre of bottom bracket to a line running horizontally across
the seat tube from the top of the top tube if the diagram on their website
is accurate. On your compact Klein, I assume that your size 58 cm [effective]
has a hypothetical level top tube seat tube length measured in the same fashion.
The Trek 5.9 in 60 cm is measured as you say, from centre of bottom bracket
to top of seat collar. That means that the 60 cm Trek more or less equates
with the 58 cm Klein in terms of seat tube length if both were measured in
the same fashion.
The Trek in that size is 5 mm shorter in the top tube, 582 mm versus 587
mm but also has a seat tube angle 0.5 degrees more relaxed; 73 degrees versus
73. 5 degrees for the Klein. The practical effect of this is that if you want
to maintain the same positional parameters on the Trek as you have on the
Klein, then the seat will have to move forward that half a degree to counter
the effect of the slightly slacker seat tube angle. Assuming you are using
the same seat and seat post, you will have to move the seat forward in the
clamp about 7mm [ based on guesstimate of typical seat height for this size
frame]. This has the implication of shortening your effective top tube by
approximately 5 - 6 mm when that seat movement is factored down to the top
What all of this adds up to is that if you want to maintain the same positional
parameters that you have on the 58 cm Klein when changing to the Trek 5.9
you will need to increase your stem length to 130mm.
I would not recommend that you choose the 58 cm Trek which is your second
option, because not only will you lose 2 cm of head tube height, but if the
seat tube angle and top tube length are factored in, then you would need a
140mm stem to maintain the same positional parameters.
The choice is clear, best of luck with it.
Mike Faello responded:
First and foremost, thank you for your reply! I can't tell you how impressed
I am with Cycling news and the speed of your response! Regarding your comments,
I have to go with a new post since the Trek uses a different size (27.2 vs.
31.6). I was using the FSA K-Force Lite post on the Klein which has a fairly
extensive setback, and on the Trek will be using a XXX Lite post, which is a
zero offset post. I know this has the effect of shortening my riding compartment
by eliminating the setback, but hopefully will help with the more relaxed Trek
seat angle. The bottom line is I feel comfortable in my decision on the size
frame I ordered (which should be arriving today!). Thanks again for your help
Steve! Any other comments you have would be appreciated.
Steve Hogg replies:
The simple solution is to stick with an FSA K -Force post in 27.2mm with
the new bike. That way all you have to do is as described yesterday. The K
- Force has potential for 22mm more rearward offset than a Campag or Shimano
post and so effectively slackens the seat tube angle. With the zero offset
post you plan to use, the positional change is going to be a LOT more than
the half a degree difference in seat tube angles. I have assumed that you
want to maintain the same body position based on what you said in your previous
mail. If not, go for it; if so, stick with a 27.2 mm K - Force.
Saddle angle and orthotic inserts
I recently had orthotics put into my shoes to deal with supernated joints (problems
with ankle function) and to balance out a leg length differential. Prior to
this I kept my saddle dead level, using a spirit level when changing fore/aft.
Now, when level it feels like I am falling forwards and so I have had to raise
the nose up. Presumably this is all down to some change in balance / leg function
related to the orthotics. I raised my saddle slightly (2-3mm) as the orthotics
raise both heels by at least that to cover the sideways adjustments.
I'd appreciate any comments you have - having spent about a year getting my
position perfect I no longer feel as comfortable on the bike.
Are there any other considerations I need to make?
Steve Hogg replies:
From what you have said, it sounds very like your orthoses were prescribed
for walking/running shoes rather than specifically for cycling. Is this correct?
When as you say, a person has a difference in leg length [ and I assume we
are talking a measurable rather than functional difference in length] the
usual way this is treated with an orthotic is to fit a heel lift equivalent
to a proportion of the difference in leg length to the shorter leg. The heel
is the first point of contact in a walking stride so this approach makes sense.
With cycling however, the point of contact with the pedal is the forefoot,
so building up the heel of the orthotic in the shorter leg is of minimal help.
This same reasoning make your rationale for raising the seat a bit shaky
unless there is an equivalent build up under the fore foot. Are the orthoses
full length of partial length?
Raising the heel as your orthotics have done will change your pedal stroke
somewhat. Typically you will drop the heel more under load in as you now have
what amounts to a higher heel lift last in the shoe. With a higher heel lift
the typical response from the rider is to drop the heel more coming off top
dead centre under load so as to get behind and over the pedal axle at the
earliest point in the power phase of the pedal stroke. With the build up in
the heel of the shoe there is a higher starting point for the heel at the
top of the stroke and so the heel needs to drop more than would be the case
without that build up.How much you are likely to be doing this I can only
guess at. If this is happening you are likely to have to lower the seat slightly
rather than raise it a little as you have. This could explain your feeling
of falling forward. Try dropping your seat 5 mm and see if your balanced feeling
returns. The above assumes you respond typically to the changes in your shoes.
If you respond atypically and there are some that do, then it is possible
that you are pedalling in a more toe down fashion under load. If this is the
case, then not only does the seat need to go up somewhat, but also back. If
you are pedalling in a more toe down fashion under load than pre orthoses,
then the major vector on the pedals is to the rear which will tend to tip
your weight forward [ just as they told us in high school physics, for every
action there is an equal and opposite reaction].This too, could also explain
what you are feeling.
Go out and find a moderate hill and ride up it a few times in a gear that
you need to force a bit but not so much that you sacrifice technique. Set
your seat height so that you can do this and reach the bottom of the pedal
stroke with a little to spare smoothly. Is your seat higher or lower than
what you are used to?
If higher, it is likely that the second explanation is the most likely and
the seat needs to move back a bit. Experiment with that till you feel balanced
again. Stem height and possibly length may need to change as well.
If lower, then probably the first explanation is the case and that you should
feel OK. If not, let me know.
My experience is that approximately 50% of the time that orthoses are prescribed
for walking and running and solve problems in those pastimes, they either
do no good or are part of the problem when used in cycling shoes. This is
because orthoses are usually predicated around a predictable heel strike whereas
the contact point in a cycling shoe is the forefoot which is not the same
thing. Moreover, often a portion of the prescription is to work around issues
like leg length discrepancies and/or lateral pelvic tilts. On a bike we should
bear the majority of our weight under the ischia or sit bones and exert force
with our legs which is not necessarily the same as bearing our weight and
exerting force with our legs as we do walking or running.
The other 50% of the time?
They work a treat or need only minor modification.
Sports drinks and dental health
I am 41 year old female cyclist who rides around 250km a week. Just had my
recent dental check up and I told my dentist I drank Gatorade during cycling.
He quickly advised me that it wasn't a good thing to do as the drink is full
of sugar and would effect the health of my teeth. He advised me to drink mineral
water or just plain water. What I want to know is what is a "good for you' sports
drink that doesn't have too much of an adverse effect on ones teeth due to sugar
levels? (I drink Gatorade for the rehydration and energy benefits.)
Scott Saifer replies:
Given the significant amount of riding that you are doing, you should definitely
be consuming some carbohydrate and electrolytes while you ride, as well as
water. My dentist told me that the sort of bacteria that eat sucrose (the
sugar in Gatorade) and attack your teeth work much faster than the sort that
eat more complex carbohydrates and attack your teeth. If you are really worried
about your teeth, you might consider eating whole grain bread or fruit with
water instead of taking Gatorade. On the other hand, even the sucrose-eating
bacteria don't work instantly. Ask you dentist if it would be okay to drink
Gatorade and then brush as soon as you get home.
Pam Hinton adds:
In addition to the suggestion offered by Scott, you might chew sugarless
gum after taking a swig of Gatorade. Chewing sugarless gum stimulates saliva
flow, which helps neutralize acid produced by oral bacteria. It's the acid
that dissolves the tooth enamel and causes cavities.
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