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Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for January 9, 2008
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.
Stuck in a hole
Threshold power improvements
Sprinterval DVDs and indoor training
I am relatively new to cycling; only starting two months ago. Given that I
have what are commonly known as 'chicken' legs and most elite cyclists seemed
to have massive thighs and calves, should I hit the gym in winter and attempt
to bulk up?
I am concerned that my skinny legs, while perhaps suited for endurance, will
not be able to generate the power/speeds required. I am aware that weight training
does not help endurance and there are other ways to improve power, but does
a lack of base size matter?
Dave Palese replies:
Welcome to the wonderful world of cycling! I'm sure you will enjoy it.
The short answer to you your question, "should I hit the gym in winter
and attempt to bulk up?", is "No!"
Now that being said, using the gym to improve overall leg strength can be a
good idea, depending on the amount of time you have to train. If you time is
limited, you can incorporate on-the-bike strength training to improve strength.
The point I want to make is that you should not include strength training
in your program with the intention of changing your body type.
Who knows, just by improving your strength capabilities, and leaving your body
type the same, you might become a well-balanced all-rounder - able to climb
like a champ, and hold your own in a sprint. Don't pigeon hole yourself. It's
just too early to know.
Stuck in a hole
I am male, 37 years old, and recently returned to training after a few years'
hiatus. I have been steadily increasing my base training kilometres over the
last four months. I figure it will take me about 12 months to get back into
proper racing shape considering the time I've had off the bike.
Now I'm in a hole. I can't get my heart rate up; I'm feeling a bit flat and
am struggling on rides that I recently was handling ok. Any help?
Scott Saifer replies:
Your situation is pretty normal among self-coached riders and riders coached
by "stick to your plan" coaches. It is not the end of the world and
it need not be a major setback. You need to do three things:
1) Take some recovery time
2) Figure out if you did anything in particular wrong to get to this place and
correct it if needed, and
3) check with a doctor if 1) and 2) don't help.
Recovery time does not mean getting off the bike. It does mean keeping the
intensity low (less than 70% of maximum heart rate if you use a heart rate monitor,
so easy that you are turning the pedals but not really pushing on them if you
don't), and doing a few less hours than you have been doing.
Not knowing anything about your training plan so far, I'd suggest that your
recovery rides be about one half as long as your recent long rides. Keep doing
recovery rides exclusively until you're heart rate responds normally again.
Next examine your eating (at least 200 Calories per hour of mostly carbohydrate
while riding), time spent above 80% of maximum heart rate (should be close to
zero during a period of increasing volume), sleeping, life stress, signs of
illness and anything else that might impact your ability to recover. Examine
your training increase. Was it a realistic 10% or so per week? If it's been
more, back off and start a new more gradual ramp.
If you find no errors of recovery or training plan, and the recovery days don't
bring you around in a week or so, check with the doctors just in case. You might
have something worth treating.
Threshold power improvements
I started my base training this season with a 20-minute threshold test with
a Powertap. I was reasonably surprised to see it had not dropped too much from
the end of the season. November was 315 Watts compared to 340 Watts in September.
After a three-week session of base training, my December threshold power was
So my questions: Is this the sort of increase that would be expected after
the first month of training? Can this rate of increase be maintained or is a
plateau to be expected?
Dave Palese replies:
The progression you have seen is exactly what you want to see! You seem to
have timed you rest and activity very well for this time in the year. You ended
your season. Rested. And then you came back having not lost anything. The lower
number in November was more than likely just not having the pipes open after
a short layoff.
The recovery, or regeneration period in the season is where a lot of riders
cut themselves off at the knees. Too long a rest period, and not enough activity/intensity
to prevent significant detraining. But you seem to have done things right to
this point. Keep up the good work!
I am training about 250 kilometres per week, on both flat and undulating roads.
After a hard session training, I am particularly sore on the top of my thighs
above the knees. Is this a common ailment? Is there any advice that you give
me that would alleviate some of this soreness?
Steve Owens replies:
It's possible that your saddle is slightly lower than it should be. If there
are no other issues, try raising your saddle 3mm and leave it there for a week
to ten days with training and see if you make any progress.
Where is your saddle in relation to the bottom bracket? You could also be a
little too far forward.
Sprinterval DVDs and indoor training
I love spin classes at the gym but have not the time to do the classes at the
moment so I was wondering if there are spin class DVDs? Even better would be
a DVD of a spin class using the principals of Steve Bouchers' eight seconds
flat out and 12 slow?
And what do you think the best home exercise bike is?
Dave Palese replies:
Of the DVDs that I have seen, the Spinerval DVDs that Troy Jacobson puts out
seem to be the nicer of the ones on the market. They offer quite a variety and
they seem to be easy to follow, and use. I will say that most of the workouts
I have viewed have been a bit too much intensity per session for many riders.
Just not enough rest between efforts. And thus the focus of the workout seems
to be blurred. Take those comments with a grain of salt.
As far as indoor bike... your bike on a trainer is the best. It is the most
specific. It's best to train on your equipment as much as possible. Invest in
a nice fluid trainer (Elite Fluid Alu, or Primo Kut Kinetic, etc.). Trainer
systems that are like CompuTrainer, self-resistance adjusting and all, have
really come down into an affordable price range if you put a decent amount of
time in through the winter. Elite, and Tacx both make PC interfaced trainers
for about $900 that give lots of visual and training feedback.
If your bike on a trainer isn't an option, then I recommend the Lemond RevMaster
with the Pilot computer. Nice amount of feedback for the money. CycleOps also
has several models with various features, but I think that they are pretty pricey.
But I don't have any personal experience with them.
A couple of simple questions regarding chamois cream. Are they any more effective
than using an antiseptic cream (such as Savlon)? Which brands do not contain
almond oil? (I am a nut allergy sufferer so Assos chamois cream is unsuitable)
Scott Saifer replies:
I'm not familiar with Savlon in particular, but there is nothing magic about
stuff that is labelled as chamois cream and sold in bike stores. If you use
a product and you are comfortable after a few hours, it works.
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