General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Pedaling Circles Rss Feed  
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2012-01-12 9:05 AM

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Master
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Subject: Pedaling Circles

So, I was reading "Scientific Training for Triathletes" and came across the section on bicycling technique. It made the point that although traditional training and theory was to make sure you were "pedaling circles" their was no scientific backing for this improving performance. In fact, it made the point that most studies showed that stronger cyclists were stronger because they pushed harder on the downstroke.

Now, I can see how one legged drills might still be good to make sure you are using equal force with both legs, or something like that, but not for technique practice.

 

So, here are my questions:

Does anyone have any conflicting views that show pedaling circles is important?

Is there any data from powermeters, spinscans, etc that shows performance increases related to focusing on unweighting the pedal and lifting up?



2012-01-12 9:13 AM
in reply to: #3985877

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Champion
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
I believe I have heard that as your FTP goes up usually your spincast numbers go down (get worse) for same reason you mention about where force is applied to pedals.
2012-01-12 9:34 AM
in reply to: #3985877

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Champion
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles

I've never been on a bike that required pedaling in anything except circles...

2012-01-12 9:48 AM
in reply to: #3985877

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles

A smooth circular pedaling motion provides more even power throughout the cycle.  By pulling up on the opposite pedal you are switching muscle groups, and recruiting more of the leg muscles.

A smoother circular motion will also help you spin at a higher cadence. If you were to only push down at a high cadence, you body would bounce all over the seat. I see it all the time in the spin class I teach.

As far as stronger riders pushing harder on the downstroke and producing more power, I can see that. The downstroke is also using body mass and a large muscle group to produce the motion. The style of pedaling can vary with terrain as well. In a sprint or end of a flat TT pushing hard on the downstroke will provide the maximum amount of short burst power. If you were on a steep incline, the dead spot caused by the down stroke would cause a slight deceleration, and loss of speed.

2012-01-12 9:55 AM
in reply to: #3985877

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
eliwashere - 2012-01-12 11:05 AM

So, here are my questions:

Does anyone have any conflicting views that show pedaling circles is important?



Not that I have seen - there have been attempts but it always seems to boil down to just push harder.

Is there any data from powermeters, spinscans, etc that shows performance increases related to focusing on unweighting the pedal and lifting up?



No. Powermeters are not measuring the pedal forces and so cannot provide that information and spinscan is just a gimmick that has not been shown to relate to performance at all.

Shane
2012-01-12 10:05 AM
in reply to: #3986029

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
gsmacleod - 2012-01-12 11:55 PM
eliwashere - 2012-01-12 11:05 AM So, here are my questions:

Does anyone have any conflicting views that show pedaling circles is important?

Not that I have seen - there have been attempts but it always seems to boil down to just push harder.
Is there any data from powermeters, spinscans, etc that shows performance increases related to focusing on unweighting the pedal and lifting up?

No. Powermeters are not measuring the pedal forces and so cannot provide that information and spinscan is just a gimmick that has not been shown to relate to performance at all. Shane

What he said.

People may HAVE conflicting views that state pedaling circles is important, but there aren't any conclusive data to support them.



2012-01-12 10:42 AM
in reply to: #3985877

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Master
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles

I'm a believer in shall we say "pedal in semi-circles". I like the idea of powering a larger part of the circle.  Pushing into your toes on the top, powerful downstroke, scrape backward a bit on bottom, unweight the pedal on the upstroke.  Smoother than mashing the downstroke and ignoring the upstroke, but not trying to pedal in pure circles.  I've found this feels natural to me.

I don't believe in the pure circles approach.  It stands to reason that your legs are naturally going to be far stronger on the downstroke, so why not take advantage of that?  It seems anti-common-sense to artifically limit your downstroke power to match your upstroke power, in the name of circles. 

2012-01-12 10:50 AM
in reply to: #3985877

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles

You are correct.  There isn't any evidence for "pedaling in circles" improving cycling performance.  Go here: http://www.edb.utexas.edu/coyle/publications.php and look for paper 43.  This research paper on elite cyclists that shows they produce power predominately on the down stroke.  Less than 4% of the work load produced was on the upstroke during cycling. 

Single leg drills are still a good work out primarily for improving the symmetry of power output.  Most athletes are stronger on one side of their body.  Single leg drills help to even out the asymmetry in power output. 



Edited by zia_cyclist 2012-01-12 10:56 AM
2012-01-12 11:01 AM
in reply to: #3985877

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
I had read the theories and reasoning behind pedaling in circles, and then the subsequent studies that basically contradicted that so I've tried it both ways over the past couple of years or so.  I find that I do have more power when I focus more on a powerful downstroke.  I'm not a terribly high cadence rider (optimally I'm probably in the low 80s) and though I may be able to hit a bit higher cadence in a bit lower gear pedaling circles, I'm stronger in the higher gears when my quads are really hammering it on the down stroke.  For it to work though I need the good pull on the upstroke too or I end up mashing.  I have a road bike with clipon aerobars and when I'm in that position I feel I need to focus even more on a powerful downstroke compared to the drops and especially the hoods.
2012-01-12 11:05 AM
in reply to: #3986202

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
zia_cyclist - 2012-01-12 11:50 AM

Single leg drills are still a good work out primarily for improving the symmetry of power output.  Most athletes are stronger on one side of their body.  Single leg drills help to even out the asymmetry in power output. 

Is there any evidence that this is important?  Otherwise, I'd assume not.  It doesn't really matter if my right leg is 10% stronger than my left in propelling the bike.  And I'd seem to be better off raising them both than trying to get one to catch-up to the other for the sake of symmetry.

2012-01-12 11:17 AM
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
It seems to me that the upstroke is powered by the hammies (semitendonosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris).  These muscles are used extensively in this run, so wouldn't you want to put more of the burden into your quads (far stronger too) on the bike thus saving a bit on your thighs for the run?  (Ignore if this comment is stupid.)


2012-01-12 11:18 AM
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
Reply just to get my count # up to 100 Sealed
2012-01-12 11:24 AM
in reply to: #3986279

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles

Oysterboy - 2012-01-12 12:17 PM It seems to me that the upstroke is powered by the hammies (semitendonosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris).  These muscles are used extensively in this run, so wouldn't you want to put more of the burden into your quads (far stronger too) on the bike thus saving a bit on your thighs for the run?  (Ignore if this comment is stupid.)

There is no reason to do any pulling of the pedal on the upstroke.  It is highly inefficient.

2012-01-12 3:16 PM
in reply to: #3986281

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles

Oysterboy - 2012-01-12 11:18 AM Reply just to get my count # up to 100 Sealed

Glad you made it!

2012-01-12 3:18 PM
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
Thanks everyone for your feedback. 
2012-01-12 3:25 PM
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Subject: ...
This user's post has been ignored.


2012-01-12 5:37 PM
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles

It's not at all important to pull on the upstroke.

Therefore there is no real need for cages or clipless pedals.

None of the Tour-de-France winners, or Kona Winners or such bother with silly devices like clipless pedals that supposedly allow power transfer throughout the pedal stroke now do they?

2012-01-12 6:20 PM
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
faded_memories - 2012-01-12 7:37 PM

It's not at all important to pull on the upstroke.

Therefore there is no real need for cages or clipless pedals.

None of the Tour-de-France winners, or Kona Winners or such bother with silly devices like clipless pedals that supposedly allow power transfer throughout the pedal stroke now do they?



Perhaps there is another reason for a cycling shoe/pedal interface.

Shane
2012-01-12 6:47 PM
in reply to: #3987010

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
Fred D - 2012-01-12 4:25 PM
JohnnyKay - 2012-01-12 12:24 PM

Oysterboy - 2012-01-12 12:17 PM It seems to me that the upstroke is powered by the hammies (semitendonosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris).  These muscles are used extensively in this run, so wouldn't you want to put more of the burden into your quads (far stronger too) on the bike thus saving a bit on your thighs for the run?  (Ignore if this comment is stupid.)

There is no reason to do any pulling of the pedal on the upstroke.  It is highly inefficient.

Unless.......... You are using power cranks.

You are a bad person.

2012-01-12 11:11 PM
in reply to: #3985877

Master
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
For a surge of power I find that applying force on the upstroke is useful.  Maybe not so relevant for triathlon, but in group rides, sure.
2012-01-12 11:18 PM
in reply to: #3987010

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
Fred D - 2012-01-12 3:25 PM
JohnnyKay - 2012-01-12 12:24 PM

Oysterboy - 2012-01-12 12:17 PM It seems to me that the upstroke is powered by the hammies (semitendonosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris).  These muscles are used extensively in this run, so wouldn't you want to put more of the burden into your quads (far stronger too) on the bike thus saving a bit on your thighs for the run?  (Ignore if this comment is stupid.)

There is no reason to do any pulling of the pedal on the upstroke.  It is highly inefficient.

Unless.......... You are using power cranks.

I need to wash my hands and bleach the screen now...



2012-01-13 6:42 AM
in reply to: #3986242

Master
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
JohnnyKay - 2012-01-12 11:05 AM
zia_cyclist - 2012-01-12 11:50 AM

Single leg drills are still a good work out primarily for improving the symmetry of power output.  Most athletes are stronger on one side of their body.  Single leg drills help to even out the asymmetry in power output. 

Is there any evidence that this is important?  Otherwise, I'd assume not.  It doesn't really matter if my right leg is 10% stronger than my left in propelling the bike.  And I'd seem to be better off raising them both than trying to get one to catch-up to the other for the sake of symmetry.

It's not for the sake of symmetry.  It's for injury prevention.  Fredericson, et. al. (2000) found that weakness in hip muscles is a contributing factor to ITBS.  Some athletes develop ITBS during cycling; some during running.  I used single leg drills (along with functional strength training) to develop strength in the weaker leg and maybe prevent an injury.  This is also supported by an orthopedist, 2 sports chiropractors and a sports PT I work with.  

2012-01-13 6:48 AM
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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
Fred D - 2012-01-12 5:25 PM

Unless.......... You are using power cranks.


Somewhere Frank's spidey sense is tingling...

Shane
2012-01-13 1:55 PM
in reply to: #3987866

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Subject: RE: Pedaling Circles
zia_cyclist - 2012-01-13 7:42 AM
JohnnyKay - 2012-01-12 11:05 AM
zia_cyclist - 2012-01-12 11:50 AM

Single leg drills are still a good work out primarily for improving the symmetry of power output.  Most athletes are stronger on one side of their body.  Single leg drills help to even out the asymmetry in power output. 

Is there any evidence that this is important?  Otherwise, I'd assume not.  It doesn't really matter if my right leg is 10% stronger than my left in propelling the bike.  And I'd seem to be better off raising them both than trying to get one to catch-up to the other for the sake of symmetry.

It's not for the sake of symmetry.  It's for injury prevention.  Fredericson, et. al. (2000) found that weakness in hip muscles is a contributing factor to ITBS.  Some athletes develop ITBS during cycling; some during running.  I used single leg drills (along with functional strength training) to develop strength in the weaker leg and maybe prevent an injury.  This is also supported by an orthopedist, 2 sports chiropractors and a sports PT I work with.  

OK, that's reasonable.  I'd probably look at other ways to strengthen the hip muscles that are more direct.  But it probably can't hurt.

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