Sports Medicine

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 43–63 | Cite as

Energy Expenditure, Aerodynamics and Medical Problems in Cycling

An Update
  • Irvin E. Faria
Review Article


The cyclist’s ability to maintain an extremely high rate of energy expenditure for long durations at a high economy of effort is dependent upon such factors as the individual’s anaerobic threshold, muscle fibre type, muscle myoglobin concentration, muscle capillary density and certain anthropometric dimensions. Although laboratory tests have had some success predicting cycling potential, their validity has yet to be established for trained cyclists. Even in analysing the forces producing propulsive torque, cycling effectiveness cannot be based solely on the orientation of applied forces.

Innovations of shoe and pedal design continue to have a positive influence on the biomechanics of pedalling. Although muscle involvement during a complete pedal revolution may be similar, economical pedalling rate appears to differ significantly between the novice and racing cyclist. This difference emanates, perhaps, from long term adaptation.

Air resistance is by far the greatest retarding force affecting cycling. The aerodynamics of the rider and the bicycle and its components are major contributors to cycling economy. Correct body posture and spacing between riders can significantly enhance speed and efficiency.

Acute and chronic responses to cycling and training are complex. To protect the safety and health of the cyclist there must be close monitoring and cooperation between the cyclist, coach, exercise scientist and physician.


Apply Physiology Lactate Threshold Pedal Rate Trained Cyclist Pedal Force 
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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irvin E. Faria
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Performance Laboratory, Department of Health and Physical EducationCalifornia State UniversityCarmichael, SacramentoUSA

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