SUPERIOR CYCLISTS MOVE BETTER AND MORE EFFICIENTLY
Chapman, A., Vincenzino, B., Blanch, P., & Hodges, P. (2004). Do muscle recruitment patterns differ between trained and novice cyclists? Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36(5),
"Measures of performance, cycling efficiency, and preferred cadence differ between trained and novice cyclists. On this basis, it has long been assumed that trained cyclists utilize more refined patterns of muscle recruitment than novice cyclists. However, there is little evidence to support this assumption. Measures of performance, efficiency, and cadence are not specific to the neuromuscular system, and previous electromyographic (EMG) studies have been limited by insensitive methodology and have only reported comparisons of individual cyclists" (p. S169). This study determined if patterns of distal lower limb muscle recruitment differed between trained and novice cyclists. Trained (N = 7) and novice (N = 8) cyclists served as Ss. Electromyographic activity in the tibialis anterior, tibialis posterior, peroneus longus, gastrocnemius lateralis, and soleus muscles was recorded. Cycling trials were conducted on each S's bike secured on a magnetic trainer, using the S's shoes and clipless pedal system. Recordings were made at cadences of 77.5 rpm. Cycling intensity was standardized using perceived exertion.
Differences were observed between trained and novice cyclists in recruitment patterns for all muscles. Novice cyclists were characterized by greater variation in patterns of muscle recruitment between cyclists and between pedal strokes for individual cyclists, greater and more variable muscle co-activation, and less modulation of muscle activity, i.e. in novice cyclists, the relative amplitude of EMG was higher in periods between primary EMG bursts.
Implication Trained cyclists use more refined patterns of muscle recruitment than novice cyclists. These differences are most likely the result of repeated performance of the motor task in training and competition, and subsequent adaptation of the neuromuscular system.
[THIS STUDY SUPPORTS THE CONTENTION THAT NO MATTER WHAT THE SPORT, SUPERIOR PERFORMERS DISPLAY GREATER NEUROMUSCULAR SKILL THAN LESSER PERFORMERS. THIS ALSO SUGGESTS THAT IT IS ATTENTION TO SKILL DEVELOPMENT THAT WILL IMPROVE PERFORMANCE MOST RAPIDLY. OTHER FORMS OF TRAINING ARE TANGENTIAL TO THIS COACHING DIRECTIVE. REFINED MOTOR SKILLS CAN ONLY BE DEVELOPED BY SPECIFIC NEUROMUSCULAR PATTERNING, NOT AUXILIARY ACTIVITIES.]
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