Form & Fitness Q & A
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Fitness questions and answers for December 23, 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.
Metabolism rate in training
Resistance training and fat burning
Foot size difference
Cleat adjustment position
Ride position and health professionals
Metabolism rate in training
You state that resistance training doesn't in and of itself burn fat - agreed.
But doesn't more muscle mass equal more metabolic work, and thus more fat burning?
So assuming some muscle building from resistance training, wouldn't that mean
more fat burning while 'at rest'?
Thanks for all the valuable info!
Portland, OR, USA
Scott Saifer replies:
Absolutely. Muscle mass is 'metabolic' in the sense that it requires energy
to maintain it and it does use some fat at rest. More muscle uses more fat.
Before you consider adding muscle mass as a way of using more fat daily however,
you should consider how much muscle you'd need to add. Let's say you wanted
to add enough muscle to use one pound of fat per month. The following a quick
calculation is full of approximations borrowed form www.wikipedia.org. Don't
think of this as a rigorous bit of science, but just a ball-park estimate.
A typical male is about 50 per cent muscle by weight. Let's consider a 160
pound rider with 80 pounds of muscle mass. To lose an extra pound of fat per
month, you need to use roughly an extra 100 Calories per day. The existing
80 pounds of skeletal muscle, plus nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, etc use
about 1200-1600 calories per day at rest. Roughly 18 per cent or less than
300 Calories per day of that total is used by resting skeletal muscle. To
increase calories used by muscle by 100 per day, you have to increase muscle
mass by at least 33 per cent, or more than 26 pounds.
While it is true that increasing muscle mass increases daily fat utilisation,
the amount of muscle that you have to add to significantly impact fat use
is so great that it makes no sense to try to add muscle as a way to stimulate
weight loss. Strength training is often suggested as a way to maintain muscle
mass while dieting to achieve weight loss.
Even that I'd recommend pondering carefully for bike racers however, many
of whom have more than the ideal muscle mass, especially on the arms and chest,
as well as excess fat. Those who already have small muscles on their arms
and chest but still need to lose weight should consider combining dieting
and strength training for the arms and chest. Others should be careful to
only lift with muscle groups that are smaller than ideal for their cycling
Resistance training and fat burning
I found the responses to the Dec 16 lead Form and Fitness question entitled
"More Fat Burning," somewhat at odds.
Essentially, Mr. Saifer indicates resistance training is not useful for weight
(fat) loss and suggests "exercises that utilise fat as fuel support weight loss
and those that utilise carbohydrate don't." On the other hand, Ms. Hinton indicates
resistance training can lead to "negative energy balance" and thereby support
I enjoy and appreciate this column and realise this topic is complicated but
I'm hopeful you will elaborate/clarify in a future column so your readers might
have a better understanding of resistance training as it relates to calorie
burn and which exercises Mr. Saifer refers to when stating some activities utilise
fat as fuel.
Pam Hinton replies
Scott Saifer's response to the question about the utility of resistance training
for fat loss was limited to fuel selection (carbohydrate vs. fat) during exercise.
He raises a point that is important for optimal recovery - the requisite consumption
of carbohydrate for repletion of glycogen stores. However, post-exercise,
metabolic pathways are regulated such that carbohydrate is used to synthesise
glycogen and not fatty acids due to activation of an enzyme, AMP-kinase, which
acts as a metabolic switch.
My point is that weight and fat loss occur when energy expenditure exceeds
energy intake. It is incorrect to assert that fat loss occurs only with low-intensity
exercise of long duration, which is fueled in large part by oxidation of fatty
acids. Think about it, high-intensity aerobic exercise, such as threshold
intervals, requires use of glucose to generate ATP (because carbohydrate yields
more ATP per litre of oxygen consumed than fat). Yet, it would be ridiculous
to assume that fat loss cannot result from high-intensity interval training.
Resistance training may affect energy balance in two ways: the energy cost
of the exercise and increased resting energy expenditure. Several studies
have shown that, post-exercise, high-intensity resistance training results
in increased metabolic rate (i.e., basal energy expenditure) and shifts substrate
utilisation towards fat oxidation. In addition, resistance training increases
skeletal muscle mass, which elevates basal metabolic rate (BMR). Because BMR
accounts for approximately 60-70 per cent of total energy expenditure, small
increases in BMR may be significant over time.
In summary, resistance training facilitates fat loss because it increases
energy expenditure - both directly and indirectly. In addition, resistance
training protects against loss of skeletal muscle mass when energy intake
is limited. Recent studies have shown that resistance training has additional
metabolic benefits, such as decreased blood lipids and improved insulin sensitivity.
I just read on the D2 shoes website about how they determine cleat placement.
It's the same as I heard quite some time ago but I had actually forgotten about
this method. They suggest you take a measurement from the first metatarsal and
the fifth metatarsal and where that crosses on the foot is where you place the
cleat. I'd be interested in hearing your opinion on this method.
Steve Hogg replies:
That's a fine method of finding a starting position for the cleat, so long
as you remember that all rules of thumb for bike fit get you starting positions
and that you then watch the rider pedalling and correct for any problems you
see. For many riders, this method will get you a cleat fore-aft position that
works fine and doesn't need to be adjusted. Do remember to set the angle as
well on pedal systems that don't allow generous float.
Foot size difference
I am a 46-year-old Cat 2 cyclist who started racing last year. My problem is
that as my training gets harder my different sized feet seem to be giving me
more of a problem. My left is at least two bike shoe sizes smaller than my right.
I have seen a chiro and he said I do not have a leg length discrepancy.
The problem is that it still seems as though the left foot isn't connected
as seamlessly through the pedal stoke as the right foot nor does it seem to
push the same power as the right foot. At the beginning of last year I bought
two different sized shoes (Shimano 300) and was fitted on the bike with those.
My left foot has three shims and the right only two. The total difference in
the length of the feet is far greater than the difference of the balls of the
Jim B Miller
Steve Hogg replies:
This should be an easy one to fix. You have done the right thing in using
differing size shoes on each foot. You say "My left foot has three shims and
the right only two". I suspect you mean wedges not shims. Wedges can't the
foot; i.e., that is lift the inner edge or outside edge of the foot depending
on the placement of the thick edge of the wedge. A shim elevates the foot,
i.e. moves it further from the top of pedal platform and are used to correct
measurable or functional limb length differences.
That 2 sizes smaller left foot shortens the effective distance your left
leg / foot can reach to the pedal. That means you need to place a shim or
shims underneath the left cleat to compensate for the shorter foot. You can
make a shim out of any suitable material or you can contact bikefit.com for
purpose made shims. I need to declare an interest here in that I designed
the shims bikefit.com sell.
The other consideration is that the placement of the cleats relative to foot
in shoe should be different on each side because of the large difference in
size. Have a look at these links for advice on where to position the cleats
on each shoe. The first deals with cleat
position while the second looks at issues surrounding the
ball of your foot.
I don't know how many mm of shimming you will require but the correct height
shim stack is the one where both legs feel like they are reaching through
the bottom of the pedal stroke with equal facility and fluency while nott
causing any issues over the top of the pedal stroke on left side. Additionally,
you will need to move the cleat on the left shoe back 1 mm further than the
suggested position for every 5 mm of shim stack to help negate the rocking
torque effect inherent with the use of shims.
Cleat adjustment position
I have a problem with cleat/pedal wear that I hope you can help me with. Steve
Hogg may be the best man here!
I am a 37-year-old male that usually rides 250km per week. About six months
ago I upgraded to a pair of look keo pedals with the grey cleats featuring 4.5
degree float. For some reason I have been prematurely wearing out the right
hand side of the right cleat and the right side of the right pedal as well.
Previously I was using a Look delta pedal set with a red cleat set featuring
a 9 degree float so I'm suspecting this was masking the problem, however my
right heel used to hit the chain stay often whilst climbing.
Essentially I have found that my right foot has a natural duck position compared
to my left.
Today I tried to compensate for this by adjusting my cleat to point the heel
of the my right show inwards. During climbing I found that that my right foot
was using the full float range (I could feel it slipping back and forward completely
in the float range) but my heel started to hit the chain stay just like it did
with the red 9 degree float delta cleats.
My first reaction to this was to perhaps use a black cleat (0 degree float)
on the right foot to "train" it to be straight. My only concern with this was
possible knee injuries that could result.
What can I do about this right duck foot?
Steve Hogg replies:
Look Delta pedals and cleats raise the riders foot 6-7 mm further above the
pedal axle than Look Keo pedals and cleats. When you changed from Look Delta
pedals to Look Keo, did you drop your seat by that amount?
If you didn't, the solution to your problem may be that simple as sitting
too high would account for everything you mention. You describe your right
foot as naturally pedalling more heel in than the left. That suggests that
you ride with an externally rotated right hip which is probably caused by
sitting with the right hip forward on the seat, an innominate rotation on
the right side or less commonly, a bowed lower right leg.
When we sit too high, at an autonomic level we all 'choose' a side to protect
and a side to sacrifice. If you haven't dropped your seat then that is what
has happened subsequently.
Were the Keo cleats placed on your old shoes or did you get new shoes at
the same time?
Was any attempt made to put the Keo cleats on the shoe in a position that
left your foot position over the pedal unchanged?
If you did drop the seat, get back to me with the info I've requested and
we'll go from there.
Ride position and health professionals
I know I have a problem with not sitting on the bike symmetrically but my issue
is, how do I get this resolved? This is also apparent when standing and even
sitting in an ergonomic office chair. Most of the 'physios', chiropractors and
'sports doctors' in my area seem to be more keen with a few random 'back cracks'
and then sending me on my way without much in the way of improvement. I could
try trail and error based upon what I feel but this could make things worse.
Is there a recognised standard or qualification that I should be looking for
in doctor/professional or is it best to just try to find out via 'word of mouth'
or google who is worth going too?
Vacaville, CA, USA
Steve Hogg replies:
Sadly, I hear of situations like yours all the time. I don't know what you
do for a living but if I asked you the question: "Of the people that you know
that have a similar job to yours; what percentage would you trust to do your
work for you?" - you would probably answer "About 5%" Like all other service
professions, the health profession is no different in terms of customer satisfaction
in my experience.
Because of youthful stupidity and misadventure, I have been a big consumer
of health services and have learned a few lessons regarding being a health
consumer. Basically, you need to find someone who is competent and above all,
interested in educating you and equipping you with knowledge and tools to
resolve whatever problems you have. People like that are around, just not
as common as they should be. When I fit someone, they leave with a folder
containing a lot of info pertinent to them. I have cut and pasted one page
below that may help.
Notes on dealing with health professionals
I will have probably advised you to consult various health professionals
regarding issues that I have found during your assessment and noted in this
folder. We live in a culture where the prevailing model in the health industry
is the drug / surgical model. Sometimes this is appropriate, sometimes less
so. I am not anti health profession, but have found that like car mechanics,
building tradesmen and other service professions, good health professionals,
in the sense that they have interest in, and insight into your problems, are
not as common as they should be. Here are a few tips.
1. Always take a written list of questions - You need to use your time with
a health professional to help educate yourself as to the issues you have and
the options you have open to you. With a written list, you won't get side
tracked. Don't leave until you have answers in language you understand so
that you can make informed judgements about potential solution paths and remain
more in control of the process of structural improvement.
2. Never give unearnt respect - Professional respect is something you give
someone when you feel their course of treatment or advice is achieving results.
Ask questions and get answers so that you understand what is going on and
that you are part of the process and driving it to some degree. Better health
professionals will want to give explanations without prompting. If in doubt
about anything, ask, ask, ask.
3. Always give feedback - Some people in the health professions assume that
they have 'fixed' someone because they don't see the client again. In many
cases health consumers don't like to make a fuss or complain, they just look
elsewhere instead. If we give feedback, the people we are paying for advice
or treatment know the state of play and can modify their approach to treating
your specific issues accordingly. It is hard to expect health professionals
to improve their abilities to treat or advise on a course of remedial action
unless you, the client, provide quality feedback to them.
4. Don't give up - If you feel you have done everything and seen everyone
in an attempt to resolve an issue for limited results, don't give up. Every
problem has a solution to varying degrees. Often the most time consuming thing
is finding the person(s) with the necessary insight to advise or treat you
5. Wherever possible, choose health professionals who are cyclists or triathletes
or who have a cycling/tri clientele. Simply, people like that are best equipped
to help resolve any issues you have that limit you on the bike.