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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 February 6, 2005

Striking a balance
Rearward seating position
Vastus medialis obliquis problems

Striking a balance

I am a 52-year-old male who began cycling again four years ago after many years off the bike. My goal is to begin racing this summer at local races. I am 5'8" and 175 lbs and in relatively good shape.

I recently purchased the CTS DVD series and find them terrific. During the winter season I will have no problem with balancing the trainer hours with my road riding. As the season changes, however, I want to keep up the intensity of the CTS workout while riding on the road. How wise is it to do both at the same time? Do you do the CTS work on "off" days, or just transfer the knowledge gained from the winter workouts to road training?

Wes Woolard

Scott Saifer replies


No, you don't do the indoor training on the "Off Days". What is "off" about riding your guts out? "Off" days should be spent relaxing and recovering from whatever indoor or outdoor training you've been doing.

Ideally you would have an overall plan for the year of cycle training and you would do what you need to do indoors or outdoors according to the weather and your motivation. There are dozens of kinds of training that cyclists use (spin classes, club rides, races, solo rides, video-driven trainer sessions, ride-simulation computers, strength work on bike and off, hill repeats, intervals...) You can't do all of them. Rather you should be looking at what sorts of training you need from a physiological viewpoint and selecting training methods that provide the desired stimulus.

If you are not sure what the training year should look like, speak with a coach or buy one of the many books on the topic. I happen to be partial to Bike Racing 101 since I wrote part of it, but Joe Friel's Cyclists Training Bible is also good, as are many others.

Rearward seating position

I was just curious as to why many of the riders in the professional peloton have a rearward riding position, i.e the likes of Danilo Di Luca and Damiano Cunego, while other riders opt for a more forward position, like Robbie McEwen. Are there differences in muscular efficiency for climbing/time trialling in one over another?


Steve Hogg replies


What the pros that I have dealt with tell me is that most teams don't put much time and effort into rider positioning unless it is for a star rider. There are some exceptions to this. The story I have been told a number of times is that if the rider isn't complaining about his position, he is left alone. It is a ruthless business. The rider performs or a replacement is found for the following season. No one is particularly worried why a non performing rider isn't performing because in many cases they are lesser lights and replacements are easy to come by.
What I am saying is that in most cases there is probably no general overarching approach in most teams. The things that you note are rider preference or experience in most cases in most teams.

Vastus medialis obliquis problems

I am a 36 year old male. I weigh 90 kg and I am 172cm tall, I would describe myself as a typical rugby build. Recently I snapped the seat clamp 'ears' on my wife's bike. They can not be welded as it is an old Trek carbon /aly lug frame as this would melt the epoxy.

As a result I agreed to 'share' my bike with my wife whilst she trains for a local women's charity tri. I have done an Ironman and a couple of halves. I have a 2003 Giant, medium TCR frame. However, as is customary with tri riders I rotated my 'standard setback' Bontrager seat post 180 degrees to give me a very aggressive forward position. I used the standard OEM giant alloy/carbon stem in the lower position. Further, I read your post on cleat position and changed my cleats accordingly so my meta' was in front of the axle. However, this change was made some time ago and In fact I trained and rode the IM last year with no problems.

I decided on a compromise so that I did not have to change seat height and stem each weekend. I decided to fit a shorter Bontrager stem in the upper position (11 degrees approx). I rotated the Bontrager seat post to its original position and set the seat slightly back. I have been quite curious to see how this would work out as I have read your posts extensively and over time I have come to agree that the 'rotation around the bottom bracket' theory may be flawed. Our recent dilemma forced my hand.

After making the changes I experienced a significant increase in power when I road, I felt I was not tapping out 'low torque high-cadence revolutions.' However, on my second long ride since starting training, which was today, and consisted of 120k over relatively flat terrain, I felt my Quads begin to twitch as they did on my last ride and in fact by about 80k I simply could not stand up as they 'locked' (cramped) instantly. In fact I totally 'locked up' only 3k form home and I must have been a sight for sore eyes as I peeled my self of my bike and writhed in pain on someone's front lawn. (Nutrition, shoes etc is the same as in the past and no other pain such as lower back).

I am a little perplexed? The gains of riding in a rearward position were evident immediately as mentioned. However, I have never had cramp problems (with any muscle group) previously and after reading your posts I believe I should have been experiencing cramping in my quads during my previous 'slow-twitch', 'rotate around the bottom bracket', aggressive position.

N.B. Quads = smaller muscle on inside side of thigh just above the knee and not larger muscle on outside of thigh-still bloody sore actually. Thanks for all the posts! A lot of people I know appreciate and discuss them. Cheers.


Perth, West Australia

Steve Hogg replies


From your N.B. at the end, I assume that it is only the inner quad that is worrying you. Is that correct? Proceeding on the assumption that it is, there are a number of possibilities.

1. The area where you have experienced pain on the inside of the knee is the vastus medialis obliquis (VMO). The VMO plays a part in the lateral stability of the knee which means it is either
(a) Under developed
(b) Fighting to stabilise the knee for whatever reason
(c) Possible mild overextension of the knee.

2. There may be a clue in your description of the VMO as "smaller muscle on the inside of the thigh just above the knee and not the larger muscle on the outside of the thigh". Ideally, and in my experience, the opposite is good if you are a bike rider. All of the quads should be developed but the VMO being important for stability, should when contracted appear larger than the head of the outer quad (vastus lateralis), not smaller. This may be the nub of the problem. Are you tight in the ITB's at all? If so, the VMO's may be fighting to keep the knee tracking more or less straight on the pedal downstroke.

3. As an ex triathlete, you may well be tight generally. When you changed your position, did you then spend a few weeks adapting muscularly or did you continue your normal training load?
If the latter, it is worth backing off the intensity and possibly distance as well for 3 weeks and gradually accustom your body to working through a different range of movement with different relative degrees of muscular enlistment.

4. Did you recheck the angular position of your cleats when you moved the seat back?
If not, it is worth checking that under load you have a relatively even range of movement either side of where your feet naturally want to sit on the pedal under load. If your foot is up against the stop in the sense that there is not enough freeplay to allow it to be quite where it wants to be and problems like you have mentioned can be one way you will feel it.

5. Did your seat height as measured from the bottom bracket change when you moved the seat back?
If you reversed the post but did not lower it somewhat, you may well be sitting too high. As an approximate guide, for every 3mm the seat went back, it moves 1mm further away from the pedals. If your seat moved back 40 mm when the post was reversed, without any change in the amount of post exposed, you would have 'raised' your seat 13mm for instance.

6. As you have found, you will put out more power sitting the way you are now. More power means more strain on your body as a structure and sometimes problems will arise that no one knew where there were previously. I am happy to correspond with you to find a solution so if none of the above strikes a chord and there is any more info that you have that may play a part in this, please pass it on.

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