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Old 05-30-16, 12:58 AM   #1
spectastic
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pulling up on pedal stroke

Apparently, various sources indicate that this is not a good idea, even for maximal efforts, like on a climb, even for sprints. I have long held the belief that pulling up engages more muscle groups and delivers more power, but apparently, it leads to a net loss in efficiency, and may even take away from our max power. On the other hand, I'm noticeably snappier with clipless pedals, and I have attributed that to my ability to engage the pedals on the upstroke. What's your take?

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Old 05-30-16, 07:27 AM   #2
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My take is that efficiency wins. Forcibly pulling up on the pedal is a last ditch effort to keep from blowing up. You would be better off focusing on pedaling efficiently in circles. This is why form sprints make you a faster sprinter. They force you to focus your power during the whole stroke. Oval rings may change this dynamic though. I'd ask Ex or Hermes about that as they have extensive race experience with them.
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Old 05-30-16, 07:39 AM   #3
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Old 05-30-16, 07:41 AM   #4
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Old 05-30-16, 08:48 AM   #5
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Seems as if the feeling of pulling up on the pedals is largely illusory. Other tests I've seen suggest the upward force exerted tends towards zero.

My personal take is that being clipped in allows one to go harder, but because of the foot retention, not because it improves the pedal stroke or the arc through which one exerts useful force. Just my experience/opinion, as above.
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Old 05-30-16, 12:57 PM   #6
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somebody do a race on flat pedals and let us know how it goes. I'm with shovel; circles ftw.
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Old 05-30-16, 02:07 PM   #7
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I personally think it's good to do some quadrant drills including pulling up. Not so much that I'll pull up on pedals during a ride or race, but that it reduces the tendency to forget circles and just smash down when the oxygen deficit hits. I used to do this drill where I'd try and fool my powertaps cadence sensing by pedaling perfectly smooth circles.
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Old 05-30-16, 02:24 PM   #8
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I didn't watch the video.

Seated? I don't think I pull up that hard. I do when I'm done or on a super steep hill, but not super consciously when pedaling normally. I'll have to think about this when riding next time.

Standing? I pull up pretty hard, up and over the top of the pedal stroke. I'm pretty sure it's an integral part of my jump because I'm shifting over the top of the stroke and the first downstroke has a big shift in the back. I don't have a recent picture of me sprinting but my teammate took this of me back in 2011. I was sprinting myself to the line after getting shelled in a Tues Night race. I'm either blown or about to blow here so way tail end of sprint, maybe 400-500w power here. I don't have peak power at hand but historically 1200-1300w if off the back and resting before sprinting.

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Old 05-30-16, 03:24 PM   #9
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I personally think it's good to do some quadrant drills including pulling up. Not so much that I'll pull up on pedals during a ride or race, but that it reduces the tendency to forget circles and just smash down when the oxygen deficit hits. I used to do this drill where I'd try and fool my powertaps cadence sensing by pedaling perfectly smooth circles.
I also do those quadrant drills. In fact, I started doing them because my physical therapist prescribed them as part of my knee rehab.
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Old 05-30-16, 05:36 PM   #10
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Somewhere here there's a race report about doing Devil's Punchbowl in loafers. And doing Stage 1 at Gila with a missing cleat.

Sitting, not much difference at tempo. Standing and sprinting or climbing, big difference in efficiency. Which is why when you see these "scientific studies" you need to actually look at the protocol. Do we always ride a bike sitting riding at tempo? Obviously not. Did they see what happens on the outliers of the cadence spectrum? Nope. How about standing starts? Nope.

There are some obvious "real world" examples where pulling up on the pedal adds power. Think about the circumstances where people pull out of cleats...
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Old 05-30-16, 05:43 PM   #11
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Junior was coached for TTs to use a stomping style so most effort is in the down stroke. He had to unlearn smooth. Stomping made him faster.
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Old 05-30-16, 05:55 PM   #12
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Junior was coached for TTs to use a stomping style so most effort is in the down stroke. He had to unlearn smooth. Stomping made him faster.
You've seen Mr. Rodgers on a TT bike?
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Old 05-30-16, 06:46 PM   #13
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You've seen Mr. Rodgers on a TT bike?
Clenbuterol guy?
No.
Froome and say...every other pro pedal differently. If a new pedaling technique generates more power, for a rider, then happy to use it. It also makes sense.
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Old 05-30-16, 06:56 PM   #14
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Thurlow...Mr. Rodgers. Looks like...well, not pretty or smooth. Total stomp. Goes like heck in a TT. Works for him.

I think it was Lucien Van Impe who said climbers need souplesse; that smooth round stroke. Reality is it's individual. So try different things. The other reality is it can be a moving target. I used to spin a pretty high cadence climbing but now I find myself dropping lower and using more muscle than aerobic. Gettin old you'd think it would go the other way...
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Old 05-30-16, 07:02 PM   #15
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Early 80s this was a project of mine (I worked for the guy). We had some (medalist) cyclists and coaches try it and we were very much pushing the idea of spinning, using all muscles. I believed it and used it. I got my wife doing it and taught my son to ride this way. But I also noticed some very square peddlers went very fast. The discussion became push harder shorter and rest more of the stroke, or do a smooth stoke and work less the whole revolution. Our conclusion became spinning is more efficient and better for saving energy. But when it came to power - we had no conclusion. I road/ride smooth and propagated the idea that that was the best way to ride. https://www.facebook.com/search/top/...0cycle%20coach was showing Daniel how to do that stomp pedal for TTs and said he had lots of evidence (he has lots of data) it increased power. I think he's right.

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Old 05-30-16, 07:05 PM   #16
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Thurlow...Mr. Rodgers. Looks like...well, not pretty or smooth. Total stomp. Goes like heck in a TT. Works for him.

I think it was Lucien Van Impe who said climbers need souplesse; that smooth round stroke. Reality is it's individual. So try different things. The other reality is it can be a moving target. I used to spin a pretty high cadence climbing but now I find myself dropping lower and using more muscle than aerobic. Gettin old you'd think it would go the other way...
Local. I see Thurlow often (as I had to race with him he is a reason I gave up). Son raced with with him yesterday. He rides with junior on and off - 50X or so. Thurlow is very unique in his style. He was (still is) a very good climber.
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Old 05-31-16, 08:36 AM   #17
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You don't need to be pulling up with clipless pedals for them to be beneficial. Seems many people imagine the only benefit of foot retention would be the ability to apply force on the upstroke as well as the downstroke, but I don't think so. The proprioceptive benefits of not having to manage the placement of your feet on the pedal are significant, especially at higher power outputs where maintaining control would necessarily be harder. Even to the extent that pulling up on the pedals is a thing, as in sprints, I suspect that the benefits of pulling up are less about the watts you can add by pulling up and more about balancing your motion/forces to let your downstroke leg really do its thing. I don't think the lesson to be drawn from studies showing elite athletes don't apply force on the upstroke is that foot retention is useless, and I don't think the lesson to be drawn from people popping out of pedals while sprinting is that they're adding Massive Upstroke Watts per se. Whatever the case, if your sense is that you're adding power by pulling up while sprinting, you probably are and should keep doing it. Even if the actual power added on the upstroke is miniscule or downright illusory, I'm convinced that the kinesthesia going on is pretty important.
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Old 05-31-16, 08:48 AM   #18
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When my PT had me doing the quadrant drills, he wanted me to focus on using the upstroke to stabilize my hips on the saddle. Essentially, the idea was to engage my hip flexors to pull my pelvis down into the saddle. By creating that stability in my hips, I could get more power into the downstroke on the other side.
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Old 05-31-16, 09:39 AM   #19
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Yeah, just that. Your legs aren't two independently functioning units.
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Old 05-31-16, 10:06 AM   #20
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On the trainer I don't lift very hard when seated. When I go anaerobic I'm pulling up and over when seated.

When I ride flat pedals (BMX typically) I find I lift my foot off the pedal on the upstroke. I remembered this when I was on the trainer. So I'm doing some work but it's more "non-negative" than "positive", meaning I'm more lifting my leg rather than pulling up hard.

When i'm blown I tend to pedal squares, lots of stomping happening.
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Old 05-31-16, 10:29 AM   #21
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Whenever I read "scientifically proven" I get out my salt shaker.

Proof may exist in mathematics, but it doesn't really belong in the scientific method. The things that belong are evidence and probability.

Yes there have been a few studies lately that attempted to find out if the time-honored "pedaling circles" thing that professionals have been taught for a century actually results in more power. Some found evidence to the contrary, or at least it seemed as if they did. Did the study include a possible explantion for the increased force on the downstroke being that the circular pedaling action actually unweighted the opposite leg, resulting in greater net forces directed towards bike movement, and less of them towards eccentric muscle damaging opposition? I don't know and don't care. I'm not a scientist.

At least I admit that I am not a scientist. I am also not easily swayed by articles in magazines. There is a reason why a century of professional riders were taught to pedal circles. I actually am not sure what that reason is, but I like pedaling circles. Nothing further is needed.
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Old 05-31-16, 11:02 AM   #22
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Old 05-31-16, 11:07 AM   #23
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Old 05-31-16, 11:20 AM   #24
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Even to the extent that pulling up on the pedals is a thing, as in sprints, I suspect that the benefits of pulling up are less about the watts you can add by pulling up and more about balancing your motion/forces to let your downstroke leg really do its thing.

...I'm convinced that the kinesthesia going on is pretty important.
For the former I'd disagree mostly because the measurable force to pull a cleat out a pedal is pretty significant. Having nearly pitched myself over the bars when this has happened sprinting or during standing starts, there's definitely a lot of upward force being applied here. And the math of one leg's measured force in watts on a down stroke would push me in that direction as well.

On the latter, I totally agree.

We employ leverage into the bike at different points at different times depending on position and effort level. No doubt this is going to increase or decrease upstroke production and efficiency.
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Old 05-31-16, 11:51 AM   #25
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Yeah, track sprints and especially standing starts in big gears (kilo, team sprint, etc) you definitely pull up on the pedal a significant amount. But those forces aren't nearly the same as on the road.
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