Unlike my indoor training, where I just flop all over the place from exhaustion, , I am very cognizant of keeping my upper body still when riding outside as I understood that this was an efficient way to ride. I believe that there is reference to this goal in “Elements of Style” but watching the Giro I was impressed by Mauri Vansevenant of Quick-Step-Alpha Vinyl who was constantly up and down and looking like he was fighting with the bike. Years ago I remember watching a Giro stage where a Russian rider and a Frenchman had gotten away. Paul Sherwen said something about how beautiful and still the Frenchman was and how terrible the style of the Russian looked but Phil Liggett pointed out that they were going the same speed. Does upper body movement really make that much of a difference? I am not changing my style but am curious what coaches have to say about this.
There’s at least an argument that any movement is using energy, combined with the fact you’re also likely less aero, so while you may be going the same speed even if all other factors were equal you would almost certainly be using more energy, which is going to have an effect at some point.
Is it critical to remain still? No. Is it more efficient to do so? Almost certainly.
Depending on your goals, stillness might be critical.
If you are in a race, or a timed, long endurance event, for example, you might need all your energy to achieve your goal.
Very often gifted athletes have what looks l like poor form, but it is actually optimized to their unique abilities. On the other hand, some athletes are great in spite of their poor form.
Well, yes. I was applying that last sentence to us, the SYSTM/SUF public who are mostly training for our own purposes, but you’re right
You can expend needless energy trying to keep artificially still while pedaling too. IMO, there is a smooth fluid natural motion that you can develop and work toward that minimizes superfluous motions and energy expenditure. This is pretty much what I work at on the road bike, mtb, or trainer and try to maintain even when fatigued.
Might sound strange, but I believe facial expressions can have an impact too. It is said forcing a smile can improve your mood. On the flip side, grimacing during hard efforts can make them seem harder (and also signal your competition that you’re in trouble). I always try to maintain a some what pleasant, or at least neutral, expression with relaxed facial muscles. Same goes for other things that can negatively reinforce the feelings of “suffering”, like gripping the bars too tightly, or tensing muscles that don’t need to be tensed.
Even for myself, I have found the instructions in Elements of Style to be very useful in generating more power when I need to, such as on extended climbs. I believe that some people on the forum do race.
Smiling can help, I believe they discuss this in Recharger. To be clear, stillness does not mean stiffness. As you say, everybody has their own, so to speak, natural rhythm of movement. It is just that most of us do not have even that. Many of the things you discuss are talked about in Elements of Style.
@Heretic Tapers has a good overview of controlled exhale and also avoiding pain face.
For me, I have been rather still on the bike thanks to riding on the rollers for the 3 years and it definitely helps. The only time stillness doesn’t apply is when doing high cadence work especially Cadence Builds.
Generally, on climbs being still on the bike feels more comfortable and more in control and it also helps to to not tense up the muscles.
@SirLeslieinCanada, I would certainly advise to not waste energy with excessive motion nor efficiency with movement in the sagittal plane. That being said, with extreme energy outputs, like a 5 seconds max sprint, there will likely be some extra movement and side to side motion. When trying to be as fast as possible you will want to consider the trade-offs of aerodynamics and efficiency in regard to your ability to put out and sustain power. I would recommend diving into “By the Numbers: What is Vo2 Max?” for a more in depth look at all the factors at play.
Also being the stillness intimidates your rivals more as it looks effortless, and we all love to crush our competition whether that’s in races or simple training rides.
100% agree smiling changes everything. It’s hard not to being on the bike, though…