Calf muscles - is it worth working on them?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by Bigbananabike, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. cbjesseeNH

    cbjesseeNH New Member

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    Gotta say, when I work on 1-leg drills, that any instability in my knees seems magified. Any quad strain stands out and a kneecap tracking issue is pretty ovbious (although maybe they were not designed to track pulling up).

    I'm thinking of what I do that mimics pulling up on a pedal and only come to snowshoeing in deep snow, wherein I'm lifting foot weight with my leg.

    Nothing in the weight room seems to parallel the upstroke on a bike pedal. If there are any off-the-bike exercises that help, let me know.
     


  2. whoawhoa

    whoawhoa New Member

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    Why do you think you need to train it off-bike?
     
  3. Cat1RDR

    Cat1RDR New Member

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    What I get from this is that calves would help in the upstroke. If they flex the knee at the knee joint then they would help in the upstroke. In the upstroke the leg is being flexed at the knee joint and therefore the calf is helping in this. Sit on your bike with one foot clipped in. Put that foot in a any position where the pedal is being pulled back or up and then pull up or back while your hand is on the brake. Look at that calf, is it contracted?

    The calf also stabilizes in the down-stroke and I believe there was no dispute about this...

    So to go back to the very first question of the thread, "Calf muscles - is it worth working on them?" If they are a weak part in your leg or you are working on other parts of your leg, why not work on them? It can only help in strengthening your stroke.

    As a final note to n crowley...

    I would highly doubt that he is free-wheeling, that is not a typical position for your legs to be in when cornering unless you are a newbie (also his chain appears to be in tension).

    What muscles do I have mixed up? I have said that hip flexor pulls the leg up. I have said that calf pulls back and up. When I say up I am talking in terms of a pedal stroke. The up in a pedal stroke is when your foot and lower leg are coming closer to your butt. The calf aids in this by pulling your lower leg up at the knee and pulling it back near the bottom of the stroke. If you think I have the calf confused with the tibialis anterior you are wrong. the pulls your foot up and cycling is not in the feet, it's in the legs.

    Finally why must you be such a cycling snob? "t is also obvious from an earlier post of yours that you cannot distinguish between the objectives of rotorcranks and powercranks." First of all you are completely condescending. And I apologize for confusing the name on obscure cycling products. You still seemed to know what I getting at and that was not the best way to correct me. I'm sure a simple, "Did you mean powercranks?" would have sufficed.



    "Like said above, calf muscles are used in the upstroke. If they dont develop over the season or with training then your stroke is not being as efficient as possible. If you aren't using your calfs then you are losing lots of power and tiring out your other muscles quicker."
     
  4. AmpedCycle

    AmpedCycle New Member

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    When you guys talk about stabilizing the ankle on the downstroke, you've got to think about the forces being applied on the foot, which happens to be where power is transmitted to the pedal. Since the gastrocnemius (calf muscles) act as foot extensors, basically, and as knee flexors... then one of the forces in the upper range of the pedal stroke (12 to 3 o'clock) would have an effect on the calves, too, since the foot/ankle must be stabilized to exert pressure onto the pedal. If you thought about it in terms of a calf flex that doesn't move the foot, you'd be talking about what's called an "isometric contraction," which is defined as: 'a muscle contraction in which tension on the muscle increases, but there is only minimal muscle shortening (contraction) so that no visible mocement is produced.'

    I'm no anatomist or physiologist, but the mechanics seem to be explainable through thinking about muscle contraction in terms of producing movement. I've got a great diagram I wish I could post on here that shows which muscles are activated/contracting during pedalstroke... but it's not a hyperlink.
     
  5. zaskar

    zaskar New Member

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    Do you only have one leg? if you have two, what is the purpose?
     
  6. AmpedCycle

    AmpedCycle New Member

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    You guys have also go tto ocnsider the differences in body types, specifically in relation to the appearance of muscle mass. Ever notice that shroter guys look "buffer" than taller guys? Or that Yao ming is skinny looking while Shaq looks huge? By the way, I've seen people who look really thin lift more than people who look big. There's also the difference in muscle fibers to think about: slow-twitch vs fast twitch and their respective size differences due to activity specficity.
     
  7. frenchyge

    frenchyge New Member

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    That's what keeps me away from the track. I'm allergic to imploding. :p
     
  8. Billsworld

    Billsworld New Member

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    I agree with that but....I have heard the lower leg is responsable for obout 30-35% of jumping power. My guess is that number can vary alot too. If thats the case, a great leaper would not always be a good sprint cyclist....Got to the track on vaca. No times to report, but got the hang of the 200(sort of) T town april 1st
     
  9. Orange Fish

    Orange Fish New Member

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    That seems to sum it up. Looking at the original title to the post, "Calf Muscles - is it worth working on them?" what can we say now?

    What we know so far:
    The Gastroc. (calf muscle) in an open kinetic chain serves to primarily plantar flex the foot and secondly assist in knee flexion. However, in a closed kinetic chain movement (such as cycling) the Gastroc. will actually help in knee extension (during the downstroke). So during the downstroke, yes, it will contract (whether it be isometrically or concentrically) to stabilize the ankle (along with the tibialis anterior and smaller musculature of the lower leg both anteriorly and posteriorly) or to help in those riders who practice "ankling."

    In the upstroke, it will not really assist in that actual upward motion because pedaling is a closed kinetic chain movement, but it can help in this movement. Because we are looking to stabilize the ankle as well, and not allow it to plantar flex as we move the rear foot upward, the Gastroc. will be somewhat involved again for a stabilization-type of role.

    This musculature is actively involved in some or all parts of the pedal stroke. It serves to stabilize and/or plantar flex - whatever it may be that the cyclist decides to do, and exactly how this cyclist pedals does not matter right now.

    Joint stability is important for many sports. A stable joint is a strong joint, so yes, stabilizing the ankle is probably fairly important during the upstroke and downstroke. How much do we have to train this muscle outside of simply pedaling our bike has yet to be determined.

    What I conclude from this is that in untrained or less-trained cyclists who may have poor form or low stability of the ankle joint, stabilization training off the bike may be of benefit. In well-trained cyclists who have a pretty efficient pedaling style, training the actual calf musculature would not seem to provide any additional benefits in power production or efficiency.

    Any other ideas or thoughts?
     
  10. AmpedCycle

    AmpedCycle New Member

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    I think that training the calf, and only the calf, would not result in as much cycling specific gain as someone might think. The reason is that there are synergist and antagonist muscles providing support and backup to the primary muscles involved in a movement. Ever see the cartoon where the little character attaches a fishing hook to the back of his shirt and then starts cranking the fishing pole and he lifts himself off the ground? It's the same principle, to a certain point
     
  11. velomanct

    velomanct New Member

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    If I were to ride flat pedals or even straps, I would be a LOT slower, especially when sprinting.

    Example. I am about to do a sprint, where I will jump heading into an uphill left corner. There is a crack in the pavement in the turn. Just when I am at peak power ( in the middle of the corner) my back end of the bike flys out to the right, I am manage to keep it upright but my sprint is over. Why did my back end shoot out to the right? Because the back tire hit the crack in the pavement during the upstroke where I was pulling up hard on the pedal.

    Okay I just realized I didn't need to tell that whole story. (maybe I just like talking about myself)
    There shouldn't be any disagreement with cyclists applying pressure on the upstroke. And yes, we use our calf muscles too.....oh I got another example. It was even on the same day as my first example!
    It was a rare case, but I got a cramp in my calf muscle during an uphill sprint.

    BUT, I wouldn't be doing calf raises to improve my cycling, at all. Waste of time. Don't bother with any resistence training other than core strength. If you want to build your strength, do it in a useful way - hill sprints.

    Train on the bike to be a faster rider.
     
  12. WarrenG

    WarrenG New Member

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    You are not allergic. You are sensible.


    A guy who won the kilo at Masters Nat's told me he looks forward to the pain. When he's on the start line he's saying, "Bring on the pain."

    I think some of us have poor memory because if we could remember how much some of these events hurt we would not do them again. Would you let a dentist hurt you that much?
     
  13. WarrenG

    WarrenG New Member

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    Cool! T-Town is nice.

    Gearing, when to jump, how hard to jump, how hard to go after the initial jump, when to start down the banking, different tracks need adjustments... Good if you can get somebody who knows what they're doing to watch you do them. Video is really helpful.
     
  14. velomanct

    velomanct New Member

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    The mind is very strong if used properly. People can convince themself of something, and it becomes a self-fufilling prophecy. So if a rider can convince themself that they enjoy the pain of kilo that much, it makes a HUGE difference in how hard they can push themself.

    IMO, the right mindset is neccessary for such competition.
     
  15. velomanct

    velomanct New Member

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    I only been to T-town once. It's easily 10 times more fun to sprint on a track than on a flat road. I wish I knew how fast I was going during those sprints.

    Right now I am looking at colleges to transfer to next year. I just decided that I must be within 10 miles of a velodrome :)
     
  16. n crowley

    n crowley New Member

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    Sorry about that but pedalling and equipment can be very confusing. The inventor of Powercranks now admits that the advantage they have to offer comes from training muscles for an early and total unweighting effect and not from training them to pull up during the upstroke.
     
  17. Billsworld

    Billsworld New Member

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    Rode with an elite Jr in Fla. By the time he got ther I was out of gas, but he showed me some basics. I followed him for a few sprints. ..................As far as training calvs. The basic rule of thumb for endurance riders is that weight training is not needed to increase performance, becuase most people have enough strength to handle the demands of cycling. The subject of weight training has been done to death on this forum, but the question about cavs specificly is a little different. Are the cavs different than the quads or hams in the need to train them. Is the force on the cave unusually higher than the force placed on the thighs that would make training them with weights benificial. I suggest we send Frenchi to see Mr. Wizzard (AC):)
     
  18. Meek One

    Meek One New Member

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    I've 'heard' that big, strong calves are only good for standing starts otherwise they're just wind drag.
     
  19. donrhummy

    donrhummy New Member

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    I'm sorry, but I believe that's impossible. The calf muscles do only one thing: they enable pointing your foot (i.e. pulling the toes downward). Pulling up on the upstroke would use your shin muscles, not the calf.

    From what I've read (and my own experience), if your calf muscles aren't being worked, it means you're pointing your toes during the pedal stroke. you need to lower your heels throughout the pedal stroke and you'll feel the calf muscle working. (This is because when the foot is pointed, the calf muscle does not need to be engaged to create downward pressure, but if the heel is down, the calf will need to contract to hold the foot horizontal to the ground and not allow it to be pushed upward)
     
  20. Cat1RDR

    Cat1RDR New Member

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    You are wrong, quoted from AmpedCycle, "What calf muscles do is push the foot down and flex the knee! For christs sakes' it's not that hard. As quoted from an anatomy book, "Gastorcnemius (calf muscles): plantar flexes foot at ankle joint and flexes leg at knee joint."
    "Hamstrings- flexes leg at knee joint and extends thigh at hip joint."

    This thread has been officially beaten to death, let's end it.
     
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