Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2016

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.

RUNNING RESTRICTS THE AERO POSITION
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?

LONG CRANKS DON'T LEAD TO INJURY... BODY IMBALANCES DO
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…

Crank Length for Track Cycling

There is a big misconception that shorter cranks provide superior acceleration compared to longer cranks, and this is mainly because short cranks are often associated with the explosive and strong track cyclist.  In reality, the reason why track cyclists have to lift weights and work on explosive training is solely to compensate for the baggage short cranks come with- an increased force required to produce the torque needed to move a smaller lever arm.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE CRANK IS TOO SHORT OR TOO LONG?
It's reasonable to think shorter is better, especially when you consider that since the gears are fixed, faster speeds can only be reached by hitting a higher cadence.  But how do you know when the crank is too short?

When the cranks are too short, it will be too difficult to turn the cranks because your body simply can't generate the force needed to create torque.  As a result, it will take longer to climb up the rpm's- your accelerations will be slower, especially from a…