GREG COMBS: Crank it Up: Training Device Improves Cyclist's Performance
When I meet a new friend on the road I usually start a conversation about the typical topics, things like, "Nice bike, where did you get it? How far are you riding?"
However, my analytical cycling warped mind somehow tends to drive the conversation toward cycling efficiency, performance, comfort and longevity. Recently, I met a guy while I was beginning my first interval session for the season while riding Power Cranks. My new friend interrupted my "How you doing?" with "What the heck are those things?"
So, I went into my analytical description about Power Cranks and their benefits. I told him that Power Cranks have a one-way clutch in each crank-arm. The Power Cranks are much different from the typical crank-arm, from being fixed to each other at 180 degrees to being totally independent. I explained that each leg can drive the bicycle, but one leg cannot help the other leg. The Power Cranks compel the cyclist to use all the muscles of the legs and core muscles in a synergistic manner.
The benefits of using Power Cranks are numerous.
One major benefit is they fully train the hip flexors and hamstring muscles. They also assist in neuromuscular changes that improve form and efficiency in cycling. Another benefit of the Power Cranks is they reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury by aiding in balancing the muscle capabilities and improving coordination in leg muscles, while at the same time requiring the cyclist to engage the core muscle groups.
The greatest benefit of Power Cranks is that cyclists report an overall increase in performance because twice as many muscles are exercised.
Many studies have been published about Power Cranks increasing the athlete's performance. One such study by Stephen J. Dixon from the University of New Brunswick showed the following improvements over an 18-month period: a 17 percent increase in VO2 max, a 20 percent increase in VO2 max/kg, an 11 percent increase in max power, a 39 percent increase in functional threshold power (1 hour) power and a 23 percent increase in long term sustainable power. Another study supports these findings presented at the 2006 Canadian Society of Exercise Physiologists annual meeting that showed an 11 percent increase in power and a 15 percent increase in VO2max in only six weeks of immersion training with Power Cranks.
I explained to my new cycling companion that the results may differ from athlete to athlete. However, everyone will notice an improvement in performance regardless.
Dr. Frank Day, the inventor of Power Cranks, explains on his Web site why there is such an improvement in cycling performance in a very basic but logical manner.
"As children, we learn how to pedal our tricycles and bicycles by pushing on the down stroke and just relaxing on the upstroke," Day claims. "Since we were not attached to the pedals, even if we wanted to go fast, we learned we had to always keep a little back pressure on the pedals on the back stroke so we would always be in contact with the pedal, ready to apply power as soon as the pedal came over the top. As we grew older, we learned to push harder on the down stroke but we could not reduce the back pressure on the upstroke any more or we would lose contact with the pedal.
"So, we all learned in order to go faster all we could do was train to push harder. Once this coordination was ingrained it is pretty much impossible to undo without proper feedback. The reality is that, without Power Cranks training, we have all pretty much ignored half of the muscles in the legs. While the form we learned as children as to how to go fast on the bicycle might have been optimum when we were not attached to the pedals, this form is not optimum for adults wanting to maximize performance once we become attached to the pedals.
"The problem comes in figuring out how to undo these less than optimum habits that are ingrained into the nervous system after 10 to 20 years of doing it 'wrong.' Fortunately, now there is Power Cranks and Power Cranks ensure you will make this change if you will put in the time on them."
In the coming weeks, I will write about other ways to improve your performance on the bike.
My motivation for writing these types of articles is that I am just tired of learning about professional athletes getting caught talking performance-enhancing drugs or being accused of cheating to increase their athletic performance. There are so many ways to improve your performance and at the same time "take the high ground." For more information about Power Cranks, visit www.powercranks.com or contact me. I have a demo set and if you like them, I can get you a discount.
Greg Combs is a cyclist and coach for more than 30 years and is considered an expert in bicycling fit and rider positioning. He is also the director of the Sport Management Program at Methodist University. For more information browse www.velosmart.com or e-mail him at email@example.com.
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