Influence of course type on upper body muscle activity in elite Cross-Country and Downhill mountain bikers during off Road Downhill Cycling

Howard Thomas Hurst, Mikael Swarén, Kim Hébert-Losier, Fredrik Ericsson, Jonathan Sinclair, Stephen Atkins, Hans-Christer Holmberg

Abstract


This study aimed to investigate upper body muscle activity using surface electromyography (sEMG) in elite cross-country (XCO) and downhill (DH) cyclists during off road descending and the influence of man-made (MM) and natural terrain (NT) descents on muscle activity. Twelve male elite mountain bikers (n=6 XCO; age 23 ± 4 yrs; stature 180.5 ± 5.6 cm; body mass 70.0 ± 6.4 kg and n=6 DH; age 20 ± 2 yrs; stature 178.8 ± 3.1 cm; body mass 75.0 ± 3.0 kg) took part in this study. sEMG were recorded from the left biceps brachii, triceps brachii, latissimus dorsi and brachioradialis muscles and expressed as a percentage of maximal voluntary isometric contraction (% MVIC). Both groups performed single runs on different MM and NT courses specific to their cycling modality. Significant differences in mean % MVIC were found between biceps brachii and triceps brachii (p=.016) and triceps brachii and latissimus dorsi (p=.046) during MM descents and between biceps brachii and triceps brachii (p=.008) and triceps brachii and latissimus dorsi (p=.031) during NT descents within the DH group. Significant differences in mean % MVIC were found between biceps brachii and brachioradialis (p=.022) for MM runs and between biceps brachii and brachioradialis (p=.013) for NT runs within the XCO group. Upper body muscle activity differs according to the type of downhill terrain, and appears to be specific to DH and XCO riders. Therefore, the discipline specific impact on muscle activation and the type of course terrain ridden should be considered when mountain bikers engage in upper body conditioning programmes.

Keywords


cycling; mountain biking; downhill; surface EMG; performance

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.28985/jsc.v1i2.20

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