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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 27, 2007

Hernia caused by cycling?
Single speed advantages
Anterior cruciate ligament tears and racing

Hernia caused by cycling?

I recently suffered an inguinal hernia. My girlfriend immediately accused cycling of being the cause, I immediately retorted that it had nothing to do with it Neither of us have any idea what we're talking about, although the doctor tended to back me up. Could cycling have contributed to it? I'm 48 and do around 250 km/week.


Scott Saifer replies:

Here's my general rule for answering the question, "does cycling cause condition-X?" If cycling itself is a cause of the problem, it should cause the problem in a significant number of cyclists sooner or later. That would describe cycling's relation to such conditions as saddle sores, road rash, sore knees and a particular odd looking tan. These things happen to cyclists with enough regularity and end when people stop riding with enough regularity that we can say they are caused by cycling. Of course one can also argue that it is not cycling itself, but rather riding in dirty shorts, riding with a saddle too low or crashing that cause these things, but still one would not have the problems if one didn't ride.

The relationship of cycling to inguinal hernia is not like that. I have worked with over 1000 athletes, and not one of them has reported an inguinal hernia. If cycling causes that condition, it must only cause it in people who already have some predisposition to the problem.

So, I'm with you on the issue of whether cycling causes inguinal hernia. Now, you also have to wonder why your girlfriend should be in such hurry to blame cycling for anything. Is she so in love with you that the idea of you being hurt makes her crazy and she gives up rationality, or does she hate your bike so much that she'd do anything to keep you off it?

Single speed advantages

Does training on a single speed bring any particular advantages? Obviously riding a single speed leads to pushing harder at times and spinning faster at other times, but does this bring any benefits to the rider when he transfers back to his geared bike?


Scott Saifer replies:

The single speed does force you to push hard on the pedals, developing power which you can use on your geared bike, and force you to spin higher cadences, which can help you develop your spin for sprinting or routine riding depending how bad you spin is to start with. If you went out and deliberately trained the same variety of cadences on a geared bike, you'd get the same benefit.

The major benefit of the single-speed is that it is different and so can keep training fresh and interesting for a few more hours now and then. I would not suggest using the single speed exclusively. If it is a fixed gear as well as a single speed, avoid spinning out on down hills. The single speed does not help make you smoother when the pedals are driving your feet, but only when you feet are driving the pedals.

Anterior cruciate ligament tears and racing

I raced bikes when I was younger, in my early 20s, but got into soccer too. Over the last ten years I've managed to tear both of my anterior cruciate ligaments (ACLs) while playing, the last one was just this last spring. I got on my bike right away and have been putting in steady miles and training since. My left knee is still ACL deficient, and the meniscus is torn too - it gets sore at the back fairly often. My left leg has atrophied a bit, despite the cycling. I'm trying to be more consistent with weight training to try to build it up in relation to my stronger right leg.

So my question is, just how much cycling can I do like this? I'd like to race this coming year, and then have my ACL fixed at the end of the season - in October. I know I don't drive through my left knee as much as I would if it was ‘good'. Would massage help the meniscus feel better? How can I best compensate on the bike, power wise? Hips above the cranks, or slightly ahead, slightly behind, etc?

Thanks for any advice on how to push through this season with a bum knee!


Steve Hogg replies:

Here is a non medical view. I snapped the medial ligament and ruptured the ACL of my left knee in 1973. The advice that the surgeon that I chose to listen to at the time gave me was "come back in 15 years when we know what we are doing."

ACL reconstructions have improved immeasurably since 1973 and I have had numerous customers post knee operation re-enter cycling with little or no problems. You may like to consider having an operation on each knee.

I have never had an operation but if my experience is anything to go by, you can do anything you like with your knees providing:

1. That any movement exerting force is in a single (saggital) plane

2. That you go out of your way to develop your VMO's [vastus medialis oblique - the large muscle on the inside of the thigh] to the greatest degree that you can as they are the major muscular lateral stabiliser of the knee.

3. That you address any structural asymmetries that you have that may cause you to load your knees on a bike in ways that they don't like. A common example is that many people drop their right hip on a bike and this often causes lateral movement in the left knee. So the message is to improve your core strength, flexibility and symmetry in general.

4. Providing you are on top of the first three above, riding a bike should be good for you providing you have a reasonable position. For people with damaged ACL's this should involve plenty of foot over the pedal. I find that while ever I ride regularly, no problem. If I get off the bike for more than two months, I start to have problems walking up and down stairs because of reduction in VMO strength.


Don't mean to be a busybody, but I was just reading Scott Saifer's answer to the collegiate rider suffering from mononucleosis; I felt like his answer was both a bit alarmist in terms of schedule and not alarmist enough given the particular problems an athlete recovering from mononucleosis is likely to face (beyond the question of simple fatigue interrupting training, there is the possibility of liver and spleen enlargement and even the possibility of spleen rupture).

It might be worth tracking down some of the studies mentioned in this article to get the poor kid and any others in his position pointed in the right direction. And of course tell him to consult with his doctor!

Scott Saifer replies:

Thanks for the great link. I really should have mentioned the possibility of splenomegaly and rupture. I've watched several riders return from mono with continued fatigue for many months beyond the four-week acute phase described by your linked article.

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