Effect of Gradient on Cycling Gross Efficiency and Technique

Marco Arkesteijn, Simon A Jobson, James Hopker, Louis Passfield

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    14 Citations (SciVal)


    PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of gradient on cycling gross efficiency and pedalling technique. METHODS: Eighteen trained cyclists were tested for efficiency, index of pedal force effectiveness (IFE), distribution of power production during the pedal revolution (dead centre size, DC) and timing and level of muscle activity of eight leg muscles. Cycling was performed on a treadmill at gradients of 0% (level), 4% and 8%, each at three different cadences (60, 75 and 90 rev·min). RESULTS: Efficiency was significantly decreased at a gradient of 8% compared with both 0% and 4% (P <0.05). The relationship between cadence and efficiency was not changed by gradient (P > 0.05). At a gradient of 8% there was a larger IFE between 45° and 225° and larger DC, compared with 0% and 4% (P <0.05). The onset of muscle activity for Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Gastrocnemius Lateralis and Gastrocnemius Medialis occurred earlier with increasing gradient (all P <0.05), whereas none of the muscles showed a change in offset (P > 0.05). Uphill cycling increased the overall muscle activity level (P <0.05), mainly induced by increased calf muscle activity. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that uphill cycling decreases cycling gross efficiency, and is associated with changes in pedalling technique.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)920–926
    JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2013


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