How many repetitions?

Footbiker picPerhaps the basic footbike move is the foot-switch. Civilians who get it may ask, when the first see a performance scooter: How often do you switch feet? It’s a necessary move: the standing and kicking legs get healthy workouts, but of different muscles. If you never switched feet, before long, off the scooter, you’d be walking in circles.

When I got my first scoot, I tended to switch every five kicks, as I like the number 5. Racers in competition seem to kick many more times before switching, maybe because they’re striving to not get dropped. But in training, anything goes. In the famous YouTube vid Kickbike Hammer Fest, the three scooter champs range from three to eight repetitions, apparently at random: maybe it’s a bit of footbike fartlek, which does keep things interesting.

I’ve been experimenting with longer intervals; yesterday during a five-miler I switched legs every nine kicks. It may have conserved some energy and momentum, but I’m at the point where I always feel good after a ride, and that didn’t change. In my bicycle-racing days I kept a diary including time spent and distance covered, pedal cadence and my weight. Something like that, but substituting kick reps for pedal cadence, might be useful for those interested in fitness results.

When I’m kicking into the wind or up a hill I decrease the number of reps per the prevailing wisdom; it’s counterintuitive to me (going up a hill, it seemed to me that momentum would be lost with each foot-change), but it works:

When the road begins to ascend, the kicksled* slows down remarkably between the kicks. You feel the terrain contours clearly while kicking, although the velocity might not change drastically. Don’t push too hard, it’s better to adapt uphill technique.

Increase the frequency and shorten the kicks. Change the pendulum-like kick into a rotating one. With the knee slightly bent you can bring your foot quickly to the front ready for a new kick. In the kicking phase, however, try to keep your knees straight avoiding the up-down pumping motion.

*Most of the page quoted above has to do with kicksledding, but it’s directly applicable to scooting.

The legs do seem to stay fresher that way, and on the steepest hills there’s really no momentum to conserve anyway. NB: I’m not training for competition; I scoot for transportation, general fitness and fun.

This page about weight-training repetitions (and some general exercise guidelines) from the American College of Sports Medicine might be worth a look.

Soundtrack: How Many More Times


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