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Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Body Fit: The Missing Piece of the Puzzle

"The underlying principle of positioning a cyclist on a bicycle is to remember that the bicycle is adjustable, and the cyclist is adaptable." (Burke 1994). This is the underlying principle that drives our fitting protocol at Bespoke. This principle can be applied to many situations. 

If a rider's position is incorrect, the body will adapted to try and interact with the contact points. Often this leads to the body making compromises to make the position work (e.g. dropping the heels to extend the knee when the saddle's too low, flexing the spine to shorten the body on a bike that has too short a cockpit). Every day life can cause the body to adapt in sub optimal ways (e.g. extended periods sitting can cause hip flexors to become short and tight etc.). Adjusting the bike to these adaptations only reinforces these movement patterns and does not challenge the body to change. A bike fit adjusts the bike's contact points but is only 50% of the puzzle as it doesn't alter the learnt movement patterns that have been in-ground over many thousands of pedal revolutions. The body will adapt to new demands that are placed on it, therefore subjecting the body to specific exercises will force it to adapt to biomechanically more efficient movements, increasing power and efficiency while reducing injury risk.  This is where Bespoke's Body Fit sessions step in.

Each Body Fit session is tailored to the riders specific needs. This can incorporate pedalling technique modification, cycling specific posture correction, core or hip stability exercise, release of muscular restrictions, activation and strengthening of inactive muscles. Let's look at a case study:

Stuart came to Bespoke wanting to buy a Pinarello Dogma. The Dogma is an awesome performance machine but the geometries are long and low. Stuart had very tight hip flexors which caused an anterior pelvic tilt. This reduced the range that was available for the leg to come up over the top of the pedal stroke. Stuart's body had adapted to this by rotate his pelvis backwards allowing him to clear the top of the pedal stroke without hitting the end of range. In addition to this, Stuart was very weak in his the extensor muscles in his upper back causing him to slouch on the bike, dropping his body weight through his hands. Finally, Stuart had very poor strength and activation in his glute and was relying on his quads to drive the pedals. All this meant that to achieve a usable position on a Dogma, we needed maximum spacers and a slightly upward pointing stem.

We progressed Stuart through four sessions:
1) Stretches to address the tightness.
2) Activation and strengthening exercises to address the weaknesses and pedalling technique exercises to incorporate the muscles into the pedal stroke.
3) Cycling specific core, hip and ankle stability exercises.
4) Strength and power exercises to produce force at higher velocities.

Stuart's body adapted very well during this process and at a refit, we were able to drop the bars 5.5cm and extend them out nearly 2cm. And all this over just a 4 month period. Stuart is now able to hold a long neutral spine posture comfortably for over 100 miles while producing much more power from the increased glute activation. Stuart is my shining example of what can be achieved when someone follows advice to the letter.

Body Fit sessions take 30 minutes and cost £50. We suggest that at least four sessions are required to make significant changes. Therefore we are offering a buy 3 and get the 4th free offer. For more information or to book a session, contact the shop on 02078370647 or

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have a very bad posture. I believe that good workout is crucial for our spine and posture.