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Power Crankin- Jasper Blake

“Power Crankin”

There are many inventions that have hit the triathlon world over the years.  To be quite blunt, we are a sport of gadgets and gismos; to the point where you might call it a culture of “geekiness”.  I’ve seen a great deal of crap in the past ten years, things that honestly make me wonder if people really want to work hard for what they get or simply think buying the latest thing will make them go faster but perhaps that is the purest in me.

Occasionally there is a product that comes along that catches on for the right reasons.  PowerCranks are one such product.  Founded and developed by an engineering wiz Frank Day, PowerCranks offer a great way to develop your pedaling stroke.

The basic premise of a PowerCrank is that each crank arm operates independently on a one way clutch.  As a result, you can quite literally pedal with the crank arms at any opposing angle from 180 to 0 degrees of separation.  The result is that your legs cannot support each other and must work independently.

Single leg drills have been around for years as a way to develop leg strength and coordination equally on both legs.  I can remember some crazy single leg sets that one of my coaches used to prescribe.  It was a set of 6*12 minutes per leg on the trainer in the winter.  Those were some long trainer sessions but certainly improved my pedal stroke.  The only catch was the state of discomfort this caused.  Riding on a trainer can be bad enough on the mid section but doing it single legged is another level of awfulness.  PowerCranks allow you to achieve the same benefit if not better because you can sit properly on your saddle and pedal normally.

PowerCranks are a tool that can make an hour trainer session more productive.  I am fortunate to work, on occasion, with one of Canada’s top cycling coaches in Victoria and he believes PowerCranks are one of the best tools for learning a proper pedaling technique.  If you use them properly different parts of the pedaling circle will be emphasized.

Like every great training tool, there are some things you should keep in mind if you decide to integrate PowerCranks into your training.  The first is to integrate PowerCranks slowly.  Overdoing any new exercise can lead to injuries.  I would suggest consulting with a coach who is familiar with PowerCranks to help you implement them into your program properly.  I would also keep in mind that cadence, not necessarily power, is what you might struggle with initially.  PowerCranks are easier at lower cadences so make a point of starting low and building up to normal cadence as you get better.  Finally, PowerCranks will help you understand and develop a good pedal stroke with appropriate pressure in each quadrant.  Contrary to popular belief, a perfect circle with equal pressure at every degree is not ideal.  If you try to do this with PowerCranks you won’t last long because the smaller muscles in your hips and legs will have a difficult time keeping pace with your larger muscles that operate the push phase.

Integrating a new tool can be both challenging and stimulating, especially in the winter months when trainer rides might require some spicing up.  PowerCranks are a great way to add some spice.