Thursday, April 25, 2013

Souplesse Workout

I did this simple workout the other night to emphasize the Souplesse of my pedaling action.  Yes, it's Springtime in Seattle, and it's generally more attractive during the dark months of Winter than now, but I had been puttering around the shop working on and cleaning bikes.  After taking the Bridgestone out for a few mile test spin, I came back to the shop and rode the rollers.

Rollers are excellent for increasing cadence and fluidity in the pedaling stroke because the primary resistance to keeping the wheels moving is the friction between tire and roller, and there is very little mass to store the energy of the pedaling.  This combination results in immediate feedback to the rider in the form of a smooth whirring sound if the stroke is smooth, or alternately a kind of whoompa-whoompa-whoompa if power is being applied only during the downstroke.  I always begin roller sessions with the awareness of the sound and concentrate on pedaling faster while keeping the whirring going.

Once I'm good and warmed up from this, I clip in only one foot at a time and do sets of rotations with only one leg at a time.  In addition to training the muscles in each leg to fire in the order necessary to rotate the cranks around the spindle, single leg reps will tend to provide information on relative leg strength in the different muscles.  Begin in a relatively easy gear and start by rotating the cranks until exhaustion, noting the number of cycles for each leg and the muscle group that tires first.

Next, go back to pedaling at high cadence while concentrating on keeping the whir going.  I find that this feels so easy with both legs compared with the difficulty encountered doing only one leg at a time.  This indicates that the training is working, and the key here is to focus on continuing to recruit the same muscles in the same order, while maintaining an quick and fluid pedaling motion.  I like to repeat alternating between the single leg muscle recruitment order training and the bi-pedal fluidity focused training until I can only pedal about 25% of the original reps till exhaustion per cycle.

If there are side to side discrepancies between cycles before exhaustion between legs, I might do 5-10 more reps on the weaker side during the alternations.  I also like to incorporate some yoga like poses or sequences to address the muscle groups that were the first to tire.

Happy circle making!