QUIZ: Hip, Thigh, Shank Muscle Activity during the Pedal Cycle

@Christine-B Do cadence drills and when you start to bounce in the saddle, sweet talk the recalcitrant muscles: “My dear Semimembranosus, I know you can relax faster and let Rectus Femoris have the pedal all to himself.”


@Christine-B … well I definitely like @AkaPete suggestion! The recovery phase is super interesting- although I commonly hear to pull up on the pedal, the data on elite and professional cyclists demonstrate that they are not producing an upward force- instead they are actually allowing that leg to recover in preparation for the next power phase.

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Producing the ideal pedal stroke is tricky- the links between technique and performance are still poorly understood despite the large amount of research in the last 20 years. One reason is that there is redundancy in the musculoskeletal system- the same power output can be achieved using different joint torque combinations at the hip, knee, ankle, and upper limbs.

Here are a few bullet points from recent literature:

Importance of Practice, Time in the Saddle

  • EMG patterns, as well as kinematic patterns, are less variable and more consistent across power and recovery cycles in elite compared to novice cyclists, showing that the variability of muscle coordination could be an indicator of expertise
  • positive correlation between the level of practice and the proportion of positive effective torques
  • negative correlation between the level of practice and the magnitude of the negative effective torques
  • elite cyclists generate more positive effective torques during the power phase and less pull on the pedal during the recovery phase to limit negative effective torques

Importance of Core Strength and Endurance:

  • crucial for efficiently transferring power upper to lower body
  • allows maintenance of proper body positioning and form with fatigue, which translates to maintaining speed and power for longer periods of time
  • decrease injury risk because of increased movement efficiency