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Do clip in pedals work your calves more than standard pedals?

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Do clip in pedals work your calves more than standard pedals?

Old 02-23-13, 04:16 AM
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escobar147
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Do clip in pedals work your calves more than standard pedals?

I've heard that clip in pedals are more efficient because they utilise your calf muscles more so than standard pedals. Could well be marketing spiel but I would like to here from people's actual experience

I use standard pedals atm and my calves never feel worked really only my quadriceps.
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Old 02-23-13, 06:38 AM
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mr_pedro
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You can put more or less emphasize on calves regardless of pedals. By changing the position where your foot sits on the pedal and by tilting your feet up and down as you spin around you can put your calves to work.
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Old 02-23-13, 09:36 AM
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Mr_pedro, where on the pedals would you place your foot to emphasise your calves? Further forward?
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Old 02-23-13, 10:25 AM
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Calves are generally not the weak link so it's unlikely you're ever really going to feel like your calves are 'worked' regardless of what pedals you use. Clipless pedals are more comfortable and useful for sprinting but don't expect an increase in your performance.
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Old 02-23-13, 10:34 AM
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Clipless pedals are more efficient, but that's nothing to do with your calves. Though I do run across people who get calf cramps when riding hard. Clipless pedals don't allow you to mitigate calf strain by sliding your foot forward. If you want to work your calves, do one-legged calf raises on a stair. You'll like going clipless. There's a reason almost everyone uses them. Practice first, though. Too many people have a "Shimano moment" because they didn't practice until clipping out was second nature.
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Old 02-23-13, 02:30 PM
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With clipless pedals you can use a more forward cleat placement (toward the toe) which would cause you to rely more on your calf muscles. Personally I’d rather be using up my energy on working my larger muscles than my calf muscles so I use a mid-foot placement of my cleats. If I want to specifically work my calf muscles I’ll do some hills or sprints with harder upstrokes.

I do prefer the power transfer efficiency of clipless

Last edited by clemsongirl; 02-24-13 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 02-23-13, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by escobar147 View Post
Mr_pedro, where on the pedals would you place your foot to emphasise your calves? Further forward?
yes further forward and tilting foot down when you move pedal down will work the calves more.
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Old 02-24-13, 05:24 PM
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The only time my calves get sore is from hammering up hills in a standing position. I have my cleats set so that the axis of the pedal is directly under the ball of my foot with my foot horizontal or just a couple degrees toe down.

More than the calves, I find that learning to get the glutes and hams into the downstroke adds power and endurance by taking some of the load off the quads. You do this by using the glutes and quads to actively extend your hip, pulling back your femur and driving your lower leg down rather than just letting gravity and your weight do the work as your quads extend the knee. Do some heavy squats or stiff legged deadlifts (please learn to do them correctly or you can hurt yourself) until your glutes and hams are sore, then go riding. The soreness will let you know when these muscles are engaged and not just along for the ride. I questioned this technique when I first heard about it but it really helps make the mental/neural connections to help you get all the big muscles of the lower extremities working in concert. IMHO if your quads are dying and your glutes and hams aren't even sore, you're doing something wrong.

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Old 02-24-13, 06:08 PM
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Mostly, calf muscles are just resisting the force of your quads and glutes. With no calf muscle tension, your foot would bend upward grotesquely as you pushed down on the pedals. The calf muscle largely only serves to keep this from happening. In a sense, you could replace your calf muscle with a kevlar strap and it would do the same thing without expending/wasting and energy in process. Mid foot cleat placement, as advocated by some, (or pedaling with the instep) goes a long way toward accomplishing this.

Of course because you do have calf muscles and the ankle moves, you might find it helpful to change things up when pedaling by dropping the heel for hard efforts so the leg extends straighter, or more pointing the toe at higher cadences so the leg doesn't straighten as much. Either way, the calf muscle does little in the way of useful work in the sense of contributing power.
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Old 02-25-13, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
The only time my calves get sore is from hammering up hills in a standing position. I have my cleats set so that the axis of the pedal is directly under the ball of my foot with my foot horizontal or just a couple degrees toe down.

More than the calves, I find that learning to get the glutes and hams into the downstroke adds power and endurance by taking some of the load off the quads. You do this by using the glutes and quads to actively extend your hip, pulling back your femur and driving your lower leg down rather than just letting gravity and your weight do the work as your quads extend the knee. Do some heavy squats or stiff legged deadlifts (please learn to do them correctly or you can hurt yourself) until your glutes and hams are sore, then go riding. The soreness will let you know when these muscles are engaged and not just along for the ride. I questioned this technique when I first heard about it but it really helps make the mental/neural connections to help you get all the big muscles of the lower extremities working in concert. IMHO if your quads are dying and your glutes and hams aren't even sore, you're doing something wrong.
Also my experience. I do SLDLs, too.
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Old 02-26-13, 10:01 AM
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The efficiency of clipless pedals is pretty hotly debated and personally if I could find a none clipless shoe with a stiff enough sole, I would never clip in again. I have ridden everything from centuries to around the block avg spds from 20 to 8 and have never personally noticed any advantage to clipless other than the outside edge of my foot doesn't fall asleep with stiff soled bike shoes.
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