Influence of saddle height and exercise intensity on pedalling asymmetries in cyclists

Fernando Diefenthaeler, Joscelito de Oliveira Berneira, Vanderson Luis Moro, Felipe Pivetta Carpes


Pedalling asymmetries quantified during stationary cycling, when cyclist body positioning and intensity remain unchanged, may not fully reproduce the training and competition situations, in which cyclists experience different intensities and may opt for different saddle positioning aiming at power output optimization. Previous studies showed that torque and power can be asymmetric in cyclists. It is not clear whether changes in saddle height and exercise intensity may affect asymmetries. The aim of the present study was to determine pedaling asymmetries during cycling at different saddle heights and different exercise intensities. Twelve competitive cyclists performed an incremental maximal test, a constant-load (“heavy” intensity domain), and a Wingate test. Constant load and the Wingate tests were repeated using three different saddle heights (reference and lower or higher by 2.5% of the distance from the pubic symphysis to the ground). Crank torque was recorded throughout the pedaling cycle. Asymmetry (higher torque for the preferred limb) was found in all saddle heights (p<0.001) in both intensities. Asymmetry index was similar across the saddle positions (p>0.05) in both intensities. Our results suggest that asymmetric cyclists present a consistent pattern regardless of small changes in the saddle height or in exercise intensity. For practical implication, cyclists producing asymmetric torque may be adapted to this condition so they are continuously exposed to asymmetric effort and overload on the lower limbs.


Exercise test; Posture; Cycling; Biomechanics; Injury

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The abbreviated title of the journal is Rev. Bras. Cineantropom. Desempenho Hum, which should be used in bibliographies, footnotes and bibliographical references. E-ISSN 1980-0037, impressa ISSN 1415-8426, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.