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Why pedalling like a pro may reduce your performance

Professional cyclists pedal at a very high cadence, often above 100 revolutions per minute, for improved efficiency, and they can sustain very high exercise intensity for a long period of time.

By: IANS |
September 25, 2015 3:44:23 pm
(Source: Thinkstock) Even if you find pedalling like Chris Froome or other Tour de France winners appealing, better not try it (Source: Thinkstock)

Even if you find pedalling like Chris Froome or other Tour de France winners appealing, better not try it as researchers have found that pedalling like a professional cyclist may actually reduce rather than improve your performance.

The researchers looked at a common measure of aerobic fitness called VO2 max.

“Pedalling faster might work for Tour de France winners but it probably won’t work for the rest of us. At low exercise intensity, increasing cadence (rate of pedalling) mostly results in a less effective stroke, reducing efficiency,” said Federico Formenti from University of oxford.

Professional cyclists pedal at a very high cadence, often above 100 revolutions per minute, for improved efficiency, and they can sustain very high exercise intensity for a long period of time.

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But Formenti and his colleagues found that this was less effective for recreational cyclists.

‘We used mathematical models to show the degree to which energy required to spin the legs increases with cadence,” Formenti said.

At a low exercise intensity of 50 Watts, a recreational cyclist trying to pedal like a professional at 110 revolutions per minute will use more than 60 percent of their power just to spin their legs.

Only 40 percent is going into overcoming the cycling resistance. To translate that to cycling on the road – only 40 percent of the energy you burn would be going into moving the bike forward, the study said.

The findings appeared in the journal Physiological Reports.

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