|Posted on April 2, 2015 at 2:10 PM|
I went to an indoor cycling class yesterday and after the class I overheard a class member ask the instructor why and what she should do about her quads fatiguing so quickly on a bike climb or sprint. This can be due to many reasons. It can be due to having over-fatigued legs from an activity the day before or day of the class. It can be due to one’s diet; having eaten something inflammatory (dairy, beer, or anything one might be sensitive to) or not eating enough (protein after the last workout or working-out without having eaten that day). It can also be due to lack of sleep. However, what is often overlooked is that when she rides, she is overemphasizing her quad work (the push down) more than her hamstring work (the pull up).
In fact, many cyclists have overdeveloped quadriceps muscles and weak hamstrings, a classic problem that is a result of pedaling. Even off the bike, those powerful quads pull the hips forward and down, and the weaker hamstrings can't pull back enough. This leads to overly fatigued quads, restricting the workout, but more importantly it leads to poor posture and weak lower-back and abdominal muscles. On the bike, it translates into a loss of power due to fatigue, and a greater chance of back pain, even injury.
The hamstring link is key. The tendency is to muscle through a ride with your quads. A few easy tips are to first, bike with cycling shoes, and second, when cycling, make sure to dig your heals in and pull up with the pedals, providing a more well rounded revolution. This will help to engage the hamstrings and recruit core power to ride faster. So make sure your hamstrings are strong and/or flexible enough to really get their full use so that you can ride faster and reduce your quad pain!