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Form & Fitness Q & A
Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject?
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Fitness questions and answers for December 5, 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.
Short legs & cycling
Aerobic cross training and mitochondria
Short legs & cycling
Thanks for the advice, and it seems I am in the need for a little more.
I am now in the process of building up the ride distances in order to complete
& enjoy the TdU Challenge Stage in January 2008. On the longer rides (100km
or so), I have been developing a soreness in the perennial area just in front
of the sit bones on my left side. To an extent that after Sunday's 112km ride,
I noticed a blood blister that had protruded from the skin (this has been an
area of previous sensitivity that has come and gone, but never like this). Shorter
rides of 1 - 2 hours can sometimes have minor tenderness, but not always.
I changed my saddle some time ago from the Bontrager Race Lux (came with my
LeMond Tourmalet 2006 model) to a Selle Italia Max Flite Gel Flow, and am very
happy with it. I am also now using Time RXS pedals and Cannondale RP2000 shoes.
I do not think the current problem is related to the seat, as it was sort of
there before (it appears that I have a blood vessel very close to the skin in
that area, and hence the issue ?). I have not yet used any shims on my short
leg, as I have not really had any issues to date.
I have previously had a bike fit based more on the KOPS methodology, with some
compensation for the short leg. My left leg is shorter in the Femur by approx
6 - 9mm.
Is there someone in Adelaide that you can recommend that does a bike fit along
the lines that you do to achieve the "functional symmetry" that you mention
- getting to Sydney for a bike fit is not a short term solution at the moment
Steve Hogg replies:
So the left femur is 9mm shorter and you get perineal pressure on the left
side. You are dropping one hip, probably the left and loading it more heavily
in an attempt to make up for the inability of that leg to reach as far as
the right leg can. But I can't discount the possibility that you may be dropping
the right hip and if you are, that may be pulling the left side towards the
centre line of the bike and be causing the issue that you mention.
I am not sure by what you mean by your saying that you are not having any
issues and so haven't shimmed the shoe of the short leg. I'd say you are having
The best advice I have sight unseen is to:
1. Establish whether it is right or left hip that you are dropping.
2. If it is the left hip, then a shim of 3 - 5 mm should make a noticeable
3. If it is the right hip, get back to me.
My question is in regards to my Hematocrit level.
I am 42 years old, 5' 9" and 155lbs. I've been racing bicycles for the last
7 years in the Masters 30-40 division. I don't have any scouts from Slipstream
following me around, but I would say I can hold my own in most races. Generally
I finish in the top 10-15 riders in a criterium field of 75. Respectable…..but
I want more.
Admittedly, my biggest weakness is leg strength. If I have to hammer into a
headwind, I'll fold like a house of cards. My assets are leg speed and endurance.
I get a yearly prostate cancer screening which includes a complete blood workup.
(As well as another "procedure" I won't mention) Within the results of the blood
test is my Hematocrit level. For the past three years my levels have been 46.2…46.6…46.5
from all that I have read on the subject (and it's quite a hot topic as of late)
my +Hematocrit level may be my biggest asset. I had actually read where Greg
LeMond suggested that the legal Hematocrit level for racers be lowered to 46.
Now for my question(s); does this magic "Number" truly hold all the power they
say it does? And, if so, how can I best exploit this natural "gift" I have?
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Dario Fredrick replies:
While the limiter or "weakness" you mention in your racing is shared by many
cyclists, the good news is that you can train and improve this area of performance.
Technically, it's not strength you are lacking when you are stopped short
by a headwind, but power relative to your aerodynamic drag. If you train to
improve your short duration and flat-terrain power in a lower-drag position,
you will go faster. Proper positioning on the bike, riding in the drops and
keeping your head low will help reduce the resistance of a headwind. To increase
your power, you can try a couple of different workouts. For short-duration
power especially useful in criteriums and flat road races, I would recommend
20-30 sec seated accelerations. Start with 8-10, including sufficient recovery
between each to maintain consistency. Also, you might try longer split efforts
on flat terrain. Start with 3 or 4 x 9 min, where you split the 9 min intervals
into three continuous 3 min efforts: 3 min ~90-93% of MSS + 3 min ~95-97%
+ 3 min ~90-93%, continuous for 9 min (MSS = Maximal Steady State, your 30min
performance threshold HR). Again, full recovery between each 9 min interval.
Regarding your questions about hematocrit (Hct), yours is slightly above
average for males (~45 +/- 5-7, depending on the source). Since we are talking
about the percentage of blood volume that is red cells (which carry and transport
oxygen), a higher than average Hct can be beneficial to cycling performance.
However, Hct is only one physiological aspect of aerobic potential as VO2max
is also a function of maximal cardiac output (dependent upon blood volume
and stroke volume of the heart). Muscle fiber type predominance and adaptation
(e.g. mitochondrial density) also play an role in determining one's performance
Regardless of your hematocrit or fiber type predominance, the best way to
maximize your potential is to train specifically for your sport, while addressing
your limiters -- whether you have a high Hct or not. For you, that simply
means raising your max-sustainable and short-duration power on flat terrain.
That should help you develop a more complete game.
Aerobic cross training and mitochondria
I've been reading a great deal lately about increasing mitochondria through
long aerobic cycling (2-3 hours). Primarily as an off season training endeavor.
If I combine cycling and cross training for this length of time, will I realize
the same benefit?
Dario Fredrick replies:
The simple answer to whether you will realize the same benefit is no, because
muscle fiber recruitment and adaptation are very specific to the activity.
Cross training can at best only partially mimic the fiber recruitment of endurance
cycling. However, you can certainly gain some benefit from other types of
cross training exercise if, as Scott mentioned, you recruit similar muscle
as in cycling. Equally important to whether you realize benefits are the intensity
and the type of cross training exercise. For example, weight training will
not improve mitochondrial capacity whereas endurance training intensity should
be at least 55% VO2max or ~70% MSS/threshold HR to produce the desired effect.
All the best for a great winter season of training!
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