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  1. #1
    Italian Stallion mcafiero's Avatar
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    gritting your teeth vs. proper breathing

    I always see photos of local track racers in that final push on the track, gritting their teeth, as they try to get that win.

    But a few years ago when I used to work out with a sprint coach (running) at our local high school track, he used to get all up on my case when I'd grit my teeth while sprinting because it was wasting energy and my energy needed to be utilized solely in my legs. He always emphasized to keep my neck and face relaxed and focus on good, solid breathing.

    He's a National Champion sprinter and Arena Football player.

    So then I start sprinting at the velodrome and i notice every single guy gritting his teeth, straining at the neck and doing the opposite of what I learned in my other kind of sprinting. I even noticed myself doing it. In fact, just last week at the track I tried to focus on relaxing my face and breathing nice and hard.

    I don't know if it really matters in cycling. Just sort of curious if anyone has any thoughts about that.
    "Go out hard. When it hurts... speed up"
    I have a grande hairy chest and I am of Italian descent.
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  2. #2
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    I had a teammate that at national championships she directed me to stand one of the turns and yell at her to "BREEEEATH!!" to remind her to do so. She would focus so hard on nailing the standing start that she would forget start breathing again until forced to do so by her body. The standing start is like a 8-10 rep max effort, which in the gym is highly anaerobic.
    Last edited by carleton; 09-12-11 at 09:19 PM.

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    See me making like a guppy here? That's your answer. (Big, black, bottom of page.)

    http://www.cyclingcaptured.com/2011C...476714_dpTfwN3

    Generally, gritting and straining tightens everything up, which means you hips and legs tighten up as well, which means that you aren't going to be sufficiently relaxed to maximize your cadence, etc. Breathing doesn't really matter in terms of the effort, assuming it's a sprint-type effort of 10-12 seconds or less. But breathing does help you remember to relax.

  4. #4
    Italian Stallion mcafiero's Avatar
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    You might just scoop up some flies in that effort! Looking strong, though!

    Quote Originally Posted by kevvwill View Post
    See me making like a guppy here? That's your answer. (Big, black, bottom of page.)

    http://www.cyclingcaptured.com/2011C...476714_dpTfwN3

    Generally, gritting and straining tightens everything up, which means you hips and legs tighten up as well, which means that you aren't going to be sufficiently relaxed to maximize your cadence, etc. Breathing doesn't really matter in terms of the effort, assuming it's a sprint-type effort of 10-12 seconds or less. But breathing does help you remember to relax.
    "Go out hard. When it hurts... speed up"
    I have a grande hairy chest and I am of Italian descent.
    2010 Cannondale Supersix
    2011 Dolan DF3

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    Ha! The important thing to note is how nothing is straining -- relaxed arms, legs not tight. That's all from breathing. I've found that proper breathing during lifting really helps while cycling. That and a big exhale before an effort, because when you blow out, you have to suck back in.

    Compare that with the guy behind me, who IS gritting his teeth, and how if you follow the photo sequence, the gap keeps growing. It's a common misconception that gritting is good. It's true that breathing doesn't matter as regards an effort, because it is purely anaerobic. But the relaxation part is important.
    Last edited by kevvwill; 09-15-11 at 08:51 AM. Reason: Additional information.

  6. #6
    Italian Stallion mcafiero's Avatar
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    Here's what my coach sent me: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18978622

    Still, I don't think clenching is a great thing. I feel better keeping my face and neck relaxed and breathing. But who knows.
    "Go out hard. When it hurts... speed up"
    I have a grande hairy chest and I am of Italian descent.
    2010 Cannondale Supersix
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcafiero View Post
    Here's what my coach sent me: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18978622

    Still, I don't think clenching is a great thing. I feel better keeping my face and neck relaxed and breathing. But who knows.
    I think that study might be applicable at the initial moment of effort, like the jump or standing start. I just find that clenching makes everything clench.

  8. #8
    Elitist carleton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevvwill View Post
    I think that study might be applicable at the initial moment of effort, like the jump or standing start. I just find that clenching makes everything clench.
    +1

    Exactly. The countermovement jump is a single effort. A single maximal effort:


    The study showed that rate of force development was higher and subsequently time to peak force was lower between the clinched and non-cliched teeth methods...but "there were no significant differences in peak force". So, the the only gains for clinching the teeth are the rate of force development, but it did not affect the actual peak force.

  9. #9
    Italian Stallion mcafiero's Avatar
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    "Go out hard. When it hurts... speed up"
    I have a grande hairy chest and I am of Italian descent.
    2010 Cannondale Supersix
    2011 Dolan DF3

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