Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for October 14, 2008
The Cyclingnews form & fitness panel
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.
Jon Heidemann (www.peaktopeaktraining.com)
is a USAC Elite Certified cycling coach with a BA in Health Sciences from
the University of Wyoming. The 2001 Masters National Road Champion has
competed at the Elite level nationally and internationally for over 14
years. As co-owner of Peak to Peak Training Systems, Jon has helped athletes
of all ages earn over 84 podium medals at National & World Championship
events during the past 8 years.
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.
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.
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. Clients range from recreational riders and riders with
disabilities to World and National champions.
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 (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.
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.
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.
Steve Owens (www.coloradopremiertraining.com)
is a USA Cycling certified coach, exercise physiologist and owner of Colorado
Premier Training. Steve has worked with both the United States Olympic
Committee and Guatemalan Olympic Committee as an Exercise Physiologist.
He holds a B.S. in Exercise & Sports Science and currently works with
multiple national champions, professionals and World Cup level cyclists.
Through his highly customized online training format, Steve and his handpicked
team of coaches at Colorado Premier Training work with cyclists and multisport
athletes around the world.
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.
Michael Smartt (www.wholeathlete.com)
is an Associate Coach with Whole Athlete. He holds a Masters degree
in exercise physiology, is a USA Cycling Level I (Elite) Coach and is
certified by the NSCA (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist).
Michael has more than 10 years competitive experience, primarily on the
road, but also in cross and mountain biking. He is currently focused on
coaching road cyclists from Jr. to elite levels, but also advises triathletes
and Paralympians. Michael is a strong advocate of training with power
and has over 5 years experience with the use and analysis of power meters.
Michael also spent the 2007 season as the Team Coach for the Value Act
Capital Women's Cycling Team.
Earl Zimmermann (www.wenzelcoaching.com)
has over 12 years of racing experience and is a USA Cycling Level II Coach.
He brings a wealth of personal competitive experience to his clients.
He coaches athletes from beginner to elite in various disciplines including
road and track cycling, running and triathlon.
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.
Spacers for MTB cleats
Speedplay cleat extenders
I am a 30-year-old male recreational rider who rides mostly cross and 24 hour
races. I have ridden competitively at some times and quite actively for the
past 10 years on a mix of MTB, road, cross, and fixed throughout the city.
This past spring, I started to notice what I can only describe as 'a new bad
habit'. It seems that when pedaling, my right foot has begun to rotate about
the axis of my cleat, through my normal pedal stroke, resulting in my heel moving
closer then farther away from the bike as I pedal. At first I attributed it
to a loose or incorrectly adjusted cleat. Then maybe I thought it was a problem
with a certain pair of shoes and kind of left it at a theory, since it didn't
seem to be a major concern and I couldn't really pinpoint it.
However, yesterday I was commuting home from work on my cross bike and it occured
again. This time I was riding eggbeater pedals with these little clip-on platforms
that Crank Bros provided with a pair of my wife's Smarty pedals and normal street
shoes. Even without being attached to the very smooth pedal and being able to
place my foot at any angle, I could feel my foot rotating as I pedaled.
I am trying to figure out what possibly is causing this and what my next step
is: leg/thigh/foot length difference? Any insight what to try next?
Prague, Czech Republic
Steve Hogg replies:
If this is a recent problem, what has changed?
Have you changed shoes or cleat position?
Have you lowered your bars, raised your seat or moved your seat rearwards?
Have you had a fall or are you less flexible than usual?
Have you had any digestive issues or do you feel bloated and sluggish?
If the answer to all of that is no, drop your seat 5 mm and let me know what
the result is.
Cory Benson then responded:
The problem is indeed recent; it is in the last 4-6 months, having only really
become annoying in the last two or three months.
I haven't specifically changed shoes. I have a new and an old pair of Sidi
Dominators that I rotate back and forth with depending on mood and weather.
About a month after I noticed the problem, I had the sole of my new right shoe
delaminate. I thought this may have been my problem and sent it of to be repaired.
(Now I wonder, did my new foot movement overstress the shoe? A little chicken-and-egg
dilemma.) That being said, I have noticed the issue with the second pair of
shoes, now normal street shoes as well, and the shoe that was sent back and
repaired by Sidi in Italy. Cleat positions seem to remain the same.
I primarily notice the problem on my mountain bike, on which I did install
a jones H-bar about 8 months ago. The normal reach position is very close to
what it was before, but it is possible that I may favor the more forward position
more than I rode on bar ends previously? Seat position has remained unchanged.
On my secondary bike, where I haven't noticed the problem as prominently, I
recently upgraded a severly worn Flite for a new Arione, and installed it at
the same height and approximated the fore-aft position (because of the drastically
different shape.) The third, the commuting/fixie/cross where I have noticed
the problem with street shoes has remained unchanged, but truthfully is about
6cm too small for me and has since been taken out of service.
No recent falls, but I stopped weekly Yoga practice about 18 months ago due
to work pressures and language barrier issues after moving to a new city. It
is probably safe to say that I am a bit less flexible now than I was a year
and a half ago.
Off and on over the past 18 months, I have also had minor bloating and a perceived
increase in intestinal gas, which I have attributed to a significant change
in diet and new job/city stress. Any sluggishness (which thankfully has been
minor) I like to blame on the 100+km mountain bike rides my wife drags me on,
in lieu of my lack of fitness, as my workday riding volume has generally decreased
in the last 2 years.
Wow, looking back on all that is a bit scary. When I started to respond to
your questions, I thought I would write 'NO' to them all and say I would lower
my saddle. I will try that though and will keep you updated. Any more insight
into my answers/extra background info would of course be greatly appreciated.
Steve Hogg replies:
Three bikes and differing degrees of the same problem on each means that
at some level, your position plays a part.If you can find a competent bike
fitter who takes a structural approach to his job, it would be worth getting
The other thing to check out is your diet. Time and again I see people with
right hip problems (which is why your foot is floating around, more than likely).
Over the years I've developed a network of really competent structural health
professionals that I refer clients to address their issues. I've lost count
of the number of people whose right hip issues have resolved or diminished
noticeably once they sorted out food allergies, or just simple stuff like
drinking enough water or eating enough fibre or improving their diet. That's
why I asked about any digestive issues. There seems to be a correlation between
liver and bowel health and right hip issues as I see it too often to be coincidence.
From the sound of it, you have recently been stressed with relocation, new
job etc. Get back into your yoga and see a good naturopath or nutritionist
and with their help sort out any dietary issues and I would be surprised if
your problem doesn't disappear or diminish noticeably.
I'm a competitive cyclist, both mountain bike and road, I'm a 16 year old (nearly
17) male; my height is 180 cm and weight is about 67kg.
For the last 3-4 months (since June) I have gradually been seeing a drop in
Just before June I had started to do efforts and up my training. I did this
to counter a bad spell of races - big mistake! I also hit a patch of about five
big races within six weeks. And they were my first races for about 5-6 months.
Between the 5-6 months I continued to train, though.
I have diagnosed myself with about 65 per cent of the symptoms of overtraining,
including, constant fatigue, loss of motivation/interest and competitive drive.
At first I had a little one week break. Then I continued to train, but not too
much, just enough in addition to weekly road races.
Then the evident feelings hit me, but at the time was clueless to what was
happening! I was losing my competitive drive, motivation (and I got my new road
bike at this time so I should have been motivated), feeling slow while training,
not enjoying training.
This continued for 2.5 months, Mid-August, when I was recommended a two-week
break. I took it and felt a bit more enthused, but after one week, it hit me.
I went for a planned easy 30km spin, was cut down to 14km and averaged 16km/h,
(usual I average around 27-30km/h).
I have continued on for a few weeks and had the same kind of ride the other
day... that being said I have had some good rides but the feeling isn't there
and now it's coming to be that about 50 per cent of my riding is unbearable.
It's really scary and I do want to race competitively again! But am really worried
if I will recover from this.
What can I do, It's been about four months now (of the constantly fatigued
legs and slowly decreasing motivation) and about three weeks since I had my
first unbearable ride. I was thinking of resting (actively and passively), including
light cross training, and light spinning on the bike for 25 minutes maximum
plus a balanced diet and stretches.
Carrie Cheadle replies:
If you aren't already - I suggest working with a coach that can teach you
how to utilise periodised training to prevent overtraining in the future.
Overtraining usually means under-recovery. Overtraining is extremely complex
and what brings it on for one person is different for another AND recovery
from overtraining for one person might look different than another. I've seen
athletes take from three weeks to over a year to recover.
You should find some resources in your area and work with someone on how
to SLOWLY ramp up your workouts so you don't extend the length of time it
takes to recover. Be patient - it may take longer than you want. You don't
want to push yourself too fast and make a three-month recovery turn into an
eight-month recovery. Find some sports medicine doctors, coaches, or other
cyclists that have experience with overtraining and ask for advice.
Life stress contributes to overtraining as well so as you are recovering
physically; make sure you are taking care of the mental side as well. Go hang
out with your friends or focus on other things in your life that you enjoy.
You can also utilise relaxation tools: listen to music, download some guided
imagery or progressive relaxation onto your iPod, etc. Utilise some experts'
advice and be proactive with the relaxation part of your recovery. Good luck!
Hi, I'm a 47-year-old male that has recently been bitten by the road biking
bug. Last year I rode over 3000 miles and lost around 35 pounds. In the course
of the season I rode with cyclists that were training for the Lotoja Classic,
a 206-mile race from Logan, UT to Jackson, WY. I decided that I wanted to give
it a try this year. For Christmas I got some Sidi Genius 5s. As soon as the
time changed and I could get out in the evening I started riding and I put 1500
miles in with the Sidis and was always fighting with hot spots on the outside
of my feet. I decided to get a professional fitting and they moved my seat up
and back and shortened my stem as well as installing some shims under my cleats.
Long story short, I got an inflamed IT band. I put my position back to what
it was and went back to my old shoes and was able to rehab it in time to race
Lotoja (206 miles in 11 hours 29 minutes - actual riding average speed was 18.5mph)
but I still had some discomfort. But then on the following Monday the pain was
so bad that it took me off the bike. The pain has switched from the left knee
to the right knee. The pain is on the outside of the knee (at about 7 o'clock
and an inch away in relation to the patella). I've really eased up on the riding
and I can ride about 20 miles or so before it starts bothering me but I'm really
worried about next season. Will laying off it over the winter let it recover?
Should I experiment with cleat placement over the winter? By the way, I'm not
really a masher, either.
Steve Hogg replies:
Firstly, have a look at these posts and position your cleats accordingly.
That should eliminate cleat position as a potential stressor.
Next, the ITB inflammation after your seat had been raised means that either
your seat is too high and the plane of movement of one leg is being challenged
as a result. Or the wedging (and I'm assuming you mean wedges that cant the
foot, NOT shims that lift the foot because you refer to "installing shims
under my cleats") would only be under the one leg - the functionally or measurably
shorter one - and you have too much correction.
Or the problem is really simple, like a cleat rotational angle that doesn't
allow a measure of free movement either side of the angle that your foot naturally
wants to sit. Check those things out and if a problem remains, get back to
me for Plan B.
Ken Hicks then responded:
Thanks for getting back to me. I'll see what happens when I put the bike on
the trainer. Yeah, I meant wedges. I'm using Look Keo pedals so the float angle
should not be an issue so I'll try lowering my seat a bit. It was initially
raised about 10mm by the fitter and I put it back down to where it was after
the inflamed IT band but I've been fooling around with it to try and find a
Steve Hogg replies:
If your bike fitter used a goniometer to determine seat height, be a little
sceptical of the result. I think it's a flawed method. Often if the seat is
too high, we will autonomically choose a side to protect and a side to sacrifice.
If ITB problems only occur on a bike and on one side only, a seat height that
is too high is often the reason or part of the reason. Let me know how you
I am a 34-year-old, B grade cyclist. Last year I had a crash during a bunch
sprint where the chain ring from another bike went through my left elbow shattering
the Olecneron. the short version from the surgeon was "we pulled out all the
bits and replaced the 2 largest pieces and pinned them". So now I have 4 pins
in my left elbow. The nature of the injury has left me with a loss of 25 degrees
loss of extension in the left elbow and significant muscle loss in the lower
I currently have a 120mm stem 42cm bars.My saddle is the Specialized Toupe
Team. I have made no adjustments as yet and have just ridden according to comfort
on the bike. Fellow riders have noted that although my hips are level my shoulders
are slightly off, when on the hoods and tops of the bars. My personal adjustment
when on the hoods to counteract the extension issue is to ride more aero and
bend the right arm more. I have noticed that when riding that the bike itself
is slightly leaning to the right as well.
My question is; although I have continued to race and have had some significant
results which have resulted in me being picked up by a local team, what position
changes relating to bars and saddle could be made to adjust to this loss of
Steve Hogg replies:
So no pain or discomfort?
What I would suggest is that you lift your left brake hood higher than the
right as a start. Then remove the bar tape on the LH bar and build up the
lower part of the drop section and the rear and upper of the top section with
epoxy putty. That will reduce your reach on the LH side of the bar and should
solve or minimise your issues.
Spacers for MTB cleats
I am a cat 3 road racer and have visited multiple doctors to figure out my
leg length discrepancy. After getting a structural x-ray of both legs side-to-side
we found out that I have a 2mm difference in my tibia and 2mm difference in
my femur. So in total I have compensated it by putting a 2mm spacer in my road
cleat and moving the pedal back 2mm in order to make up the 4mm difference.
The spacer I use on my road cleat I received from a doctor in Boulder, but
he misdiagnosed me with a 6mm difference as he did not do a full scan just an
x-ray of my hips so the other 2mm was purely muscular that I have corrected
with physical therapy. I cannot find any spacers like the one he gave me that
can be used on the MTB pedals. His was a solid piece of plastic that is indestructible
and I have no problem engaging the cleats on my Shimano road pedals.
My question is I bought a set of Le Wedges for SPD cleats and they would never
stay in place and when I could finally engage the pedal it would not hold the
cleat for very long without twisting the cleat in the shoe all around. I would
tighten the cleat as much as I could but it still did not correct the problem.
Is there a better set of spacers out there that I can use for MTB pedals besides
Scott Saifer replies:
I've had good luck cutting spacers out of the tops of yogurt tubs, but something
is odd about your experience with the Le Wedges. I've installed many sets
and not had any problem with getting the cleats to stick. Is there a chance
your screws are not the right length or that you are for some reason unable
to tighten them adequately? The ones that take an allen-key can be made a
lot tighter than the ones that demand a flat-blade screw driver for instance.
When properly positioned what would optimal knee bend be between (seat height,
foot at 6 o-clock)? I'm between 28-30 degrees.
Scott Saifer replies:
There is no one ideal angle for all riders for several reasons. First, there
are some technical problems with the concept. At what angle will you set your
ankle and foot when you take the measurement? Horizontal? The angle your take
when pedaling with minimal effort? The angle you take when pedaling hard but
spinning? When you are mashing a big gear up a hill? In each of these situations,
your foot and ankle angle at the bottom of the pedal stroke will be a bit
different and the knee angle will change with the foot angle. The only measurement
you can make without a motion capture camera would be a static measurement,
but the knee angle when sitting still on the bike may not be particularly
close to that you have when pedaling. Even with a motion capture camera you
have to pick a cadence and force.
Next problem is that before you can find an optimal angle for anything, you
have to define "optimal". Do you want to achieve the lowest injury frequency?
Highest power for short efforts? Highest sustained power for longer efforts?
Greatest potential for competitive success? is there any reason to believe
that these definitions would all lead to the same result? That's something
that scientists would have to study. Because injury frequencies are so low
and so many factors influence success in competition, one would have to study
literally thousands of riders to optimize these two variables. The work has
never been done. If someone were to do the work, I'd be willing to bet that
there would turn out to be a range of knee angles at the bottom of the pedal
stroke that are compatible with injury-free competitive success, but that
each rider has his or her own optimal angle, probably all falling in a range
of 10 degrees, but not falling in a range of only one or two degrees.
Check out Steve Hogg's posts related to saddle height and set back to find
a surefire way to set your saddle to your own personal optimal position. Good
Speedplay cleat extenders
I read a tip last week from Steve Hogg and decided to give them a try. Best
$25 I ever spent!
I hadn't been able to get my cleat far enough back before, so I was skeptical
of his cleat position theories. My feet have never been completely comfortable
no matter what shoe I tried. I got the cleat extender because of his recommendations
more out of desperation than faith. All my foot pain went away! I did two 60-mile
rides to get my legs used to the change, moved my seat up a bit, and suddenly
everything clicked. I'm amazed. Reading his fit papers and going with them got
me into a very fine fit, all the irritating little pains are gone, I breathe
better, my ITB feels great, and I can walk after a hard session.