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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.

The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel

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.

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.

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.

Fitness questions and answers for December 20, 2004

Bike fit
Seat height
Switching bikes

Bike fit

Hi, I'm a 24yr male specializing in riding time trials for the last 5 yrs or so. I've had a lot of injury problems over this period mainly with my left hip and right knee. Recently I went to a specialist bike fitting centre to see if they could help prevent further injuries. They noted my left cleat was set so that my left leg was much further away from the centre of the bottom bracket than my right. Then when testing my hip flexability they found that whilst my right leg could be brought up to my chest comfortably in more or less a straight line my left leg has to move in a line that takes it away from the centre of my body towards my left shoulder. This appears to be the reason I have been riding in this position as I set my cleats up where I felt most comfortable. I also ride with my seat rotated slightly to the left for similar reasons. I would like to know whether this is likely to be a physical imperfection that I have in my hips/pelvis or if it is more likely to be a functional problem such as a muscle imbalance or twisted pelvis perhaps? My left thigh appears to be slightly longer than the right, could this also be due to the problem with my hip? Also, when I stand with my feet together my knees have a large gap between them and my right shoulder is slightly lower than the left.

Rick Smith

Steve Hogg replies:

From what you say you have obvious asymmetries of function at work. As to your query re the root causes, there is a multitude of possible causes and interactions. The best money you could spend is to find a quality structural health professional like a good physiotherapist, chiropractor or similar and have yourself structurally assessed. If you get back to me with the results of that, then we have some information to work with. We can go from there. In cycling like every other sport out there, the better and more symmetrically we function, the better we perform and stand up to any given training load.

Seat height

Over the months, there has been much written about 'seat setback' and 'cleat placement' and it all makes a lot of sense.

I was wondering if you could expand on your methods for determining 'seat height'. I am aware that seat height determination is not an autonomous act, and that any initial height may have to be altered depending on 'seat setback' determination.

But how should I go about trying arrive at an initial height? Is it as simple as 'ensuring that you reach through the bottom of the pedal stroke with power and control under reasonable load'? If so, there could be a reasonable range of millimetres that will allow one to achieve this.

Oronso Cana
London, UK

Steve Hogg replies:

I have an advantage in setting other peoples' seat height because I can see them. We can't see ourselves and what I have suggested in this forum is how I go about setting my own seat height as I can't see myself either.

The quote 'ensuring that you can reach through the bottom of the pedal stroke with power and control under reasonable load' pretty much covers it. Reasonable load is what I would define as what it takes to ride up a hill in a gear that is say, one cog too high for comfort. That is forcing the gear a bit but not to the degree where you sacrifice technique much or at all. Typically this will be at 70 - 80 rpm at high heartrate. This is higher rpm than strength endurance efforts but the kind of rpm that can often occur in hilly races.

When you are doing this, if you are unsure whether your seat height is effective or not, raise the seat in 3 mm increments until you are obviously an increment too high. From there drop the seat 5 mm. Obviously too high means that you will start to move laterally on the seat a bit or feel jerky at the bottom of the stroke. I can't stress the benefits of a bit of self knowledge and common sense here.

Why 5 mm and not the last 3 mm rise?

Because not every day is the best day of your life and if you are doing a heavy training block or racing repeatedly, it is better to be a tiny bit low rather than high, as under these conditions most of us tighten up a bit. If you think you have got your seat height right after going through that procedure but want a good cross check, then do this. Have two or three easy days and pick course or circuit with a few undulations and do a flat out 40 km TT without aero bars. Make sure on any of the slight uphills you force the gear. At the end ask yourself if you feel any pain or knots high in the hamstring under the glutes? This is a common tell tale if the seat is just a little too high.

If so, your seat is still 3 - 5 mm too high. If not you are safe with the choice you have made.

Switching bikes

I currently have a Gios, 56cm seat tube (c-t) and 56cm TT 9 (c-c). The seat angle is 74 degrees. I'm using a 13.5cm stem.

I had my brother buy me a Merckx Titanium, 55cm ST (c-t), and 55.5 TT (c-c). the seat angle is 73 deg.

I'd like to have the same set up similar with my Gios. How long would my stem be this time? My calculations says I'd need a 16cm stem. Am I correct?

JV Araneta

Steve Hogg replies:

The Merckx is 1 degree more relaxed in the seat tube angle and 5 mm shorter in the top tube. Off the top of my head, that 1 degree of seat tube angle should equate with 9 mm give or take a fraction at the centre of the intersection of top tube and seat tube. That means that if using the same seat and seat post, you would have to move the seat forward in the clamp 11.5 - 12 mm from your Gios placement to achieve the same seat setback behind bottom bracket as you have now when putting these parts on the Merckx. That distance is based around a guesstimation of a typical seat height on a frame of your size. That 11.5 - 12 mm if factored down to the top tube gives the 9 mm or so that you are effectively shortening the top tube. Add to this the 5 mm that the Merckx is shorter in the top tube and you would need, rounded up, a 15 mm longer i.e. 150 mm stem to achieve the same position on the Merckx as you have on the Gios.

This is the case if you plan to use the same seat, seat post and bar as you currently do. If you introduce variables in the sense of a different shape of seat or handlebar, then things get interesting.

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