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Cycling Basics: Part 2 by Brian MacKenzie and Doug Katona - CrossFit Journal

Cycling Basics: Part 2

By Brian MacKenzie and Doug Katona

In Coaching, CrossFit Endurance, Videos

August 22, 2011

Video Article

In this new series, Brian MacKenzie and Doug Katona of CrossFit Endurance share tips for improving your cycling performance. Using a Wattbike, the two are able to collect data on cycling performance and improve technique. Today’s goal is improving posture while cycling.

While many cyclists adopt a flexed spine while biking, MacKenzie says they’re shortchanging their anatomy. Cyclists in that posture “don’t have the ability to utilize everything in this hip complex the way it’s supposed to be utilized,” he says.

After a time trial using Katona’s relaxed posture, MacKenzie adjusts the bike “to lengthen him out a little bit.” With improved posture, Katona is able to improve his wattage.

“A lot of people think that cycling is a quad-dominant or anterior-dominant sport,” Katona says. “If a lot of cyclists did a lot more deadlift, box squat, a lot more squatting to fire that posterior chain, they’d find that they actually unload a little bit off that quad, use more glute, use more hamstring, which is going to generate more power and efficiency.”

8min 39sec

Video by Again Faster.

Additional reading: Where Is Your Body Weight? The Key to Efficient Movement by Michael Collins, published Jan. 1, 2008.

Free Download


14 Comments on “Cycling Basics: Part 2”


wrote …

Phenomenal as always! I have just begun cycling again after a 15-year hiatus (tri coming up, thanks CF!). I have really been experimenting with that after prior years of quad-dominant cycling in flexion. The power difference and lack of fatigue with that midline stabilization and maintaining proper spinal curves is amazing! Thanks for confirming!!!
BTW Brian your flag is backwards on your garage wall. Not to be a pest, but it's supposed to be hung with the stars on the upper left, bro...


wrote …

Great follow-up. Keep 'em coming.


wrote …


What are your thoughts on Dr. Romanov's Pose for cycling? He seems to be very fond on Lance Armstrong's set-up, technique, and efficiency.

Good info. I used to use a technique that would produce a similar effect; settle onto the back of the saddle on climbs to engage posterior chain. I have noticed since starting CrossFit that I am more efficient with mid line stabilization.


wrote …

Great! I'll work on this on my next ride. I'm so happy to see this.

How does this effect hand pressure? I have an issue of discomfort from too much pressure against my hands. Any recommendations?


wrote …

When I follow Doug's fit advice, I do feel a little cramped so I was glad to see Brian suggest we lengthen out. That's more comfortable for me and gives more room for hip turnover. But the result is I'm a little back of where Doug's plumb line would have me. I suppose the ultimate answer is moving the bars forward but that probably means a new bike.

Is it better to cheat on the plumb line rule to get more length?


replied to comment from Neil Trenholm


perhaps a longer stem would suffice.


wrote …

I can't wait to put this techniques into place. I find that when I go on longer rides with my mnt bike and have done a significant amount of climbing, my hands get numb and my feet get numb and tingling. I hope these techniques will change that.


wrote …

This was great to see. My lower back quickly aches with any climbing on my mtb, so I checked my fit for both bikes:

mtb issue 1: the plumb line was way forward of the spindle
mtb issue 2: my knee was still bent when my heal was on pedal

rb issue: my hip had to rotate to allow my heal to reach the pedal

Looking forward to applying these ideas and see how it goes - man I would love one of those wattbikes!


replied to comment from Michael Bishop

Glad to hear you made adjustments! Let us know if we can help you further!


wrote …

does any of the fitting change for a tt bike? your reach is much further and your hip much more closed while in aero bars


replied to comment from Dan Gaucher

The saddle ht on a tt bike does not change, the position of the rider does. A tt bike has different angles v. a road bike (more vertical). Integrity of midline and low back mobility is key to maintain the integrity of posture.


wrote …

Pelvic tilt..Different name for the same principal. Fairly noticeable difference while climbing, it's easier to feel climbing as the cadences are generally slower and any torso movement is reduced. Funny Doug, I came to the dead lift/tilt relationship in our conversation awhile back, and then there is Brian making the same comparison. Perhaps I'm watching too many youtube videos. nice work


wrote …

In review, my comments seem to imply that I came up with the idea.(dead lift/pelvic tilt relationship) Not the case, I was just stating my epiphany which was only confirmed when I saw the video.


wrote …

The principals in this video make perfect sense. I just started applying them on my last couple rides and notice a significant increase in power at the pedals but also an increase in hip flexor strain. Is this something I just need to strengthen or is my fit geometry off with the change in posture?

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