Anaerobic Cycling Power Output with Variations in Recumbent Body Configuration

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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While the recumbent cycling position has become common for high-performance human-powered vehicles, questions still remain as to the influence of familiarity on recumbent cycling, the optimal riding position, and how recumbent cycling positions compare to the standard cycling position (SCP). Eight recumbent-familiar cyclists and 10 recreational control cyclists were compared using the 30-s Wingate test in 5 recumbent positions as well as the SCP. For the recumbent positions, hip position was maintained 15° below the bottom bracket while the backrest was altered to investigate body configuration angle (BCA: the angle between the bottom bracket, hip, and a marker at mid-torso) changes from 100° to 140° in 10° increments. Between-groups analysis found that only 4 of the 126 analyzed parameters differed significantly, with all trends in the same direction. Therefore both groups were combined for further analysis. Whole-group peak power (14.6 W/kg body mass) and average power (9.9 and 9.8 W/kg body mass, respectively) were greatest in the 130° and 140° BCA positions, with power dropping off as BCA decreased through 100° (peak = 12.4 W/kg body mass; avg. = 9.0 W/kg body mass). Power output in the SCP (peak = 14.6 W/kg body mass; avg. = 9.7 W/kg body mass) was similar to that produced in the 130° and 140° recumbent BCA. Average hip and ankle angles increased (became more extended/ plantar-flexed), 36° and 10°, respectively, with recumbent BCA, while knee angles remained constant. The lower extremity kinematics of the 130° and 140° BCA were most similar to those of the SCP. However, SCP hip and knee joints were slightly extended and the ankle joint was slightly plantar-flexed compared to these two recumbent positions, even though the BCA of the SCP was not significantly different. These findings suggest: (a) the amount of recumbent familiarity in this study did not produce changes in power output or kinematics; (b) BCA is a major determinant of power output; and (c) recumbent-position anaerobic power output matches that of the SCP when BCA is maintained, even though lower extremity kinematics may be altered.

R.F. Reiser is with the Div. of Kinesiology & Health, 115 Corbett Bldg, Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071-3196; M.L. Peterson is with the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Univ. of Maine, Orono, ME 04469; J.P. Broker is with the Sport Science & Technology Div., U.S. Olympic Committee, Colorado Springs, CO 80909.

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