Boost power the easy way
When it comes to going fast we search for many ways to do it. While more training, more strength and great they should be accompanied by boosting power transfer. After all what's the point of increasing your power without maximising how much of it you can get into pushing you down the road.
100% of your power that drives you and you bike forwrad goes through your feet. Power transfer is all about your feet
What happens to the power when you push it to your feet? Well it interfaces inside the shoe at which point the stability, strength and control of the foot/insole determines how much of that power is transferred into forward motion of the bike. Mostly we see power leakage, feet collapse, feet wobble, knees move - there is leakage of power in every pedal stroke and often extra energy is required ti control the extra movements. So the more you put the foot down, the greater the proportion of power leakage.
5 ways to boost your power transfer
1. Custom insoles
Custom insoles that reflect your foot shape and also provide capacity for energy return (ie not solid that absorb load), provide a bigger surface area to distribute and control power and will also give you a little bit of extra energy return. By getting a custom reflective insole, the interface is an exact match for your foot - generic insoles can give some improvement but most only come in three available profiles and don't provide a mechanism for energy return. Imagine if there was only three options of bike position available or three sizes of shoes - you would not find a great position or comfort and the same applies to insoles. Get the insole to match your foot.
2. Stronger feet
Really all that training, effort, guidance, carbon shoes etc and you've never once done any foot strengthening exercises? In fact do you know how well your feet function? Can you spread your toes easily, can you lift them independantly. Have you strengthened your arch. All of the muscles in your feet are as trainable as the muscles in the rest of your body. Feet also fatigue like every other muscle, so if its the most undertrained part of your body, its also going to fatigue the fastest which means an even great loss of power transfer. Funny how athletes train more and in a way that over powers their feet. A foot assessment and some exercises to increase foot strength from a sports physio will make a huge difference and it's not just about calf raises. You can actually increase the height of your arch for a stronger and stiffer power transfer with specific foot training. Dancers spend plety of time on foot eercises as they know the value of power transfer. Maybe its time to get that bit of extra help with a sports physio and get some performance therapy happening.
Feet function differently when loaded and some simple wedging can assist with foot control that help align the power coming into the shoe. When we incorporate wedging we do so for the alignment and ideally we like riders to strengthen their feet with the aim that over time better foot strength and pedal technique reduces the reliance on wedging as alignment is corrected and natural transfer is improved. Wedging its great but aim for it to be short term rather than the lazy set and forget approach to their use.
4. Stiffer shoes
Once you have the foot itself transferring and controlling loads better the next step is stiffer shoes. You can get shoes first, but you'll experience a bigger difference if you work on your feet first. Stiffer shoes first can result in some power transfer and foot challenges such as numbness as stiff shoes means more load being taken by the foot. When it comes to selecting a shoe you should be able to complete all normal foot functions such as lifting and spreading toes. Stiffness should never come at the expense of foot function. They do make a huge differnce in power transfer.
5. Pedal and cleat
Pedals and cleats suffer the same wear and tear as your chain. - Once the power goes through the feet and the shoes you want to keep the momentum running and reduce energy loss in work cleats and pedal. As pedals and cleats wear the tolerances in bearings and surfaces increases mean sloppiness. The extra play in worn pedals and cleats reduces power transfer and your body will have to work harder to stabilise the foot and keep it in position - so more energy and less transfer resulting in faster fatigue. We see plenty of hamstring issues related to worn pedals and cleats and these can be easily avoided. If you have hamstring challenges it might be your power transfer.
Opportunity awaits to quickly boost your power transfer and speed without the need for extra hours in the saddle. The bang for you buck on value is igher investing in these areas and while you won't get bragging rights on your insole alone at the coffee shop, you will get noticed when you get to the coffee shop faster on your same bike! If you are going to spend the time and invenstment into equipment that is better and training to make your stronger then if you want to capitalise on that investment invest some time and money strengthening your body to boost your power transfer.
Book a physio appoinment for better foot strength and control
Book a bike fit and we can improve your power transfer and more
Check out some new shoes or bring in you old ones for a check