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  1. #1
    Senior Member bboseley's Avatar
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    Glutes - Quads ?

    I always seem to be confused about some aspect of cycling. Now is no exception. I have recently moved my seat position fairly far back at the insistence of what we can call my coach. Former racer, LBS owner, etc. Sure enough, my pedaling power increased, along with speeds, and virtually no hand, arm, or shoulder issues. Feels great. Now my confusion comes from whether I am using primarily quads or glutes in this position and more importantly what difference does it make which I am using? Also, from this back position, should I be using heals down or toes down as I come over the top? I will sleep much better if I eliminate the current confusion.

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    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    From what I understand, sliding the seat back puts in better position for climbing as your using the larger muscles or your hamstrings and glutes more. You're still using your quads but the other muscles are more dominant in that position. I've tended to slide far back on my saddle for some harder, longer climbs and to use different muscles on longer rides.

    Moving the saddle forward, puts you in more of "spinning" position that is used more for Time Trials and where you can spin at higher cadences. In that position while you're still using all your leg muscles you're probably bringing the quads more into play.

    I alway try to ride with the sole of the foot fairly parallel to the ground regardless of the saddle position but that's just me.

  3. #3
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    For a momment I thought this was going to be another one of those threads about bib shorts.

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    Senior Member skinny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bboseley
    I always seem to be confused about some aspect of cycling. Now is no exception. I have recently moved my seat position fairly far back at the insistence of what we can call my coach. Former racer, LBS owner, etc. Sure enough, my pedaling power increased, along with speeds, and virtually no hand, arm, or shoulder issues. Feels great. Now my confusion comes from whether I am using primarily quads or glutes in this position and more importantly what difference does it make which I am using? Also, from this back position, should I be using heals down or toes down as I come over the top? I will sleep much better if I eliminate the current confusion.
    The best way to illustrate how important the gluts are in cycling is to sit in a straight back chair with you back straight at a 90deg angle to your quads or against the back of the chair. Now try to stand up. Can't do it unless you have VERY strong quads. Now lean forward and try to stand up. Voila, the gluts rule. They are the biggest mus-culls in your body and the primary muscles used in cycling. Pedal style is fairly individual, but most people are best served by striving for a level foot through the stroke.

    This chart has been posted elsewhere on the forums, but it doesn't hurt to post it again:
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    as I used to be NotAsFat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bboseley
    I always seem to be confused about some aspect of cycling. Now is no exception. I have recently moved my seat position fairly far back at the insistence of what we can call my coach. Former racer, LBS owner, etc. Sure enough, my pedaling power increased, along with speeds, and virtually no hand, arm, or shoulder issues. Feels great. Now my confusion comes from whether I am using primarily quads or glutes in this position and more importantly what difference does it make which I am using? Also, from this back position, should I be using heals down or toes down as I come over the top? I will sleep much better if I eliminate the current confusion.
    When in doubt, heels down (at least when sitting). This allows the knee to straighten a few degrees more than it does with the toes down and gives you better leverage. It's a little harder to spin this way, but when you need the extra power to get up a hill, it helps.

    Sliding back on the seat does two things: it extends your legs further, giving you better leverage, and it forces you to lean forward a bit more. This helps get your glutes more involved in your pedal stroke.
    Starve a terrorist - ride a bike to work. It's not just good for the environment, it's good for civilization.

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  6. #6
    Just ride. roadbuzz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bboseley
    Now my confusion comes from whether I am using primarily quads or glutes in this position and more importantly what difference does it make which I am using?
    If you want to *feel* the muscles you're using, go for a hard ride pushing a bigger gear than you would normally. In general, the muscles you're using most will start complaining. The glutes will deliver more power, and recover faster to do it again.

  7. #7
    The guy in the 50+ jersey PAlt's Avatar
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    You need to have balance in all the muscles you use while riding. After having some issues with quad burning on longer rides and thinking I had an issue with seat position, turns out problem was diagnosed as not enough strength in the glutes. As I have a job that keeps me behind a desk all day, my resting rump is trained to relax more than those quads I use to spin high cadence with. Single leg squats, step-ups done correctly, and focus on pedal stoke recommended to correct the problem. We'll see if it works...

  8. #8
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    check skinny's chart

    as you slide back or move seat back you 'push' more of the stroke cycle, using the extensors.
    move the saddle forward and you use the flexors more (in proportion)
    the gluts provide an intermediary and critical role as well as 'starting' the stroke as hip extensors, so they remain primary regardless of the position.
    climbing in the saddle usually invvolves some movement rearward, meaning more pushing, more extensor engagement. spinning in an in-saddle sprint usually means you go forward on the rivet, more flexors, and if the saddle height isn;t right the hammies will be complainin big time.
    this assumes a 'normal' road position.
    The more forward position of the modern TT is such that, even though forward, it still allows a strong engagement of the extensors (quad muscle group).
    flat, toe down or 'ankling' pedal style are all valid and are/should be adjusted for in 'position'.
    dropping the heel at the top of the stroke isn't an advantage unless you are really far back. In a normal KOPS position a dropped heel at the top delays the engagment of the gluts - not the best thing.
    ankling does have an advantage that it reduces and slows the required movements of the rest of the leg, which carries much more mass. Slower and less movement means less muscle opposition and the possibility of greater rpms. But doing that means the lower leg muscles - flexors and extensors take a bigger hit of the effort.
    Current thinking is for some ankle flex, but much less than what one saw in the premier pedalers of the 50s, 60 & 70s. Trackies tend to be more supple in stroke than roadies, since the fixed gear requires the engine to do all the 'transmission' work.

  9. #9
    OnTheRoad or AtTheBeach stonecrd's Avatar
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    Interestingly there have been some recent studies that are showing that cleat position would be better at the arch rather than the ball of your feet. One discussion of this can be found here:

    http://www2.trainingbible.com/joesbl...-position.html
    The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard and the shallow end is much too large

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  10. #10
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    I was having a lot of trouble with cleat position and I read the same thing as stonecrd about moving the clips all the way back. I also read in " Zinn's cycling primer" too move them all the way back. So I did a few weeks ago and no more problems. I had to add some twist in the rotation as well. It felt funny at first, but it works for me.
    George

  11. #11
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stonecrd
    Interestingly there have been some recent studies that are showing that cleat position would be better at the arch rather than the ball of your feet. One discussion of this can be found here:
    http://www2.trainingbible.com/joesbl...-position.html
    this may or may not point to some new direction. But I'll be late in 'adopting' this. Long ago I tried the experiment of moving the cleat back as far as the adjustment would allow, while also adjusting the saddle to keep roughly the same leg angle during the stroke. I'm not gonna go thru the whole deal, but I found what little power increase I imagined was completely overshadowed by a marked decrease in ability to spin up the rpms undervarying speeds.
    If you're gonna ride at a constant speed and low rpms, this prolly might be a good choice. But a lot of the riding I do, including much of my group riding, is done under greatly varying speeds and cadence. Not being able to spin a gear up under the varying conditions of a race or hard group ride is a HUGE handicap, and would find me off the back quite quickly.
    For TTs, where the aim is to 'steady', this new direction might be a consideration and might be applicable to anyone who rides 'steady state'. But I hate TTs and never do them.
    This is definitely something we can all try at home (moving the cleat all the way rearward), and decide on our own, yea or nay.

  12. #12
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bboseley
    I always seem to be confused about some aspect of cycling. Now is no exception. I have recently moved my seat position fairly far back at the insistence of what we can call my coach. Former racer, LBS owner, etc. Sure enough, my pedaling power increased, along with speeds, and virtually no hand, arm, or shoulder issues. Feels great. Now my confusion comes from whether I am using primarily quads or glutes in this position and more importantly what difference does it make which I am using? Also, from this back position, should I be using heals down or toes down as I come over the top? I will sleep much better if I eliminate the current confusion.
    There are no rigid rules on how to set up a bike for best performance. There are guide lines but all these guides need adjust ing for the one important thing about riding a bike efiiciently. It has to fit right.

    I ride alot of hills- I have to where I live and my saddle height- Fore and aft position on the saddle and foot position on the pedal is the same on all the bikes.

    Now according to JPPE- My bikes are set up wrong for hill climbing. Not that I am saying that JPPE is wrong- It is just that I prefer a more forward position on the bike- Even though I am climbing hills. Then I settle into a speed bit on the road bike and I lower my riding position and my cadence goes up- speed goes up and my butt moves further back on the saddle.

    As to what muscle I am using- I could not say. Only thing I do know is that none of them ache till I have I have done a lot of miles- so I am not over or under using any of them. And now for the nasty bit to throw you off track- I reckon that the muscle I use more than any other is the calf muscle. I have occasionally had to lay off the bike. The first muscle to lose form and strength is my calf's. And once I get back into training- I know which muscle needs building up and once they have their strength back- The hills are just another part of the ride again.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  13. #13
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Interesting discussion. I think I'll move the cleats back and see how that works.

    Stapfam, I've noticed that when I have those very steep off-road climbs, I move so far forward I feel like I'm going to get proctoscoped by the nose of my saddle. I wonder if I should just move the saddle to a more forward position to accommodate the position I tend to get in anyway.

  14. #14
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Weak Link
    Interesting discussion. I think I'll move the cleats back and see how that works.

    Stapfam, I've noticed that when I have those very steep off-road climbs, I move so far forward I feel like I'm going to get proctoscoped by the nose of my saddle. I wonder if I should just move the saddle to a more forward position to accommodate the position I tend to get in anyway.
    It is those steep offroad hills that I noticed my position on the bike. My offroads are all about up hill and down. Very little flat on them unless you count anything less than 5% as flat. The normal way of setting for and aft position on a bike is with the cranks horizontal to the ground. Your knee should be vertically above the centre of the pedal. (Just a guide line folks and you adjust from there for your comfort) I found that with my knee rearward of the centre- I was in a difficult position for getting power to the pedals. So I tried setting up with the knee in front of the centre of the pedal. I am actually about 1" in front of the Centre and it works. Or at least works for me. I transferred that knee position to the Road bike and it worked. I did put the saddle a bit rearward and ran into a problem in that I would be on the nose of the saddle on any steep hills and taking the weight off the butt. Since setting the Road bike back to my normal position- I am more comfortable.

    Now on the steep downhills- I do give myself a minor problem in that offroad I have to get the Butt to the rear of the saddle if I am at speed. The position is not the problem but stones coming up from the rear wheel do hurt a bit as they hit the first immovable object they find. Even though I do gave a rear mudgaurd.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  15. #15
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Stapfam, you are right, that is kind of an unusual position, especially on the road bike. I do a lot of offroad climbig too and I have to move forward to keep the front wheel on the ground on the really steep climbs. But on the road, I have always slid back on the saddle for climbing power and I slide forward, "on the rivet", for fast flat runs.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg
    Stapfam, you are right, that is kind of an unusual position, especially on the road bike. I do a lot of offroad climbig too and I have to move forward to keep the front wheel on the ground on the really steep climbs. But on the road, I have always slid back on the saddle for climbing power and I slide forward, "on the rivet", for fast flat runs.

    Going to get technical now. Those fast downhills offroad,and I am talking about in excess of 30degrees, do require that you keep the weight behind the saddle or start somersaulting over the bars. But then when you find that you require steering-the handlebars don't work. You have to lean to get round curves or around trees. Anything less that say 25 degrees and the weight still has to get behind the saddle but providing you are not bouncing around too much- then you can get steering back by getting the body weight forward again-as long as you do not touch the front brake.

    Now on those climbs where you are trying to keep the front wheel on the ground- Try them on wet clay or chalk. That is where you have to keep weight back to get traction, but the front lifts so forward on the saddle to get the weight forward and you finish up juggling weight distribution back and forth on the saddle.
    Easier way to do it is get the weight for traction and when the front wheel lifts- twist the wrists down. This transfers body weight forward and keeps the front end down. Then as it gets so you lose traction- Twist the wrists back up and the weight gets transferred back again. Doesn't help on the really steep hills though And we have a little pimple called Killer Hill. It kills you walking up it so you don't do it. It is only 200 yards long and you start from a slow speed due to ruts and it gradually gets steeper to about 20%. then just as you think you have had enough- it steepens to 25% but you are tired- got fed up with juggling weight- but there is only 25 yards to go. So you finish the climb and lie down quick before you fall down.


    One of the reasons possibly for my forward seating position is that I have short thighs. Only about 1 " shorter than the norm and should not affect my riding position by much but it does. Funnily enough- I have met a few other riders with a similar riding position and some have mentioned the short thigh length. Perhaps it is a local genetic problem but I am not from this part of the south originally so it is not inbreeding either.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

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