Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

looseleftie
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Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby looseleftie » Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:02 am

Hi guys,
I have been working at improving my hill climbing, and have looked at any small gains/improvements I can make to my riding.. Of late, I have begun looking at my pedaling stroke.. I have only been cycling close to 2 yrs, loving it, and improving, yet have come across the "correct pedaling stroke" on You Tube.. Mmmmm, I had never thought about it...

My question really is that does dragging that foot back and lifting make a "actual" performance benefit to ones cycling?
Has this ever been scientifically proven of any significant, or minor benefits?

I just try and flog myself out there, without thinking of pedaling technique..

Also when might you consider using the slide your foot like u were scraping off mud technique? Flats, small hills, or both? Is it when u are spinning high cadence?
Love any advice.
Cheers

g-boaf
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby g-boaf » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:35 am

There are some diagrams here: https://practicaltriathlon.wordpress.co ... al-stroke/

I thought I saw someone post on here a while back something similar to that. :? I cannot give you any further advice.

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Alex Simmons/RST
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:47 am

A lot of the pedalling technique stuff we read about is a load of belief-based nonsense. In some instances entire businesses are built on such interventions (chain ring shapes, independent clutched cranks, pedals that move along the crank axis and so on) despite there being very little evidential support. There have been a few studies that examined what happens when cyclists are required to modify their pedal "technique" and they don't exactly support such notions as being of performance benefit.

The other issue is that what people think they are doing when pedalling is rarely what they are actually doing. In order to really know, it requires independent pedal force measurement, something that's beginning to emerge in newer power meter offerings (although not to the standard of purpose built laboratory systems) but which come with little real evidence based support on how to actually interpret such information, let alone consider it actionable intelligence.

First of all, in order of priority:
1. Get a decent bike fit (all facets).
2. Then train well in a manner to improve fitness and power output.
3. Then perhaps even race (in the sense that it will naturally force you to adopt/learn effective ways to use the power you have and use gears appropriately).
These are way more important than faffing about with pedalling technique.

There are very few people in the world that properly study this stuff, and the ones that know what they are doing (and aren't selling something) typically find that tinkering with a rider's natural method makes little difference to performance, and often degrades it.

Jim Martin (an acknowledge world expert in the field) did a nice summary of pedalling technique myths a few years back:
http://wattagetraining.com/files/JMarti ... hnique.pdf

That's not to say that more research ahead won't uncover some interesting uses of pedal force data and ways to eek out half a percent here or there but the effect sizes are going to be pretty small (else they'd have stuck out as obvious by now) and individual, which is the case for many types of training interventions that are peripheral to the mode of exercise.

With that said I'm sure the anecdotes will start flooding in.

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Derny Driver
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby Derny Driver » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:17 am

Great post Alex. That should be the end of this thread.

Perhaps we could now discuss the merit or otherwise of
"I just try and flog myself out there"

looseleftie
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby looseleftie » Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:46 pm

Thanks guys , in particular Alex for such a time labouring and thoughtful response..

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby am50em » Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:34 pm

You could just try some of the techniques. Do they get you up the hills faster?

softy
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby softy » Tue Mar 08, 2016 11:44 pm

From my research and application (ancedotal) is that keep a cadence of around 90 to 105 to climb, don't attack the hill flat out, use a consistent power/cadence you can maintain up the hill so you can start to click up and accelerate over the crest.

A power meter is a great pacing tool (probably the thing you are looking for) but still super expensive.

just my 2 cents input.

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby g-boaf » Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:08 am

softy wrote:From my research and application (ancedotal) is that keep a cadence of around 90 to 105 to climb, don't attack the hill flat out, use a consistent power/cadence you can maintain up the hill so you can start to click up and accelerate over the crest.

A power meter is a great pacing tool (probably the thing you are looking for) but still super expensive.

just my 2 cents input.


What did people do before power meters? Only one of my bikes has one, and it isn't very reliable. And as DD says after this post, what have they got to do with the way you pedal.
Last edited by g-boaf on Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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kb
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby kb » Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:53 am

g-boaf wrote:
softy wrote:From my research and application (ancedotal) is that keep a cadence of around 90 to 105 to climb, don't attack the hill flat out, use a consistent power/cadence you can maintain up the hill so you can start to click up and accelerate over the crest.

A power meter is a great pacing tool (probably the thing you are looking for) but still super expensive.

just my 2 cents input.


What did people do before power meters? Only one of my bikes has one, and it isn't very reliable.

They rode without them? ;-)

I'm sure it depends on the person. Some are natural good at listening to their body and judging pacing, some are educable, others (I suspect I fall more into this group :-)) are just lacking there.
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby Derny Driver » Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:09 am

Power meters correct poor pedalling stroke now?
wow

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kb
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby kb » Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:21 am

Derny Driver wrote:Power meters correct poor pedalling stroke now?
wow

Pacing. As in text above. Thread drift is not uncommon on these forums...

That said, according to marketing they do. (Spin scan?)
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g-boaf
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby g-boaf » Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:28 am

As for trying to flog yourself on a bike, why not just try and destroy yourself once in a while. I do it sometimes. If nothing else it's good fun. If it's wrong and not technically or scientifically correct, who cares?

As for spin scan, it's just another number among many. Apparently mine is sometimes around 70 average. Without having the number on a screen in front of you, how would you know the difference between 50 and 70? I don't think it makes much of a difference.

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby kb » Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:42 am

No idea and never used it :-). Not saying it's useful at all, just not a new idea.

I can add that I personally don't find torque effectiveness or pedal smoothness particularly actionable either. Standing vs seated is occasionally interesting just to compare the numbers against perception but again, I wouldn't go as far as to say necessarily useful.
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby Derny Driver » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:12 am

kb wrote:Thread drift is not uncommon on these forums...


Yep, every thread drifts into a discussion on powermeters ...

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby mikesbytes » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:06 pm

looseleftie wrote:My question really is that does dragging that foot back and lifting make a "actual" performance benefit to ones cycling?
Has this ever been scientifically proven of any significant, or minor benefits?


What they are probably referring to using the Flexors and not just the Extendors. There's not a simple answer to this, most of the time its not of concern but not always.

They say Extendors are more efficient at delivering power over the Flexors and if that is the case then delivering the bulk of the power thru the Extendors makes sense and they are stronger muscles anyway. If you are in a situation where you need to maximum power thru the pedals, then it makes sense that more muscle can provide more power for a short period of time that is.

There is also the case of stabilisation. Typically we are told to lock on our core to stabilise our pelvis but the flexors of one leg will also contribute as their action is the opposite of the other leg.

Let me know if this is where you were thinking and we can discuss further
If the R-1 rule is broken, what happens to N+1?

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Wed Mar 09, 2016 2:32 pm

kb wrote:
Derny Driver wrote:Power meters correct poor pedalling stroke now?
wow

Pacing. As in text above. Thread drift is not uncommon on these forums...

That said, according to marketing they do. (Spin scan?)

Hence refer my first post.

Spin scan and other intra crank revolution power measurement variants like the charts from a Wattbike are not going to be able to provide the data for such analysis because they are limited to reporting net data downstream of the bottom bracket. IOW they can only ever report data that is the combined forces or torque or power from both cranks (legs) combined. e.g. when they report 100 units of force/torque/power at any instant of a pedal stroke, that's a net value from both cranks (legs). What they can never tell you is whether that's because one leg is generating 100 units while the other is zero, or whether one is generating 80 while the other contributes 20, or whether one is generating 120 while the other is contributing -20. Alone that should give you some idea of how misleading such information can be.

Some newer meters are available that have the potential to provide such independent crank or pedal data, however such information is not available via your regular ANT+ bike computer or .fit files. The temporal resolution is not up to it. It's a solution that requires proprietary hard/soft/firmware.

And even if it were available, what then?

Another example at the simplest level is many power meters provide "power balance" data, which purports to tell you the proportion of power generated by each leg. However the very measurement itself depends on how it is measured. It's quite possible for two power meters (e.g. say a Quarq and a pair of Garmin Vectors) to be perfectly accurate in reporting power, but for one to report right leg dominance while the other says you are left leg dominant. What gives? It's only until you begin to pull apart the data and understand how these numbers are generated that you begin to realise their limitations. And that's before recognising that asymmetry is normal and not something typically requiring "correction".

Essentially, to "correct" a pedal stroke, you have to know what exactly needs correction and why, and what one should be correcting it to and how. Anyone who thinks they can answer those questions and has not actually measured these things with laboratory grade instrumented pedals is kidding themselves.

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby looseleftie » Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:34 pm

Hey am50em, I actually do ok up hills (well for me at least).. I just need to test myself with pushing that bit harder from time to time and get the speed up, which over last month is starting to happen..In fact the biggest difference is when I am beginning climbs, I use a higher gear, and try to maintain it for as long as possible whilst being comfortable.. If I can't drop one gear and keep working hard, rather than dropping into lowest gear from the very start of the climb... This has really helped!

This is why I was asking about pedal technique, and whether it makes a quantitative difference at all? Looking for any assistance, whilst my fitness/strength improve as I continue with cycling.

re power meter, sounds like a useful training tool, just too expensive at least at the moment..

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby am50em » Wed Mar 09, 2016 8:43 pm

Hello looseleftie,

given I weigh 100Kg my climbing is not the fastest but the area I live in means hill climbing wherever I go and I would like to be faster as well :D

some good points raised in this thread:
    * bike fit
    * core strength
    * pacing (could use power meter or heart rate monitor - though with heart rate it can vary depending on how you are on the day)
    * going hard (it just hurts to climb fast)

I have had a bike fit, continue to work on my core strength, use heart rate and power to pace the climbs and sometimes just hurt on the climbs.

I often work on getting my pedalling action smooth and try to unweight the rising leg.
I find for me, my power level is up for same level of exertion (perceived and heart rate).
Not scientific proof but I think it helps me so I continue to try and make my default action. At present it needs conscious thought to get the action.

Which is why I suggest trying it - it may help you or it may not. Will take some time to adapt to any new technique.
Cheers.

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:06 am

Somewhat serendipitously, this old image popped up in my facebook feed today:

Image

It's a snapshot from a spinscan and shows each side's power output segmented into 15 degree increments from the top of pedal stroke to the bottom.

It suggests a rather bizarre pedal stroke (an unlikely evenness on the left) and left side dominance, which is pretty funny for a left trans-tibial amputee. This is in no way a reflection of how I was actually pedalling and is nothing more than a bit of light comic relief. You certainly would not want to be making training interventions on the basis of such data.

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby mikesbytes » Thu Mar 10, 2016 2:28 pm

Accuracy of the equipment
If the R-1 rule is broken, what happens to N+1?

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Thu Mar 10, 2016 8:29 pm

mikesbytes wrote:Accuracy of the equipment

It could be perfectly accurate, but also completely misleading. It's a matter of recognising the limitations of such information due to the nature of how it is generated. Unfortunately it is marketed as having value far beyond its true worth (which isn't much).

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby mikesbytes » Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:05 pm

Some of the indoor bikes I instruct on have highly inaccurate electronics and the participants still love them. I suggest that if possible they ride on the same bike each time, so to improve the consistency of the numbers, even though they may be way off (but don't tell them that, cos that would be slagging my employer). [for the record there are others that are fairly good]

That's the reality, people luv info regardless of whether its actually useful or not, so I don't blame that company for generating that pretty graph.
If the R-1 rule is broken, what happens to N+1?

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby softy » Fri Mar 11, 2016 12:07 am

We can all talk about thread drift, but if you change your pedal technique, how are you going to measure the difference?

The only thing that will tell you, if you are putting out more power is a powe meter. Is this not the goal?

Is you are serious about monitoring power, unfortunately a power meter is a must, otherwise how do you know if changing your pedal technique is actually doing anything.

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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby kb » Fri Mar 11, 2016 6:22 am

softy wrote:The only thing that will tell you, if you are putting out more power is a powe meter. Is this not the goal?

I'm going to say "sometimes" :-)

Perhaps the goal is to reduce tension or too much work in less suitable (more easily fatigued) muscle groups.
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Re: Pedaling technique?!? Is it scientifically proven?

Postby eeksll » Sun May 15, 2016 9:54 am

Alex Simmons/RST wrote:Somewhat serendipitously, this old image popped up in my facebook feed today: ...


nothing serendipitous about it, facebook/google/... are literally that "good" at it :|

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