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Glute Activation Test for Athletes

THE ULTIMATE GLUTE ACTIVATION TEST: The knee limited single leg squat.

This simple test (video below) identifies compensation patterns and the participant's ability to overcome them.  This is a great test for anyone participating in sports or activities that require single leg power and control (running, cycling, basketball, football, soccer, raquet sports, climbing, etc).  I initially created this test to evaluate my progress towards reducing quad dominance, but I discovered that it can also reveal activation abnormalities in the deep hip rotators and core.  Since it does not require normal ankle mobility (dorsiflexion) or normal hip mobility (flexion), it's a great way to dissect your squat form and reveal imbalances that might have gone unnoticed.

Head, torso, knee does not touch the foam roller.Hip, knee and ankle maintains anatomical alignment throughout the entire movement.Thoracic spine remains neutral.Scapula remains in neutral position.Trunk maintains for…
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A Targeted Approach to Hamstring Stretching

The hamstrings are made up of four muscles.  Depending on the way we stand and move, one or more of these muscles can become overly tight.  In a standard hamstring stretch, this one particularly tight hamstring muscle might not get the attention it needs because all four muscles will share the stretch.  The stretches below will show you how to isolate the stretch on each group, and shift the hamstring stretch further away from the knee.

The four muscles of the hamstrings involves the bicep femoris (short head), bicep femoris (long head), semimembranosus and semitendinosus.  The bicep femoris group is located laterally while the semi's are located medially.  Knowing the anatomy and general location of the muscles is key to knowing whether you've focused the stretch where it matters.

We'll get more specific below, but in the meantime, here's a brief rundown of the stretches.  Notice how the foot is positioned relative…

Ratings of Perceived Activation (RPA Scale)

I would like to introduce my method for measuring muscle activation, a Ratings of Perceived Activation Scale.  I developed this chart to help manage problematic areas that need to be addressed.  It also helps my clients provide feedback regarding their ability to consciously activate certain muscle groups.

By assigning a number to a client's muscle activation, a map of their muscle activation can be made. This makes it easier to focus on establishing muscle activation in areas that need it the most.

Example Client:  Cyclist complaining of quadricep fatigue, difficulty breathing, knee and lower back pain.

RPA Map: Quadriceps: 10 Gluteus Maximus: 3 Rectus Abdominis: 10 Pectoralis Major: 8Middle trap/ Rhomboid: 4Back extensors: 5 A quad dominant pedal stroke stresses the patellar tendon.  By working on muscle activation protocols to increase glute activation specifically for the bike, knee pain diminishes.  Increasing back extensor activation helps the cyclist maintain an anterior pe…

Pro Cycling Crank Length List

I compiled a list of pro cyclists and the crank lengths they used on their road bikes in 2016.  Although I couldn't find information for their TT or Track bikes (if applicable), it's evident in the Tour De France that Chris Froome used a shorter crank for his time trial bike.  In fact, much of Team Sky used different crank lengths to suit the event (Short=TT, Mid-range= Road, Long = Track or Short distances).  Nairo Quintana appeared to use the same crank for TT and Road, and it showed in his difficultly at the final stages.  Team Movistar, are you listening? :) NameHeight (in)WeightCrank LengthTony Martin73165175Nairo Quintana66128172.5Chris Froome73157172.5Mark Cavendish69154170Marcel Kittel74190175Lance Armstrong70165175Alberto Contador69137172.5Fabian Cancellara73179177.5Andy Schleck73150172.5Andre Greipel72176172.5Vincenzo Nibali71143172.5Bradley Wiggins75152177.5Jens Voigt65168177.5Peter Sagan73163172.5Richie Porte68139167.5Alejandro Valverde69137172.5Joaquim Rodriguez67…

Crank Arm Length: Everything You Need To Know

Crank length is a complicated topic because determining optimal crank length involves going to a lab and measuring expired gasses, performing muscle biopsies and evaluating blood samples to test lactic concentration.  Although lactic testing only requires a finger prick, muscle biopsies require a needle resembling the size of a pencil.  Below is a picture for anyone who hasn't seen one before.  Ouch!
Although the lab method is the gold standard, I would like to propose a new method that's less invasive/ painful and involves a power meter, heart rate monitor, motor control tests and ratings of perceived exertion.  In testing myself and my clients, I have used a CompuTrainer and a Kurt Kinetic Smart Road Trainer with equal success.

It's common for sprinters to experience a 200 watt improvement solely from optimizing crank length, and I want to pass these benefits to the masses.  I hope that after reading this post, you'll have a better understanding of how crank length a…

Is Running Hurting Your Cycling Performance?

As a runner for most of my life, only transitioning to dedicated cycling for the past few years, I hate to admit that running is the last form of cross training that a dedicated, competitive cyclists should consider.  The reason: Inflexibility.

Although the high impact nature of running helps to improve bone density, the adaptations the body goes through can hurt your cycling performance.  The more you run, the better you get because the muscles, tendons and ligaments develop elasticity to conserve energy.  Rather than relying entirely on energy sources to produce a muscular contraction, elastically stored energy within the muscle doesn't require energy consumption, so you save considerably more energy which allows you to run faster for longer.  However, when the muscles and tendon adapt this way, it comes at a major sacrifice: range of motion.  Every muscle used in running will become more inflexible and "spring-like" in order to handl…

Is Your Crank Arm Length Too Long?

While studies seem to be fixated on the length of the femur, tibia and foot, the fact is this: Inflexibility is the variable most likely contributing to the discomfort associated with long cranks.  This is especially true if you don't have normal range of motion at the hip, knee and/or ankle.  If this is the case, then the length of the bones is the last thing you need to worry about!  Instead, you need to investigate the fascia, muscle, tendons and ligaments.  These are more likely to affect your pedal stroke.
"Inflexibility is the variable most likely contributing to the discomfort associated with long cranks." If there's a slight bit of imbalance in any of these structures, this will cause you to compensate and make it difficult to pedal comfortably.  If the body wants to or can't resist compensating, injury is inevitable, and if you ignore your imbalances, you will get injured!  It's better to act…