We have several conversations with clients about compact cranks that tend to come on new bikes.
Recently we had a strong client at the studio that was loosing a block of time in the bike portion of this Triathlon. After looking at his VO2 max and wattage numbers in spin class, we asked him to bring in his bike, sure enough he was on compact cranks – he was actually spun out during his race! Granted this won’t happen to everyone, but this is a case where to race to his potential compact cranks were holding him back!
There are good reasons for compact cranks, and there is debate for why people should or should not ride them.
The PROBLEM with compact cranks is that too many people use them for too long and then end up relying on the ‘bail-out’ gears more and more on the same hills until they slowly loose strength since they no longer challenge the leg muscles, but rather transfer the workout to the lungs via spinning.
Train your weakness and Race your Strengths! However, the problem with compact cranks is that you ‘CAN’ end up training yourself into muscle weakness. As a racing buddy Kent Bostick used to say, if you don’t race the small chainring, why train in it? This from a guy that at 45, was an alternate for the US cycling Olympic team in 1996.
If you were doing a workout to get stronger, would you add more resistance or would you just do the reps faster – and then expect to be stronger?
During the Spring, I would do my climbing on a grade that did not allow me to spin easily. I would have to mash the cranks to get to the top of this climb, I did this because I know it would make me stronger! It was training. Mashing is something that I avoid during a race or big ride, but when I would start the season, I would make myself mash some hills! Mash now, so You can spin a bigger gear when it counts!
If your training is periodized as it should be, there is time to gain strength & a time to gain speed.
This blog post is not a new one for this site, I wrote about this previously here