Saryu Onshi1, Fatemeh Kochackpour1, Bianca A. R. Galletti1, Grant Chesbro1,Rebecca Larson1, & Daniel Larson1

1University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma

Body position is a widely discussed topic in cycling performance, as it is one of the ways to significantly alter aerodynamic drag. A lowered torso angle is often cited as the most optimal position to reduce aerodynamic drag and improve cycling performance, and some researchers have studied the impact of upper body position on mechanical efficiency, muscle activation, and power output. However, there is limited research on the natural shifts in body position in response to different cycling intensities. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate how the stability of the upper body position may change in response to increasing cycling intensities. METHODS: Eleven cyclists (10 males and 1 female) underwent a graded exercise test (GXT) and a VO2max verification protocol using their road bicycles mounted on a Wahoo direct-drive bicycle trainer. The GXT started at 1 watt per kilogram of body weight and increased by 0.5 watts per gram of body weight every 3 minutes until failure. Body movement was continuously monitored using three LEOMO motion sensors placed on the head, chest, and lower back and the mean angle and coefficient of variance were calculated for each completed stage for data analysis. Following the GXT, participants observed a 20-minute recovery period before undertaking a ramp protocol with expired gas measurement. RESULTS: The subjects (age: 42 ± 15 yrs) had varying levels of cycling experience (4.9 ± 4.8 yrs) and reported cycling for an average of 7.6 ± 3.3 hrs per week (VO2max values of 53.6 ± 5.7 ml/kg/min). Correlation analysis showed low but statistically significant correlations between cycling intensity and head angle variation (R = 0.23, p = 0.04), torso angle variation (R= 0.43, p < 0.01), and pelvis angle variation (R= 0.34, p = 0.02). CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate a small but statistically significant positive relationship between cycling intensity and body angle variation, suggesting that increased body angle variation may be associated with increased cycling intensity. This is important because aerodynamics is greatly influenced by frontal surface area, which in turn, is dictated by the angle of the body. Further studies should investigate the practical impact of this increased body position variability when cycling at higher intensities.

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