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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

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.

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.

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.

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 Athleteô. He is a former category 1 & semi-pro MTB racer. Dario holds a masters degree in exercise science and a bachelors in sport psychology.

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.

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 August 21, 2007

Quickly regaining form
Training junior riders
Post virus recovery
Knee problems
Altitude acclimatisation

Quickly regaining form

I am a 35 year old living in Switzerland and compete in both and road and mountain bike races. From time to time, due to work related travel commitments I have to take 7-10 days off the bike. My question is: upon return what are the best types of cycling workouts to quickly regain actual / perceived loss of fitness. I usually try to ride steep climbs combined with some short intervals, with the goal of "shocking" my body back into cycling form quickly. Does this make sense?

Michael Blume
Zurich, Switzerland

Scott Safier replies:

If what you've been doing is working for you, it's working. I usually advise a much more conservative approach after such a long break: six days of base riding only, starting with two at about 1/4-1/3 of your usual training distance or time, then two at roughly 1/2-2/3 and then two at full distance before resuming the normal training schedule.

My experience also suggests that taking breaks of 7 days or more can really wreck the next couple of months of a season though so maybe you are onto something. I'd be concerned about injuries.

Might I suggest that if you are serious about your racing you find a way to continue training through your work trips? A daily or every other day spin class or gym bike may not exactly fit your training plan or be entirely comfortable, but at least you won't be repeatedly losing the fitness you work so hard to build.

Training junior riders

I have a 10 year old boy who is very excited about road racing. He currently is riding about 100 miles per week at a nice aerobic pace (15mph). My question regards his training and specifically how much should he do? He is very fit (he has been running 5K running races for a couple of years). What would be an appropriate training week for someone so young? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Timothy Dean

Carrie Cheadle replies:

I don't know what's appropriate for that age from a physiological standpoint. It's important to ask that question to make sure you aren't setting him up for any potential overuse injuries. As far as psychological readiness one thing to keep in mind is that when a child excels in a sport at a young age, they can often run into motivational issues once they get to a level where the competition levels out.

Where they once didn't have to work very hard to be the best, they find themselves in a situation where they have to work to improve and move to the next level. If at this point, a young athlete starts to compare themselves to other kids, it can be a big blow to their self-esteem and impact their motivation to continue in the sport. Make sure you encourage your son to gauge his success based on how he is improving on his own performance vs. how he compares to others.

At this point, let your son direct how much time he wants to put into it. As long as he is enjoying it and having fun - let him have do it. If he doesn't want to do it, don't push it. The #1 reason kids are motivated to participate in sport is because it's fun. He's young. Maybe he'll ride and race for the rest of his life, or maybe he will enjoy this experience and move onto another sport or hobby.

Post virus recovery

In May this year I was effected by a virus. On the advice of the doctors I stopped all training and rested. I have been told that the virus has cleared, but I still will have to take it easy until late September when I can return to cycling. Quite simply how do I structure my return to cycling. Prior to the virus I was cycling about 100 miles per week to and from work and then riding another 75 miles with a club.

I am a non competitive 46 years old male cyclist, riding both MTB & Road and am normally in very good health. I would average about 15mph.

Murray Perrett

Scott Safier replies:

There is no one right way to do what you are setting out to do. There are some principles though: Start easy and build up slowly. Avoid hard efforts until you are up close to your old normal volume. As one possible scenario: start with riding every other day and making the first two rides just 30-45 minutes each. If those go well, make the third ride a full hour.

So long as you continue to feel strong, add about 1/2 hour per week to the length of each ride until you are riding as much as you have time for each day. Then add days. The usual rule about adding no more than 10% per week to your long ride or total volume does not apply because you have the ability currently to exercise far more than than the zero hours you've been getting.

Knee problems

I have haemophilia and as a result have bad, arthritic knees. I have had synovectomies on both knees to remove damaged synovial tissue and as a result of injuries and arthritis have a somewhat limited range of motion in both knees (-6 to 8 degrees on both extension and bending).

I ride about 150 miles per week (a combination of road and trainer miles) with eggbeater pedals and everything is OK, but my knees always feel a bit unstable if I am riding out of the saddle. I suspect that this has to do with the range of motion and weakness in stabilising muscles around the knees. Can you suggest any exercises that could help me build more stable stronger knees?

Robert Dobry

Scott Safier replies:

Given the unusual etiology of you knee instability, I'd suggest getting your exercise prescription from a physical therapist or related health professional rather than from the fitness forum. Someone who knows what they are looking at should diagnose the reason for your feeling of instability before prescribing corrective measures.

Altitude acclimatisation

I live at sea level and a couple of weeks ago, I went to one of the bigger races in my season at altitude (5,000-6,000í). I travelled up the day before, and on the first climb of the race, absolutely could not get enough oxygen into my lungs. I did the same race last year and the altitude didnít have a fraction of the effect it did this year.

Iím 50 years old and in great health. Can you please tell me: 1) Why the altitude had a much higher negative effect on me this year opposed to last year. 2) What can I do to better acclimate next year or for any race at altitude? If the altitude effect will be the same next year, it makes no sense for me to even go when Iím being dropped by people I normally would ride away from.

Glenn Mattsson
Santa Rosa, CA, USA

Scott Safier replies:

For most riders, there is a normal pattern of response to arrival at altitude. From 0 hours after arrival to about 18 hours after, performance is okay. By 18 hours you start to pee off water as you body begins to adjust the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood by thickening it.

The thicker blood works better at low levels of exertion but won't support higher levels of exertion. The thicker blood period lasts about 5 days. After the fifth day, performance rises to the level of the first 18 hours and then continues to improve. At this point there has been a shift in how the haemoglobin binds oxygen. This shift favours releasing the reduced amount of oxygen which is available as your blood passes through your muscles.

So to acclimatise you need to be at altitude for about five days before your event. If that is not possible, altitude tents really do work, and only cost as much as 2-3 good bikes.


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