Other Subject Area

biomechanics and exercise physiology


International Journal of Exercise Science 14(1): 1123-1137, 2021. Novice endurance athletes utilize slower movements and smaller ranges of motion compared to trained endurance athletes. Novice cyclists have been shown to follow this paradigm via the use of slower cadences but may further benefit by utilizing shorter crank lengths to affect speed of movement and range of motion. The purpose of the study was to determine the impact of shorter than traditional crank lengths on the physiological response and performance of novice cyclists exercising at 60% of VO2peak. A total of 14 male novice cyclists (25.9 ± 6.9 yrs.) participated in the study. Participants completed an incremental cycle test to determine VO2peak. Experimental trials consisted of 30 min cycling bouts at 60% of VO2peak; one session using a traditional crank length (175 mm), the other used a short crank length (145 mm). Experimental trials were randomized. Repeated Measures ANOVAs were used to compare power output, cycling economy, RER, VE, HR, RPE, pedal speed and cadence between crank length conditions. Power output (p = 0.002) and cycling economy (p = 0.002) were significantly higher at all time points during the short crank length condition. Pedal speed (p = 0.001) was significantly lower at all time points during the short crank length condition. Novice cyclists were able to ride with improved economy and higher power output while using short crank lengths. These improvements may be related to the slower pedal speeds, slower muscle contraction velocities and more extended hip and knee joints that a short crank length affords.