Effect of different aerodynamic time trial cycling positions on muscle activation and crank torque

D. M. Fintelman, M. Sterling, H. Hemida, F. X. Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


To reduce air resistance, time trial cyclists and triathletes lower their torso angle. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of lowering time trial torso angle positions on muscle activation patterns and crank torque coordination. It was hypothesized that small torso angles yield a forward shift of the muscle activation timing and crank torque. Twenty-one trained cyclists performed three exercise bouts at 70% maximal aerobic power in a time trial position at three different torso angles (0°, 8°, and 16°) at a fixed cadence of 85rpm. Measurements included surface electromyography, crank torques and gas exchange. A significant increase in crank torque range and forward shift in peak torque timing was found at smaller torso angles. This relates closely with the later onset and duration of the muscle activation found in the gluteus maximus muscle. Torso angle effects were only observed in proximal monoarticular muscles. Moreover, all measured physiological variables (oxygen consumption, breathing frequency, minute ventilation) were significantly increased with lowering torso angle and hence decreased the gross efficiency. The findings provide support for the notion that at a cycling intensity of 70% maximal aerobic power, the aerodynamic gains outweigh the physiological/biomechanical disadvantages in trained cyclists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528–534
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports
Early online date21 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015


  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise
  • Musculo-skeletal
  • Performance
  • Physiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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