Form & Fitness Q & A
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A big welcome this week to two new members of our panel of coaches and fitness
experts. Georg Ladig and Benoit Nave
are the Numeric Mastermind and Coach/Nutritionist respectively at 2peak.com,
a new training website that provides a daily updated, dynamic, personal training
plan to help you train systematically like a pro and get in peak shape for the
key events of your season. The objective is simple: to allocate your time budget
ideally to calculate your individual path to peak performance.
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.
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.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.
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.
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.
Fitness questions and answers for September 3, 2003
Feeling my oats?
Top calf muscle problem
Training at altitude
The next step
Feeling my oats?
I am a 41 year old male mountain bike racer. 6ft 3in tall at 225lbs. I have
been racing in my state's series, (Wisconsin Off Road Series), for 2 years and
have a question about oatmeal.
As a sport Clydesdale racer, one might think that oatmeal for breakfast
would be apropos. So I decided to try some for breakfast before a race, having
read how good a choice it would be. This was eaten roughly 4 hours before my
start time. I didn't change anything else in my pre-race race routine that morning
or the night before.
The race was a struggle from the start. My legs and lungs never opened up,
and I got a bad case of heartburn. The second lap was worse than the first,
with me stopping to be sick twice, and not from high exertion. I survived the
third lap and finished my race. After warming down I had a good appetite and
Is this Clyde oatmeal intolerant? Normal breakfast pre-race is a couple
of bagels with peanut butter and sports drink. Is there any kind of blood type
related / digestive problems normally associated with oat products? Even if
your answer is no, I think I have still lost my taste for oatmeal for a while.
J. Chris Daming
Eddie Monnier replies:
Sorry to hear that you had an unpleasant race experience but it's not immediately
obvious that the oatmeal itself was the source of your troubles. Did you use
milk? Could the milk have been bad? But even that I would doubt as a cause
because usually when one gets sick from bad food it happens within an hour
or so of ingesting the cause. And you didn't get sick for some four hours.
Was whatever you put in your water bottles something you had used without
Personally, oatmeal is one of my favorite pre-race foods though I usually
do not add any dairy to mine (may add some soy or rice milk though). I usually
have some eggs as well for protein. And I know it's a common breakfast for
pro's (eg, Mark McCormack had oatmeal with peanut butter for breakfast the
morning he won the US Pro Road Race title this year).
The lesson here is never try anything for the first time the morning of a
race. Give it a test run during training first.
A recent fall during a racing bunch sprint (rider fell under my front wheel)
has left me with "acromioclavicular joint dislocation, closed". I took the 50km
hr fall on my head and then shoulder. The rotation was so effective my bike
only got scratched on the brake hoods and the rear of the seat.
I believe the lay persons expression is that I've buggered my AC joint.
If anyone saw Robbie McEwen interviewed in his singlet during the TdF, they'd
have seen what I've got - a bloody great lump on the end of my shoulder that
makes it look like my arm socket is an inch and a half below where it should
be. The feeling is that the end of my collar bone is about to push out the shoulder
at any moment. I'm not normally a wimp but carrying a frying pan on my injured
right side brings a tear to the eye.
My X-rays show the end of the collar bone sitting about an inch out of the
joint where it used to very happily reside.
I'm an amateur racer, aged 37, weight 70.5kg, height 183cm training between
200 and 400 km per week. Race 1-2 times per month and am 10 months back into
racing after quite a few years of casual training only.
My question is what is the best way to recover from such an injury? I'm
2 weeks post the injury and have had physio to help reduce inflammation and
this has worked. Mobility at day 11 (post the fall) allows hairbrushing but
I can't quite shave the left side of my face (opposite the injury), nor can
I fully brush teeth with the hand of my injured arm. Can just tie my shoelaces.
A surgeon has suggested I have nine weeks off the bike with only walking for
exercise and carrying nothing heavier than a mobile in the hand of my injured
I have a desk job (60 hrs pw) and do a lot of keyboard work and travel by
airplane on a weekly basis (2-6 hrs pw).
So far my anger to the idiot who touched wheels has meant I've not felt
uncomfortable but the bone sitting up off the shoulder is starting to get to
Dave Fleckenstein replies:
Acromioclavicular injuries are one of the most common injuries to cyclists
and it sounds as though you have a pretty serious one. The clavicle is connected
to the acromion through a dense fibrous ligament. The acromion is the bony
"hood" over the shoulder that is actually part of the shoulder blade. The
problem with acromioclavicular injuries is that, whereas many other ligament
are surrounded by muscle which give integrity to the joint, there is relatively
little musculature to help support this important joint. Thus, any motion
which tractions the arm will separate the joint. Frequently a step or "piano
key" will exist where the clavicle becomes prominent because it is no longer
held in place.
Look at any group of cyclists and, inevitably, a number of them will have
one clavicle (or both) prominently raised. They are graded in severity from
I to III. Grade I tears rarely limit riding other than pain and some initial
but decreasing clicking present at the shoulder. The Tyler Hamilton approach
(suffer but still ride) is appropriate, although some German director sportif
may question if you truly have a tear... Type II injuries are moderate tears
and should have minimal pressure put on them for 2-3 weeks - the turbo trainer
is the training equipment of choice. Type III tears are complete tears that
yield an unstable joint. While surgery is definitely an option for these individuals,
it doesn't always guarantee a stable shoulder. While the pain will eventually
calm down, the concern is that the joint will be unstable, have early arthritic
changes and lead to a surgery known as a distal clavicular resection, where
the shoulder-end of the clavicle is removed.
Having had two grade II AC ligament tears on each shoulder (I have since
learned to keep a bike upright) and having worked with numerous athletes with
this problem, I can say that your options are limited. Taking time off may
allow the acute injury to heal, but if the scar formation is not adequate
or occurs with your clavicle in a displaced position, you will have long term
difficulty. Your injury sounds severe enough that I would consider having
a sports medicine-based orthopedic surgeon examine it - I have two cyclists
currently as patients that have done very well with stabilization procedures
and are progressing back to cycling very well.
Top calf muscle problem
I am 33 yrs old, 5ft 7in tall and weigh 8st 10lbs (maybe a little underweight)
and I have had a nagging calf muscle problem since about the start of the year.
It centers around the top left hand corner of the left leg, (the leg is
just slightly longer than the right though not massively so my physio says)
the feelings I get in are hard to describe, I know if you massage the area with
fingers you get the feeling as if being winded, or just tighter than the other
I have been to my physio about the problem (brilliant physio - former pro
cyclist Martin Earley) he massaged it and generally freed it up, he asked me
to bring my bike along to check the position. The position turned out to be
too low and we agreed to raise it and see after a few weeks if the problem would
It didn't, I intuitively thought the height might be a little too high (because
if I peddled backwards I could feel it in the ham-string top calf muscle area)
I lowered it and after 2 weeks the problem has eased.
When I do feel it on the bike it's during hard efforts. I stretch afterwards,
but I've a feeling the quad stretch maybe irritates it (bending the leg back
towards the buttocks) & like many cyclists I don't have a great degree of flexibility.
On only a few occasions just lifting the leg into certain positions the next
day (getting into drivers seat in the car, lifting the leg up I can feel it
in the calf muscle ham-string area).
I ride on average about 3-4 times a week and average about 30miles a ride,
I will do about 2 full on rides and 2 easygoing rides in that week, I don't
ride competitively though I want to, but this ain't helping!
I would be grateful for any advice you could offer.
Dave Fleckenstein replies:
This doesn't sound like the normal calf problem to me, and I would be suspicious
of two possibilities.
First of all, I have concern that your pain may actually be radicular pain
generated from an issue in your low back. More than once (in fact more times
than I can count!) I have had a patient come in with unresolving calf or hamstring
pain, a long history of treatment to the apparently affected area, only to
find out that the pain is due to a disc herniation or nerve root irritation.
The hint for me is that the pain you have getting into the car or extending
the leg puts minimal stress on the calf, but significant stress on the disc
and nerve root. There are actually a number of medical tests based on this
phenomena that assist in determining the root cause of the pain. The calf
is a frequent area for nerve related pain to exist, and the upper, outside
portion of the calf is a very frequent area.
The second issue could be a local hamstring strain. The hamstrings (actually
4 muscles) insert at the upper part of the calf and can often be mistaken
for the calf. Again, your symptoms are related more to straightening your
leg (hamstring tension) than flexing your ankle (calf tension). When the saddle
is raised (which increases hamstring tension but decreases calf tension) you
feel worse. When you lower it, reducing hamstring tension, you feel better.
Either way, I would consider having this reevaluated from both a neurological
perspective (neural tension testing, reflexes, spine testing) and a flexibility
perspective , paying close attention to the hamstrings.
Training at altitude
Here in the Rocky Mountains, many of us live and train at high altitudes,
sometimes as high as 9,000 feet above sea level. I understand that living at
such high elevations is beneficial, but training here can be detrimental, especially
when it comes to higher intensity work. Sometimes we can travel quickly to lower
elevations for training sessions, but often times this is either not possible
or not convenient.
1) What are the consequences of long term high altitude training?
2) What types of training should be done at lower elevations, when possible?
3) During an indoor trainer workout, would supplemental oxygen overcome
the problems associated with high-altitude training, or would it create more
problems? If supplemental oxygen would help, how might a cyclist gauge and control
the amount of oxygen necessary to simulate lower elevation training?
Brett Aitken replies:
The effects of long term altitude training are still highly debatable but
many studies have shown that there are some negatives to altitude training.
These include a reduction in muscle mass along with lower levels of oxygen
uptake, lactate levels, heart rate and power compared to sea level.
All this points to the fact that there is an overall reduction in the quality
of sessions which focus on intensity. It is therefore recommended that when
you do have the opportunity to train at sea level you should predominantly
focus on sessions which will test your limits of power output and raise lactate
levels beyond what you'd normally experience at altitude.
For an endurance cyclist these would normally include efforts/intervals focusing
on increasing Anaerobic Threshold power output and VO2 Max power.
Those Ric Stern workouts - the next step
I wrote a while back about interpreting lactate threshold power level measurements
from a trainer and how to plan training around that knowledge. Ric has been
consistent in advocating multiple 15-30 min sessions at or a little below LT
for improving sustained power (like for climbing or TT) and ~5 min sessions
above LT for VO2max (for accelerations or shorter hills). These have been very
effective for me (20% increase in sustained power in 3 months) although very
taxing mentally (because it can REALLY hurt for most of the interval). (It's
also demonstrated the need for periodization to recover physically and mentally
from several weeks of very high intensity.)
Taking some CTS advice as well, I've tried varying my cadence in different
training blocks down to as low as 80 rpm one month and up over 95 rpm the next.
Doing 300W for 20 min in the low 80s rpm consistently results in a HR at least
10 bpm less than an interval in the high 90s rpm and is almost a pleasant experience
compared to 95+ rpm (which after a few minutes feels like being skinned alive).
What's the physiology behind these different cadences and how should varying
cadence best be used to improve performance (flats vs. rollers vs. hills)? If
power is power, why aren't we all pedaling at 80 rpm?
San Mateo, CA
Ric Stern replies:
I'm not sure that these are 'my' workouts, I can't take credit for them as
many sport scientists would advocate such a session based on the physiology
of certain goals (e.g., 1-hr TT). As an aside, these intervals are actually
performed at what I term "TT power", as LT is a much lower intensity. Within
the scientific literature, LT is generally referred to as a 1mmol/L increase
in lactate over exercise baseline level. Thus, the intensity of LT would be
something that could be sustained for a good few hours (depending on fitness
level) and is usually ~ 20 % below TT power.
As you've noted, they're very effective at raising power output, although
somewhat boring! Glad to see such a big improvement.
The reason that your HR is lower at a lower cadence at a fixed workload,
is that efficiency increases (perhaps paradoxically) at lower cadences versus
higher cadences (as you've noted). As the absolute power increases the most
efficient cadence increases (e.g., at 200 W it might be 50 revs/min, at 400
W it might be 80 revs/min).
Efficiency is a measure of the work done divided by the energy cost. To spin
faster (at a fixed workload) requires you to expend more energy (higher VO2)
as you are having to provide more energy to move your legs at a faster velocity.
As HR and VO2 are related the higher cost of faster spinning means a higher
Power is power, but it's often useful to ride/train at different cadences
as you'll encounter varying cadences under different conditions. Often when
cycling uphill, because velocity is low it can be difficult to pedal within
a normal range so some low cadence work is good. On the other hand during
a pan flat TT, some riders might find a moderate cadence (e.g., ~ 80 revs/min)
the most efficient and optimal. During (e.g.) road races, cadence needs to
be kept higher (e.g., ~80 to 105 revs/min) so that you can react to changes
in pace quickly (try accelerating in 53 x 12 to keep up with the bunch!).
Bottom line is that the most efficient cadence is quite low (and generally
lower than cyclists like to use), but the most optimal cadence is usually
a lot higher.
I was wondering if you could send me the reference for Ric Stern's phosphate
loading article, as I can't find dosages anywhere.
Is it in the Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, or the Canadian Journal
of Physiology and Pharmacology?
Ric Stern replies:
Good question about the phosphate and the journal! For some reason, I've
missed out the "applied" in the journal name on my website! Most remiss of
The actual amount of phosphate was 1000mg, four times a day using tribasic
dodecahydrate sodium phosphate (Na3PO4.12H2O).
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