Gluteal Activation

How to get “more oomph” into each pedal stroke  

If you have been to any of our indoor cycling classes, you will hear a common phrase that all of our coaches say “engage your glutes!”    Why the gluteals?  They are the largest muscle group in the body and when engaged properly can either add more power or distribute the effort more evenly around.  This can equate to less lactate build up in your quads allowing you to ride with less pain!  
The idea is to engage the “purple section” on the figure to the right.  How do we do this?  


First, it is important to know that the gluteals are muscles that extend.  For cycling this means they are the big “pushers.”  They are not the upstroke muscles.  We prefer to have you “push hard” instead of thinking “pulling up.”  From a muscle size perspective, if you get the big muscles (glutes and quads) more engaged, you move faster and create more power. 

We are not discounting the small upstroke muscles like the hip flexors, but have found that over years of coaching, focusing on the “big guys” leads to greater improvements.

Our tips for gluteal engagement:

1) Proper seat height. If you are too high or too low, you will not be able to get good activation. Bike Fit!  Too low leads to lack of extension and too low leads to toe-pointing and/or hip rocking.

2) Think of “heel drop” on every pedal stroke.  The foot should be close to parallel to the ground at the 6:00 position. Visualize that your heel drops about 1.0-1.5 cm at the bottom of each stroke.