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Use of the Wattbike Cycle Ergometer for Attenuation of Bilateral Pedaling Asymmetry in Trained Cyclists

Kell, David T.; Greer, Beau K.

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 2 - p 468–473
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001495
Original Research

Kell, DT and Greer, BK. Use of the Wattbike cycle ergometer for attenuation of bilateral pedaling asymmetry in trained cyclists. J Strength Cond Res 31(2): 468–473, 2017—Experienced cyclists typically pedal with a 5–20% bilateral asymmetry in regards to power output. The aim of this study was to determine if visual feedback (VF) through the Wattbike cycle ergometer is an effective tool in reducing bilateral pedaling asymmetry in trained cyclists. Twelve subjects completed three 10-minute cycling trials on the Wattbike at a power output consistent with 60% V[Combining Dot Above]O2 peak. The 3 trials consisted of a baseline (BASE) trial in which cyclists pedaled without instruction, a conscious control (CC) trial during which cyclists attempted to pedal symmetrically, and another trial in which cyclists attempted to pedal symmetrically while using VF of their bilateral power outputs (%) through the Wattbike. Although the BASE trial was always performed first, the order of the CC and VF trials was counterbalanced to minimize the influence of the order effect. For the primary analysis, the Asymmetry Index percentages (AI%s) for the 3 trials were not significantly different (p > 0.05). However, secondary analysis of subjects who had baseline AI%s within the normal, reported range showed significantly decreased AI%s during the VF trial as compared with BASE (p ≤ 0.05). These results suggest that cyclists with normal AI%s can pedal more symmetrically while using VF of their asymmetry as opposed to merely attempting conscious correction without feedback. It is currently unknown whether adopting a more bilaterally symmetrical pedaling style will improve cycling performance or decrease injury rates in cyclists.

Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Science, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut

Address correspondence to Beau K. Greer,

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.