Cycling is an excellent form of low-impact aerobic exercise that burns up calories. Calorie burn ranges from 150 calories per hour for a small person travelling at 8kph to over 800 calories per hour for a larger person travelling uphill or over 32kph.
If the saddle on your bike is too low, it won’t be possible for you to be able to utilise the power which is present in your legs. If the saddle is set too high, you will probably feel your hips roll from side to side as your legs are stretched too far from the bottom of each pedal stroke.
To get the saddle the correct height, sit on the bike with one of the pedals pushed at 90 degrees towards the ground. Your knee should still have a small flexion. To adjust the fore and aft position of the saddle, put one of the crank arms at 3 o’clock. The front aspect of your knee should be in a vertical line with the axel of the pedal.
If the saddle is extremely far back or, alternatively, too far forward, you will put pressure on your knees and risk injury. If the handlebars are too low you will strain your entire back. So, make sure that the bars are not much lower than your hips.
The distance between the saddle and the bar is also important. Ensure that you are able to reach the bars with your elbows still slightly flexed. If they are too close your back will not be in a neutral position. If they are too far away you will be working your core muscles too much. And this may result in lower back pain.
Maintain relaxation in your neck and shoulders
Check constantly that your neck and shoulders are relaxed to prevent aches and pains. To get the most effective pedal stroke, attempt to pedal in a circular shape rather than a square shape. In other words, use the whole of the pedal stroke to generate power rather than just pushing down from the top to the bottom.
Pulling the pedal back up on the recovery part of the pedal stroke will give your hamstrings a good workout. As you come to the bottom of the pedal stroke, push your heels down to get the full range of movement and to make use of all your leg muscles. The optimum pedal stroke rate is around 90-100rpm, which keeps you on top of the resistance and helps you to get the oxygen supply that is essential for your legs to work optimally.
Make sure that your upper body is kept as relaxed as possible. Apart from pulling on the bars when you are going up a steep hill try to conserve the energy and have a more comfortable ride by working your legs and keeping your grip as well as your neck and shoulders as relaxed as possible.
Biomechanical analysis of cycling
Cycling is a movement of the lower body that takes place in a sagittal plane about a transverse axis transverse plane and mainly uses the muscles of the legs. The actions are concerned with using multiple joints, namely the hip, knee and ankle.
Many a keen cyclist can be seen dressed in Lance Armstrong look-a-like bike apparel with tight-fitting Lycra cycling shorts, a slim-fitting breathable nylon top and matching helmet and gloves. Whilst this look might be standard issue for enthusiastic road cyclists, mountain bike clothes are a closer match for what the average cyclist might wear for a comfortable day in the saddle.
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