Recently on Cyclingnews.com
Photo ©: Bettini
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.
Fitness questions and answers for April 4, 2005
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.
Time trial frame size
Back pain, knee pain, calf pain…the works
I'm a 24 year old, 6' 0'', 160lb, cat 4 rider, looking to advance in this season
of road racing. During the winter I've felt pretty tired on the bike and slower
than this time last year. I've been putting on a fair number of base miles,
but only in ~30-40 mile increments. Seems like when I try to do more it becomes
a matter of survival rather than training.
A couple weeks ago I saw a doctor for a blood test. Everything was normal except
my TSH levels, which were 8.48 mu/L (I believe those are the correct units).
I've just had another test to confirm this result. My question is: how far out
of whack are these levels, from a sports medicine perspective? Obviously it
indicates hypothyroidism, but is it "hypo" enough, so to speak, to be the source
of my tiredness? I want to avoid unnecessary treatment for this problem, if
possible. But I also want to be treated if that will help my cycling. I'm worried
my doctor will consider my levels relative to his other patients, who wake up,
sit in a cubicle, eat cheetos, and watch TV. My activities extend a little beyond
that, and I want to have energy for those activities.
Any information you have would be phenomenal. I would like to be somewhat educated
about this when I speak with my doctor. Thanks so much.
Scott Saifer Replies
Endurance athletes who train extensively (as opposed to those who call themselves
athletes but don't train) typically have thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH)
levels a little higher than the general population. Your 8.48 is a little
above the range I've seen in athletes, but that by itself does not indicate
that you need treatment.
The thyroid gland produces thryoxine or T4. T4 is the hormone that actually
regulates metabolism. TSH is like the gas pedal for T4. If you have a normal
thyroid gland, a normal level of TSH will cause the gland to release the normal
amount of T4. If the gland is weak, a higher level of TSH is needed to make
the normal level of T4. In the normal population, the thyroid gland is usually
only weak if it is about to fail entirely. Thus doctors who see a high TSH
level and are not familiar with the hormonal profile of athletes will want
to prescribe thyroid (T4) supplementation as soon as the TSH goes a little
out of the normal range.
Endurance athlete's T4 levels should not be very different from anyone else's
levels, so my suggestion would be to have your doctor send you for a T4 test.
If that comes back low, get treatment. T4 treatment is very unlikely to hurt
you in any way, except that you have to remember to take a tiny pill every
day. If you really are hypothyroid, the treatment will correct your fatigue
A lot seems to be written about power metres on road bikes, especially the
top three or four top brands. But what about the RaceMate CompuTrainer? It would
seem there should be many benefits in training regularly with something that
gives you instant feedback, such as the SpinScan Pedal Stoke Analyzer. It must
be much more productive in making adjustments to position and pedaling when
feedback is immediate. Many world class triathletes and ironmen use it every
week. Would road cyclists not gain also by training on it regularly?
Ric Stern Replies
Indoor trainers that are electronic such as the Computrainer, and more regular
models such as a fan, or fluid trainers are great for training on, for all
types of cyclists (with the possible exception of track sprinters). They make
the training much more controllable - you don't have to find the correct length
of road or hill to do your intervals etc on, as well as making things much
safer - no cars to up you, and no pot holes to ride around. I use a variety
of trainers frequently.
However, when comparing trainers such as a Computrainer to on the bike power
meters such as the PowerTap or SRM, it's generally likely that the data a
trainer produces won't be as accurate as a calibrated PowerTap or SRM. In
my experience using several different Computrainers as well as other electronic
trainers, the power data has been off in terms off accuracy. It's important
to get accurate power data if you use it to compare to others, are using it
for modelling purposes, etc.
Additionally, while the SpinScan function tries to teach you about pedalling
mechanics and to get you to produce a 'perfect' pedalling circle[!] it can't
actually do this. For this you would need force instrumented pedals to measure
the forces, the magnitude and direction of those forces to arrive at those
data. Additionally, research has shown using instrumented force pedals that
a 'perfect' pedalling circle is not the holy grail of bike technique. Seminal
work by Coyle et al (1991), showed that when two groups of cyclist (elite
and state level cyclists) were compared for pedalling mechanics, the better
cyclists stamped down more and pulled up less than the not-so-good cyclists
who stamped down less and pulled down more. Research suggests it's more about
generating more force on the downstroke.
Furthermore, I'm not 100% certain what you mean about "making adjustments
to position" but, for example, if you mean trying different positions to produce
the most in, say, a TT position, then you would need to combine this with
wind tunnel or indoor velodrome data, for example, to ascertain which is the
most aerodynamic position. Often the best (ie - the fastest) position may
not be the most powerful position. Increasing aerodynamics at the expense
of power will most likely give better results.
While trainers are great for doing intervals, etc., and the electronic ones
are great for reducing boredom, I would not recommend them above a proper
power metre. All the best
Time trial frame size
I was wondering if you could advise me on TT frame size. I've just come across
cyclingnews and seen the advice you've given to various letters. Firstly, at
present I ride a 56cm trek road frame with a 10cm stem. I'm thinking of buying
a smaller road frame for time trialling - how small would you recommend. Thanks
Steve Hogg Replies
I'm wondering why you think that you need a smaller frame to ride TTs?
Assuming that you are happy with the fit of the current frame, why not buy
one of similar size again and set it up for TTs? Have
a look at this post, and after reading that, let me know if you have any
Back pain, knee pain, calf pain…the works
I too have sufferred from all of the above for years and like Erik Feibert
of Ontario, OR, and knew that it was in part due to bad posture and worsened
by a few accidents. Last year after an operation that mde me walk and sleep
funny for a month it got really bad, the worst I can remember. I ended up getting
advice to visit someone who does rolfing, mezieres, or myofascial release -
it comes under various brand names.
I started seeing a guy in Bilbao and as I had to travel I could not get the
whole treatment but I can say that having my muscles stretch out by this guy
and then having a set of exercises that teach me good posture, proper walking
habits etc has really helped fix the arch in my back and minimised some of the
other problems. I am also taking a magnesium supplement, called biomag, daily
to assist with tight muscles etc and am finding with lots of hard work and an
authoritairian exercise regime, the pain is going away, my posture is improving
and strength in my lower back increasing.
I have taken time off the bike as I want to get walking properly before stressing
myself with a training regime. The occasional spin is all I can manage at the
moment. Partly because being away from home I don't have a bike with me but
also because I just want to work on my back and not confuse it just now.
But I strongly reccomend to anyone who has any pain, pronatation of hips, knees
etc, one leg shorter etc etc to look into this form of treatment. The normal
course is over 10 weeks and although I only manged to have two weeks the changes
in my back were dramatic. I am looking forward to some more treatment and getting
back on the bike when I get home to the Basque Country in the summer. But for
now learning to sit, stand and walk with lost of stretching is really helping
overcome the plague of a bad back and all that comes with it.
Martin Hardie (not "qualified" except through 20 years of back pain!)
Mozambique for now
I am a 40-year-old healthy male who last week in a basketball game may have
ruptured my achilles tendon. The emergency room doctor stated that merely looking
at an x-ray wasn't enough to tell for sure if the rupture was completely split.
Today I saw an orthopaedic doctor who did no more than take another x-ray -
I'm not pleased with the fact that he told me he needed to do surgery.
I have complete motion range and no pain and still didn't have either a scan
or mri - should I let the surgeon who doesn't "think" it is completely split
cut it in half and sew it together? It doesn't make sense to me
Scott Saifer Replies
You may want to get an opinion from a third doctor, but no coach who has
not seen the xrays should try to recommend medical treatment over email.
Other Cyclingnews Form & Fitness articles