How Lance Armstrong trains his pedaling stroke
And how it compares to what PowerCranks does for the cyclist
Do you know how Lance pedals? Until recently we all just guessed to how Lance pedals his bicycle as there was no data available to us ordinary people. All anyone knew was he tended to pedal at higher cadences and higher power than almost everyone else. But, in general, studies tend to show that cadences like Lance uses tend to be less efficient than lower cadences. Did Lance get to this powerful combination by doing anything more than just riding his bike a lot? YES!!! A recent newsletter article from Carmichael Training Systems discusses what he has been doing, beyond the usual training, to achieve this result.
The article states Lance had his pedaling stroke analyzed with pressure plate pedals way back in 1993 (see below)
Cyclists have been known to pedal like this for a long time. People used to think because "everyone does it" nothing can be done to improve the situation. But, Armstrong and his team back then were not content to be like everyone else, even though he was very good - being the world champion at the time - he wanted more. Lance, Chris Carmichael, and a team of scientists felt there were several areas that could be improved to increase his power production. Since he was already the world champion it would have been hard for him to "push harder" and see much improvement. But, they were able to look at those forces and determine that significant improvements could be had by changing what Lance was doing across the bottom and across the top of the stroke. (Note: These changes are identical to what PowerCranks naturally force the cyclist to do, increasing the forces across the top and bottom while minimizing the negative forces on the backstroke.)
According to the article, he started this quest in 1993 and has working on improving his ability to use this pedaling style has been a major component of his training ever since. Here is what the article said: "Even though Lance Armstrong’s pedal stroke received the greatest amount of attention during his post-cancer comeback, Chris and Lance had worked on optimizing his pedal stroke far earlier than that. Starting in 1993. . ."
It is the making of these pedaling style changes to which CTS attributes Lances ability to ride at high cadences and high power. More of what the article says: "Increasing pedaling cadence sounds simple, but it actually takes years to perfect. Changing the cadence at which a cyclist normally rides – or his “cruising cadence” requires a neuromuscular adaptation, meaning it involves both the nervous system and the muscles. The adaptations that lead to increasing a comfortable cadence from 85-105 include: a more efficient neural recruitment pattern, an increase in central nervous system activation, an improvement in the synchronization of motor units, and a lowering of the neural inhibitory reflexes. In the graph below you can see where the power drops below the 0 point, that is where the unweighted leg inhibits the force produced by the drive leg.
Part of the neuromuscular adaptations limits this inhibitory effect by allowing the rider to get that non-driving leg moving faster. It’s not producing force to the pedal, but getting it out of the way increases the net power the driving leg can deliver to the bike’s drivetrain. Basically, your brain has to establish newer and faster pathways to tell your muscles to fire more smoothly and efficiently in order to increase your pedal cadence. This type of adaptation takes repetition and practice to perfect. It takes years of focused and specific training to increase your comfortable riding cadence."
The resulting pedaling forces in the image above are similar to those of almost every rider, except for the magnitude (remember he was the world champion when measured). Remember, Lance's goal was to increase the forces across the top and the bottom (0º and 180º in the above image) You can now compare that image to right and left average (the above shows both right and left forces independently) pedal forces of a PowerCranker comparing forces seen with regular cranks and those seen when riding PowerCranks
Note the forces when riding PowerCranks are increased across the top and the bottom and all negative forces not only are minimized, they disappear. The only reason the pushing forces are decreased is because this was obtained at the same power and cadence. This is exactly what the Carmichael Training Systems newsletter says is the pedaling technique that Lance Armstrong has been concentrating on since 1993 to get stronger. This improved, more efficient,technique allows Lance to pedal at higher cadences and higher power than most of his competitors and it also explains one more thing not mentioned in the newsletter; it explains how he managed to increase his pedaling efficiency 8% from 1993 to 2001. This was documented in the study by Coyle entitled "Improved muscular efficiency displayed as Tour de France champion matures." Improved efficiency is another way to improve power. So, he is not only applying power for a greater portion of the circle he is able to do so using his energy more efficiently. All of these improvements are additive. No wonder Lance Armstrong became so dominant!!! (These two changes, training more muscle mass to be used around more of the pedaling force circle and increasing overall pedaling efficiency - read this PC efficiency study - are the two biggest reasons such large power increases are seen in most users of PowerCranks. So, even though it is possible to achieve these changes without PowerCranks with PowerCranks these changes will come "easier" and and a lot faster than trying to do it by any other way. With PowerCranks the effects of these changes can be seen in weeks to months instead of taking years.)
From this we can take that in order to dominate one has to do more than train hard, one has to also train smart. At least now, with PowerCranks, there is effective help for the cyclist to achieve what Lance achieved. View the video below to better understand what this might mean for your cycling if you learn this technique (the potential is different for almost everyone). PowerCranks helps you to learn this technique so you can ride like Lance. And, if you are a triathlete, PowerCranks will also help your running.
Disclaimer. We do not know if Lance has ever used PowerCranks. We do not even know if Lance has ever heard of PowerCranks (although we would find that surprising). In fact, we can state with some certainty that he was not using them back in 1993 when he started this quest because PowerCranks did not become commercially available until 1998. We do know that many of his training partners (Andreau, Leipheimer, Livingston, others) have used PowerCranks and do use them now but we cannot confirm Lance. It really doesn't matter because, as a result of the CTS Newsletter, we now know how Lance wants to pedal, how he trains to pedal, and this way is almost exactly like how the PowerCranks force the cyclist to pedal. The end point is the same. How soon do you want to get there? Months or years?
I am convinced, take me to the order page.