Tag Archives: swimming

Circles vs. Squares: What’s the best shape for a powerful cyclist?

If there was ever a good topic for an episode of Mythbusters, it would be this: should you pedal circles or pedal squares? We’ve been told that “pedaling circles” is important so that we can apply a smooth even pedal stroke. And word on the street is that this uniform application of power around the cranks is more efficient and makes a better rider.

We’ll lets mock up our own episode of Mythbusters. Let’s pretend that you are doing your thesis on power production in cycling (I did). And let’s also pretend that you are trying to get good data on good cyclists (this was my goal). In my research, I tapped into the best client database I could think of (the US Olympic Training Center). And lastly, let’s pretend that you could examine the pedal cycle of the entire national team, and developmental athletes (I could).  What would you find?

We’ll, this episode of Mythbusters would be pretty clear. World championship and Olympic medals have been won by riders who feature a smooth pedal cycle (circles) as well as cyclists who are mashers (squares). Uh oh. Don’t’ you hate it when real world data flies in the face of what you’ve been told. So where does this leave you?

Spin Scan Pedal Profile: Looking different doesn't mean one is better

Spin Scan Pedal Profile: Looking different doesn’t mean one is better

Its not to say that pedaling style is not important, because it is. In fact, research shows that elite cyclists have better pedaling mechanics than both recreationally competitive cyclists, and even elite triathletes. So if its not the “shape” of the application of power, what does better pedaling mean? Better cyclists have lots and lots of practice turning the pedals over. All this “practice” helps them produce the right amount of force from each muscle, without fighting, or co-contracting muscles during the pedaling cycle. They ride smoother and don’t fight their own pedal stroke. They also can change their pedaling cycle easily when they fatigue, in breaks, or up climbs. Having lots of “strategies” to tap into help as them adapt to the race conditions and terrain they are facing.

The take home:

▪   If you are a rider that has had success mashing your way along at 75 rpm, it doesn’t mean that you must learn to spin at 110 rpm just because someone else does.

▪   Pedaling technique is a variable that better cyclists adjust based on terrain, fatigue, and surface. It is still worthwhile to learn proper pedaling strategies. If you do want to improve your spin, the most beneficial cues are to “scrape mud” off the bottom of your shoe at the bottom of the stroke, and to “kick a ball” at the top of the pedal stroke.

▪   Traction matters. In general mountain bikers have a smoother pedal stroke to maintain traction. If they put all their power around a small part of the pedal cycle their tires spin out.  If you spend time on dirt, emphasize smooth power to keep your tires hooking up  – especially on the climbs.

▪   Better cyclists don’t necessarily pedal circles or squares. They just pedal better circles and better squares – stop reading and go for a ride!

 

 

Spin Scan Pedal Profile: Looking different doesn't mean one is better

Spin Scan Pedal Profile: Looking different doesn’t mean one is better

The MOST important single sentence you’ll ever read about training

I won’t keep you in suspense, here it is:

Instead of getting caught up in the latest fads, always make sure each workout is contributing to your long term goals.

I was in the airport yesterday and starring at the news stand. Every single issue has some variation of “the 5 workouts you must do this month” plastered across the cover. There are lots of great workouts out there, but only you can identify who you want to be.

Its pretty easy to work backwards. Define your goal, and ensure that each day’s heart beats, muscle contractions, nutrition intake, and rest schedules are target focused on that goal. Because we both want the same thing: for you to be able to cross your next challenge off your list.

The Bat-signal has been lit: time for a PARTY!

 

Want to see what we are up to @ Rebound? Come grab a beer, some eats, and join us for our open house this Thursday! (superhero dress optional)

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Pace Maker: an interview with Today in PT

Today in PT is a magazine for the physical therapy profession. They wrote:

Americans are increasingly on the run, with Running USA’s 2012 State of the Sport report counting nearly 39 million runners. Runners spend nearly $2.5 billion annually on footwear, according to the report. But, unfortunately, new shoes don’t come with accurate information and proper training to safely and successfully pursue the activity. For that, Today in PT turned to Jay Dicharry, PT, MPT, SCS, author of “Anatomy for Runners: Unlocking Your Athletic Potential for Health, Speed, and Injury Prevention.” click here for the rest

They threw out 10 questions, and i threw out 10 answers. Check out the link if you’d like to see some of the reasons why i do what I do, a few lines on the book, and why i got into this aspect of athletic injury care in the first place.

 

Do you treat triathletes? Join me @ U of Michigan

Multisport athletes have a lot of challenges in their training,  but the training demands of 3 sports seem to creep up on all of us. Athletes spend so much time trying to fit in their volume that the body often gets ignored.

Well, this all ends now. Join me at the University of Michigan April 20-21st where we discuss “Putting the Athlete in Triathlete: a clinician’s role in endurance sports.” During this 13 hrs course, we’ll lay the ground work and discuss how endurance training impacts the tissues of the body, and then move on to detailed descriptions of the mechanics of each sport. You’ll learn how to correlate your musculoskeletal evaluation of the body with a runner’s swim, bike, and running performance. We’ll discuss why swimmers aren’t your typical overhead athletes, you’ll learn how to do bike fits (how to fit the bike to the rider, and more importantly how to fit the rider to the bike) with hands on practice, learn how to identify common gait patterns and cue them out of problems that overload the body, and understand the role of complimentary training and strengthening. At the end of the weekend, you’ll understand how to help your athletes make training easier on their body, and improve their efficiency.

for registration information, click here, and for a hourly breakdown of the course, click here. See you there!

Christmas gifts for the athlete you love (or yourself!)

So we are officially past one of the coolest days ever (12-12-12) and now 11 days away from when the man in the red suit flops down your chimney to bring joy to all the good little boys and girls. Those of you much better than I are likely done your Christmas shopping. But if you are like me, and still haven’t picked out any presents for your wife (or other person you care about), I’d like to offer a few suggestions. If someone you love is looking for an edge, wants to improve their skills, and is looking to blow their inner athlete wide open – then look no further……

#1 – Rocker Board.
20121214-101308.jpgYou’ll notice a common theme here. All of the tools (toys) listed here are designed to help you improve balance and proprioception. These skills carry over in spades to all your athletic persuits: running, cycling, skiing, surfing, climbing, kiteboarding, football, basketball, tennis,  and possibly even bowling. Rocker boards are a great tool to teach you how to stabilize your foot and ankle. Hard unstable surfaces provide an optimal training environment to improve you. You should look for a board that only rocks in one direction (thus the name rocker board). Many folks also make boards that wobble and spin in all directions (called wobble boards). Both have their place, but when it comes to training the foot and lower leg, I’m a big fan of the former. These are sold in many places. If you are looking for suggestions, I typically direct people over to sportssmith.net because they have the cheapest one I’ve found: $29.99.

#2: Surfing in your living room – meet the Si-Board.

20121214-101324.jpgSo you’ve mastered basic balance skills, and are looking to quite possibly have as much fun as possible while under your roof? Look no further than the Si-Board. Sure the Indo Board is cool, but this thing is in a class by itself. I have one and absolutely love it. Its so much fun! Its not one of those things you’ll say “oh I have to make time to work on my balance……” Its so engaging that you may find yourself taking time away from other things! Your feet and hip stabilizers will get a workout like nothing else. They are pretty $$$$. I bought the DIY creator kit for cheap, and in 45 min was “surfing” in my living room.  In my mind, if you are an athlete, you should have one of these. Period.

#3: Surfing down the pavement –> Longboard.

20121214-101339.jpgPresents are all about fun right? Buying a long board was one of the best decisions I made. Its not like hucking off the loading docks like we all did when we were 12. This is all about the flow. It’s great to carve slalom turns down the hill – almost as much fun as skiing or snowboarding. And once you learn to “pump it” you can fly. I can roll miles down the road without pushing at all. I guess some people might say its a great workout, but its so much fun I’d do it even if balance skills didn’t translate into other sports. What board to get? wow – there are hundreds of options out there. Personally, I’ve got a Original Pintail 40. I bought it because it has springs instead of bushings. This makes it easy to rail turns at low speed and a bit tougher to control at high speeds, but lets’ face it: Most of us aren’t looking to hit 50 mph down a mountain while slamming a RedBull.  Only warning I’d offer is this: you may find yourself longboarding more and doing your typical sport a bit less!

#4: a book? Maybe a book called Anatomy for Runners! Its by far the cheapest thing on this list, and quite possibly the most valuable. I’ve spent many years of my life teaching. I’ve taught at UVA and continue to teach around the US. You’ll be surprised what people are capable of when you give them the knowledge to succeed. That was the goal behind my book. Its a way to give you information to help you hit your goals this season and beyond. Sure its slanted towards runners, but about 80% of the information in there applies to other endurance and strength and power sports as well.

If you are looking at the equipment above and thinking “that’s a bit high level for me-  no way”……let’s put something out there. Blowing past your comfort zone is the only way you’ll ever make jumps to the next level in your performance. And yes, I’ve put “old folks” on these with tons of success. Sure you should be careful when you are learning, but I will caution you that liberal use of #2 and 3 above just might result in fun!

Disclaimer for the people who think I’m funding my retirement with these recommendations. I personally bought the Si-board starter kit and my Original Longboard (in fact I bought a second one too!), and my clinic purchased the rocker board form Sports Smith. These folks have no idea that I am writing this, and I’m getting absolutely nothing in return.

Well, with the legal mumbo jumbo out of the way, Happy Shopping, and Happy Holidaze!!!

And if you’d like to re-live a little Christmas story from last year, check out how Climate change is impacting reindeer training.