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Waite Endurance Forums Equipment How does fore / aft saddle position affect muscle engagement?

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    Jon Sisk

    This is a more road-bike specific question – but I feel when well warmed up, sliding forward onto the nose of the saddle makes pedaling feel a little more natural and direct although it’s certainly less comfortable. I’m coming more from the weight training world so am I “cheating” into a position that lets me recruit a more developed group of muscles and should I be staying farther back in the saddle to shore up those imbalances?

    Cody Waite

    Great question Jon! Thanks for asking.

    Short Answer:
    YES! you are ‘cheating’ yourself a bit.

    Long Answer:
    Scooting forward on the saddle (and moving the seat forward on the seat post) puts you in a more ‘quad-dominant’ pedaling position. Meaning you can push more on the pedals with your quad muscles… which for most folks feel more powerful compared to their glute & hamstring counterparts that get used more when sitting “back” in the saddle.

    For “max power” efforts go ahead and scoot forward to get in that power position. This is common in time-trialing, with track riders, when going hard to make a break or bridge a gap… also when in the drops on the road bike and on the MTB when pushing hard up a steep climb.

    Keep in mind your quads have limited sustainable power by themselves, so the more you can ‘recruit’ your hamstrings & glutes into the pedal stroke the greater muscular endurance you’ll achieve. Focusing on pedaling with a more ‘heel-down’ feeling and pushing forward on the pedal stroke, as opposed to a toe-down pedal stroke will help to engage the bigger glute & hamstring muscles for improved muscular endurance.

    Lastly… pedaling forward on the saddle can lead to issues with knee pain as it can create more shearing force underneath the kneecap (similar to squatting and letting your knees slide forward rather than keeping weight back and in the heels). Some riders are more sensitive than others in this area, but it’s something to be aware of.

    Hope this helps!

    Jon Sisk

    Awesome, thanks for all the info! I always wondered why I could see so much saddle behind pro tour riders when they were really putting the hammer down.

    I did inadvertently try riding “in the back seat” once time when I swapped saddles and didn’t get the bolts tight. The saddle had slid all the way back on the rails and I ended up with some ache in the back of one knee, I assume from my lack of hamstring flexibility.

    At any rate, thanks for the great info. Lots to think about while I’m moving stuff around

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