Cyclists frequently use a nonseated posture when accelerating, climbing steep hills, and sprinting; yet, the biomechanical difference between seated and nonseated cycling remains unclear.
This study aimed to test the effects of posture (seated and nonseated) and cadence (70 and 120 rpm) on joint power contributions, effective mechanical advantage, and muscle activations within the leg during very-high-power output cycling.
Fifteen male participants rode on an instrumented ergometer at 50% of their individualized instantaneous maximal power (10.74 ± 1.99 W·kg−1; above the reported threshold for seated to nonseated transition) in different postures (seated and nonseated) and at different cadences (70 and 120 rpm) while leg muscle activity, full-body motion capture, and crank radial and tangential forces were recorded. A scaled, full-body model was used to solve inverse kinematics and inverse dynamics to determine joint displacements and net joint moments. Statistical comparisons were made using a two-way repeated-measures ANOVA (posture–cadence).
There were significant main effects of posture and cadence on joint power contributions. A key finding was that the nonseated posture increased negative power at the knee, with an associated significant decrease of net power at the knee. The contribution of knee power decreased by 15% at both 70 and 120 rpm (~0.8 W·kg−1) when nonseated compared with seated. Subsequently, hip power and ankle power contributions were significantly higher when nonseated compared with seated at both cadences. In both postures, knee power was 9% lower at 120 rpm compared with 70 rpm (~0.4 W·kg−1).
These results evidenced that the contribution of knee joint power to leg power was reduced by switching from a seated to nonseated posture during very-high-power output cycling; however, the size of the reduction is cadence dependent.