Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for October 30, 2007
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
3D dynamic bike fit
Seat height with Keo carbon pedals
3D dynamic bike fit
I've been a fan of your column for quite some time and your advice has paid
off regarding everything from cleat position through to solving a difficult
knee problem I've had for years. So, thank you. I'm hoping you can give me an
insight into 3D Dynamic Bike Fit. I hear CTS are offering it, and I was wondering
if you could both elaborate on what it is, how it works, and give me your opinion
Steve Hogg replies:
I don't have any first hand knowledge of CTS' 3D Dynamic Bike Fit. I had
a look at their website and know only what it says there.
Basically it is a method of motion capture that a bike fitter can use to
analyse what a rider is doing on a bike. In short it is a tool and like all
tools, is only as good as the person using it. In this case the bike fitter.
I am a College student studying Exercise Science and have competed in various
endurance sports (mostly running and road cycling). As a self proclaimed training
geek, and like most racers, I am constantly looking for anything that could
make me minutes (or even seconds) faster (LEGALLY OF COURSE...DOPERS SUCK).
So my question is this, with all the nutrient possibilities and the many nutrition
companies out there, all with their own recovery ideas. SOOO I was wondering,
could you simplify and save money by ingesting some food with carbohydrates
and a little protein plus a standard multivitamin (directly after workout or
otherwise within the glycogen window) to make up for any lost nutrients in you're
diet, or those nutrients that have been depleted by you're training? Would this
make sense, or is it best to stick with a condensed formula, such as an energy
bar or a recovery beverage. Thanks for you're help,
Scott Safier replies:
You are wise beyond your years, or you are an old college student. The preformulated
energy and recovery products offer nothing that you can't get from intelligently
chosen, "real" foods. That doesn't mean that these products are without value
however. First off, if you don't have the knowledge needed to help you make
those intelligent choices (a friend of mine thought that cheese was a carbohydrate-rich
food, for instance) energy and recovery supplements let you choose well without
thinking too muc.
Energy and recovery supplements also provide convenience. If you will race
far from home and don't have time to prepare real food, you can always toss
a can of recovery powder in your kit bag along with your helmet and shoes.
If the other option is driving around after a race looking for food while
the glycogen window gradually closes, the supplement products are a far better
choice. When you will finish a ride at home however, and if you are good at
keeping your fridge and pantry full, I'd suggest eating real food.
I'm 32 year old male. I like cycling at lot and I hope to start racing in the
future. I have a problem with leg cramps. Right now I'm only riding once a week.
Between 35-40 miles I get cramps. At the end of the ride the average speed is
about 17mph, including stops and hills. My bike weight is 21-22 lbs aluminum
I have tried so many endurance drinks including EFS, Nuun, high 5 isotonic,
gatorade, Cytomax, gatorade endurance, and Salt sticks. Still, I have cramps.
I have run 5 marathons and always feel the cramps after 18 miles (have to run
& walk just to finish). I have also checked with my doctor and all my electrolytes
are at normal level. They even said I am very healthy. They told me to hydrate
days before riding, but it still didn't help. I will experiment on pickle juice
this week. Any advice is very much appreciated. Thank you.
Scott Safier replies:
Below you'll find information on cramping in general in healthy cyclists.
If none of this applies, you should ask your doctor if he or she has ruled
out sarcoidosis. This condition sometimes causes cramping with no other obvious
What is a cramp?
Cramps are strong involuntary muscle contractions. They can occur at any
time though they are most common during or shortly after hard exercise. They
can occur in any muscle, though in cyclists they are most common in the quads,
hamstrings and calves. They can be so strong that they cause you to launch
out of a chair or actually pull a muscle.
There are many causes of cramps, though on a fundamental level they are all
the same. When you move, your brain sends signals to your muscles requesting
a contraction. The central nervous system receives feedback on the strength
of the contraction that has occurred, from which it can make fine adjustments
so that you can make a controlled movement. If the feedback says that the
contraction is harder than expected, the brain can send instructions to contract
less. If the feedback says the contraction is weak, the brain can send a signal
to contract more. As a muscle fatigues, the brain sends more signals to tell
the muscle to contract to get the same strength of contraction. When the muscle
becomes too fatigued to do what is asked of it, the brain sends a continuous
contraction signal, which initiates a cramp.
Causes of cramps and how to correct them
Anything that fatigues a muscle can bring on a cramp, and anything that keeps
a muscle fresh helps prevent cramps. Talk to your coach about which of these
might be your particular problem.
Inadequate training: You may cramp towards the end of a long or hard ride
simply because you have not trained adequately for the distance or the intensity
of your ride. Make gradual increases to volume and intensity.
Pushing a big gear: One clue that you may be doing this is if you find yourself
standing each time you need to accelerate. Another clue is measuring your
cadence below 85 rpm for much of a hard ride. The cure? Switch to a lower
gear. Spin to save your legs. Get a larger rear cog or a triple crankset if
Dehydration: Muscles don’t contract well if they don’t contain their normal
amount of water. Stay hydrated.
Fuel: Muscles can’t contract if they don’t have a good supply of glucose.
Keep eating carbohydrate rich foods on longer rides. Eat something at the
start of the ride, after about 30-40 minutes and every 15-20 minutes thereafter.
Aim for about 300 calories per hour if you are under 150 pounds and 350 if
you are over 150 pounds.
Electrolyte balance: Muscles will cramp if they don’t contain their normal
amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Those amounts change
during exercise. Salt your food and eat plenty of bananas. If you don’t eat
a lot of dairy, take a calcium supplement or eat plenty of brassica veggies
(collards, kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower). Calcium
based antacids such as Tums have cured many cases of cramps. Take one before
riding and one each hour of the ride if you have been having cramps. Don’t
wait for the cramp to take the calcium. Some green vegetables eaten raw, particularly
spinach, will leach calcium from your system. Avoid excessive amounts of raw
Creatine Monohydrate supplementation: In some people creatine supplementation
(especially loading) may cause cramps, especially if the athlete is at all
dehydrated. If in doubt, avoid this supplement.
Tight muscles: Regular stretching of muscles that tend to cramp can reduce
Impaired circulation: Muscles that are not receiving a good blood supply
are deprived of oxygen and fuel. They will not recover from one contraction
to the next and so will fatigue quickly. Do what you can to correct pressure
points on the saddle, in your shoes, in your shorts and anywhere else they
might interfere with circulation.
Heat or cold: On hot or cold days some people will cramp even if they do
everything else right. On hot days, do what you can to keep cool. As well
as staying hydrated, dribble water on your jersey and shorts and through your
helmet every once in a while. Chose shadier and flatter routes on hot days,
unless you are racing and don’t have a choice. On cold days, dress warmly.
Bike Fit: A poorly fit bike may cause some muscles to work harder than necessary,
bringing on a cramp. If in doubt, have your coach check your fit.
Rhabdomyolysis: If cramps are followed shortly by red or brown urine, you
may be experiencing a breakdown of muscle tissue with release of muscle contents
into the blood. This is a medical problem that needs immediate professional
attention to prevent kidney damage. Treatment for acute rhabdomyolysis is
high volume IV rehydration.
My problem is alternating medial knee pain, superior lateral patellar pain,
and achilles pain. Which one is the problem depends on setup. All of these pains
when they occur are completely symmetric.
I am six-foot 4 180 pounds long legs, relatively inflexible most notable in
the quadriceps and hips. I have straight alignment with a slightly varus heel
strike with ambulating. If I exaggerate a pedal motion and watch when I get
significant knee flex my foot has a varus rock. At smaller ranges of motion
this seems non existent or mild.
My original problem was medial knee pain slightly in front of the Anserine
bursa. My diagnosis was the varus rock at the top of the pedal rotation. To
solve this I placed 2 aligned LeMond wedges with the thick portion medially.
The pain instantly resolved. Unfortunately I quickly developed inflammation
at my iliotibial band insertion on the lateral knee that persisted with lowering
the saddle and widening my cleats.
The LeMond wedges were removed and The ITB pain went away. I raised the seat
which seemed to minimize the amount of the problem with getting over the top
with out rocking my foot and concentrated on pedaling with my knee held much
closer to my top tube. In video photography this appeared to give a very good
alignment. Unfortunately I then developed pain at the superior lateral patella
where the vastus lateralis inserted.
My next process was to raise the seat slightly further. Try to let my knee
go naturally but concentrate on maintaining pressure medially on the pedal through
the stroke. My knee angle now at about 27°. Riding in this position for moderate
distances caused increased achilles pain. I moved my cleat back 11 mm from my
1st metatarsal head. (My shoe size is a 47). To do this I changed over to speed
play pedals and used their extender kit. I re did my set up and had my knee
angle 29 to 30 , let my knee go where it wants which on video has an almost
unnoticable side to side rock and concentrated on keeping the foot medially
This seemed to solve the problem for several months until I began increasing
the intensity and distance. I redeveloped medial knee pain!!!! This was instantly
corrected by holding my knee slightly closer to the top tube. However the same
chain reaction occurred with the return of superior lateral patellar pain. If
I raise the seat still further to about 26° of the bend the achilles pain is
back but knee is better.
I am unsure what my next step should be. Here are some things I have considered.
I would like your opinion about these or if you have another option. I am desperate.
1. Place my knee back to a 28 to 30 degree angle. Place one LeMond wedge in
each shoe with the thick side medially. Keep my minus 11 mm spindle set up.
Recall above I had used 2 LeMond wedges unsuccessfully because of ITB syndrome.
2. Continue to try and ride at a relatively high saddle position but move the
cleat back another 8 mm. 19mm total. That's about all I have left in the range
from the speed play adapter. Hopefully this would remove further stress from
my Achilles. It also allows me to lower my saddle from its current position.
At the 26° I seem to still be able to spin on my saddle and have control at
the bottom under reasonable load. I'm not sure yet how my hamstrings will handle
it in the long run as the Achilles gave out first.
3. Try Arch cleat. Obviously I have a problem somewhere with alignment, flexibility,
and my forefoot related to my knee. My understanding from reading is that these
may minimize this problem. It will also relieve the problem of my Achilles and
calf muscle. My major concern with this is the cost of the shoes as I do not
have the mechanical ability to modify shoes.
Steve Hogg replies:
Based on what you have told me, I would suggest reverting to the position
that gave you no problem until you increased distance and intensity and try
one wedge only. If that isn't successful, please get back to me.
Seat hight with Keo carbon pedals
Hi, I'm a 44 year old recreational cyclist who wants to race next year. I just
got new KEO pedals and Sidi Genius 6.6 shoes with the carbon sole. The stack
height on the 6.6 shoes is 3.2 mm's less than the Genius 5's I was using. The
Keo manual suggests that I lower my saddle by 5 mm's to compensate for the difference
in thickness of the Keo cleats compared to the Delta cleats. If I go that low,
everything feels off. I've moved my cleats back a little to compensate for the
lower saddle height (2 mm's lower than previously), so they are behind the ball
of each foot and are pretty comfortable now. The problem is, I'm not sure how
far to lower my seat considering the two new variables (new shoes and pedals).
I've been measuring my saddle height from the center of the pedal spindle to
the top of the saddle, and that height has been very comfortable with my old
shoes and pedals. Is this the correct way to do it? Now that I've changed shoes
and pedals, I've been riding with it set 2 mm's lower than previously. Should
I go any lower, or just try it here for a while? Also, should I move my saddle
back on the rails any to keep the same previous position, or does 2 mm's make
that much difference? Let me know if you need any more information.
Steve Hogg replies:
Place your cleats in whatever fore and aft position and rotational angle
that makes you happy. Once done, find a longish climb and ride up it one or
two cogs higher (smaller cog) than normal while forcing the pace. Basically
as hard as you can push without sacrificing technique.
Do you feel smooth and fluent through the bottom of the pedal stroke?
If the answer is yes, raise your seat a couple of mm and repeat. Repeat until
you feel you are just a touch too high and then drop your seat 3 - 4 mm from
If the answer is no, drop your seat a couple of mm at a time while repeating
When riding up a hill in these conditions, the lower rpm, higher torque efforts
cause us all to drop our heels more relative to flat riding technique. This
causes greater extension of the legs. A good seat height is one where you
can ride up a hill under fairly heavy load while maintaining control of the
pedaling action through the bottom of the pedal stroke.
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