Abs on the UP, Glutes on the DOWN

I had the opportunity to go on my 1st mountain bike ride of the season last Sunday morning. Yes, I am aware it is JUNE, but the snow has finally melted (we had over 7 FEET at arapahoe Basin in May) and you need to understand that I am usually a runner). In the cool morning 44 degree air I was reminded of the importance of my gluteal muscles (rather than just my quads) while climbing a technical hill which was clearly pushing my aerobic capacity. We have the opportunity to perform many bike fits in the office and treat many cycling ailments. We also train and retraing pedal stroke and one of our mantras (in addition to skill, endurance and strength) is “Glutes on the downstroke; Abs on the upstroke”. Meaning use your glutes to extend the hip from 12 to 6 o’clock and use your abs to initiate the upstroke. Quadricep (on the downtstroke) and hamstring dominance (on the upstroke) is something we see often and this mantra often proves useful in the “retraining process”.

I have been a fan of Ed Burkes work (“Serious Cycling” and “Competitive Cycling”) for years and have read (and lectured about) these books many times. In my effort to find a basis in the literature for my mantra, I ran across a paper (1) that seemed to substantiate, at least in part, the mantra. It is a small study looked at elite athletes that explores changes that occur in muscle recruitment as the body fatigues after a sub maximal exercise session.

Their conclusion “The large increases in activity for gluteus maximus and biceps femoris, which are in accordance with the increase in force production during the propulsive phase, could be considered as instinctive coordination strategies that compensate for potential fatigue and loss of force of the knee extensors (i.e., vastus lateralis and vastus medialis) by a higher moment of the hip extensors.”

This makes sense, although may be contradicted by this study (2), which showed LESS gluteal activity at higher mechanical efficiency, with increased tricep surae activity. They conclude “These findings imply that cycling at 55%-60% V˙O(2max) will maximize the rider’s exposure to high efficient muscle coordination and kinematics.”  Although this study looks at mechanical efficiency and the 1st lloks at muscle activity.

Being seated on a bike and having your torso, as well as hips flexed is not the most mechanically efficient posture for driving the glutes, but clinical observation seems to dictate that the less quad and hamstring dominant people are on the down and up stroke respectively, then the more pain free they are. This does not always equte to being the fastest, but it does equate to fewer injuries showing up in the office.

  1. Dorel S1, Drouet JM, Couturier A, Champoux Y, Hug F. Changes of pedaling technique and muscle coordination during an exhaustive exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Jun;41(6):1277-86. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31819825f8.
  2. Blake OM1, Champoux Y, Wakeling JM.  Muscle coordination patterns for efficient cycling. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 May;44(5):926-38. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182404d4b.

Using music in your training is smart. We have been saying this for over a year in some of our blog articles regarding music and dance and incorporating some of the advantages of brain development and music. Today we have more research to prove our point. In The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness (link) British researchers concluded that “exercise is more efficient when performed synchronously with music than when musical tempo is slightly slower than the rate of cyclical movement.” Scott Douglas summarized the study nicely:
    The study had cyclists pedal at 65 revolutions per minute (i.e., 130 pedal strokes per minute) while working at 70% of their aerobic max, which in running terms would be between recovery pace and half marathon pace. The cyclists listened to music at three tempi:faster than their pedal rate (137 beats per minute),synced with their pedal rate (130 beats per minute)and slower than their pedal rate (123 beats per minute).Although the cyclists rated their perceived effort the same in the three conditions, their oxygen cost was greater when they pedaled along to music that was slower than they were riding. Their heart rates were also slightly higher when listening to the slowest of the three music speeds.
Anyone who has frequently run with music knows how a peppy tune can jump start things. This study suggests you’re asking to work a little harder if your playlist includes songs slower than your turnover, which for running purposes ideally means around 170 or more beats per minute.In one of our favorite Gait Guys blog posts on June 7th, (here is the link)we mentioned some other great benefits of strategically using music to further your training:
Music provides timing. Music taps into fundamental systems in our brains that are sensitive to melody and beat. And when you are learning a task, timing can access part of the brain to either make it easier, easier to remember, or engrain the learned behavior deeper. When you add music to anything you are exercising other parts of your brain with that task. It is nothing new in the world of music and brain research when it comes to proving that music expands areas of learning and development in the brain. As Dr. Charles Limb, associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University states “It (music) allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music.”Several weeks ago we asked you as an athlete, and this pertains to runners and even those walking, to add music to your training. If you are walking, vary the songs in your ipod to express variations in tempo. Use those tempo changes to change your cadence. If you are a runner, once in awhile add ipod training to your workouts and do the same. Your next fartlek (a system of training for distance runners in which the terrain and pace are varied to enhance conditioning) might be a new experience. Perhaps an enjoyable one. Trust us, we have done it. Here at The Gait Guys, with our backgrounds in neurology and biomechanics amongst other things, we are always looking for new ways to learn and to incorporate other areas of brain challenge to our clients. To build a better athlete you have to use training ideas that are often outside the box.Remember what Dr. Charles Limb said,
“It (music) allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music.”
It is nice to see more studies on music. All to often we use music for pleasure, but here we once again show that it can be a useful training tool if you are paying attention and thinking outside of the iPod. Shawn and Ivo, The Gait Guys ……… music lovers as well.

Run and Bike Training using Music and Cadence.

Format LinkPosted on Categories Running, Running Technique, Running/Gait, Sports MedicineTags , , , , , 1 Comment on Using music in your training is smart. We have been saying this for over a year in some of our blog articles regarding music and dance and incorporating some of the advantages of brain development and music. Today we have more research to prove our point. In The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness (link) British researchers concluded that “exercise is more efficient when performed synchronously with music than when musical tempo is slightly slower than the rate of cyclical movement.” Scott Douglas summarized the study nicely:
    The study had cyclists pedal at 65 revolutions per minute (i.e., 130 pedal strokes per minute) while working at 70% of their aerobic max, which in running terms would be between recovery pace and half marathon pace. The cyclists listened to music at three tempi:faster than their pedal rate (137 beats per minute),synced with their pedal rate (130 beats per minute)and slower than their pedal rate (123 beats per minute).Although the cyclists rated their perceived effort the same in the three conditions, their oxygen cost was greater when they pedaled along to music that was slower than they were riding. Their heart rates were also slightly higher when listening to the slowest of the three music speeds.
Anyone who has frequently run with music knows how a peppy tune can jump start things. This study suggests you’re asking to work a little harder if your playlist includes songs slower than your turnover, which for running purposes ideally means around 170 or more beats per minute.In one of our favorite Gait Guys blog posts on June 7th, (here is the link)we mentioned some other great benefits of strategically using music to further your training:
Music provides timing. Music taps into fundamental systems in our brains that are sensitive to melody and beat. And when you are learning a task, timing can access part of the brain to either make it easier, easier to remember, or engrain the learned behavior deeper. When you add music to anything you are exercising other parts of your brain with that task. It is nothing new in the world of music and brain research when it comes to proving that music expands areas of learning and development in the brain. As Dr. Charles Limb, associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University states “It (music) allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music.”Several weeks ago we asked you as an athlete, and this pertains to runners and even those walking, to add music to your training. If you are walking, vary the songs in your ipod to express variations in tempo. Use those tempo changes to change your cadence. If you are a runner, once in awhile add ipod training to your workouts and do the same. Your next fartlek (a system of training for distance runners in which the terrain and pace are varied to enhance conditioning) might be a new experience. Perhaps an enjoyable one. Trust us, we have done it. Here at The Gait Guys, with our backgrounds in neurology and biomechanics amongst other things, we are always looking for new ways to learn and to incorporate other areas of brain challenge to our clients. To build a better athlete you have to use training ideas that are often outside the box.Remember what Dr. Charles Limb said,
“It (music) allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music.”
It is nice to see more studies on music. All to often we use music for pleasure, but here we once again show that it can be a useful training tool if you are paying attention and thinking outside of the iPod. Shawn and Ivo, The Gait Guys ……… music lovers as well.