In 1989, an anthropometric analysis was conducted on 35 elite male Australian track cyclists having a mean age of 22.6 years and who had been competing on average for 9 years. The relationship of anthropometric parameters to both bicycle saddle height and cycling performance was also investigated. Subjects were allocated, for purposes of comparison, to an endurance or sprint group on the basis of their competitive event. This study then went on to be used as a starting point in lectures for anthropometrics in athletes in many universities with majors in sports physiology and therapy.
Interested with the results? Needless to say, the implications were unfortunately not that important, as another study revealed that the anthropometrics had minimal effect on the performance of the cyclist. Further studies revealed that more than a dozen other factors could contribute to the performance of the track cyclist.
In the said study, subjects were allocated to an endurance or sprint group on the basis of their competitive event. The following were the results:
1) The group members in total were ectomorphic mesomorphs of height 178±4.8 cm and weight 72.5 ±6.6 kg on average.
2) Percentage of saddle height to lower limb length averaged 99±1.6%, and significant correlations existed between strength and both body mass (r=0.57) and thigh girth (r = 0.55).
3) No significant correlation was seen between any anthropometric parameter and performance in an individual event.
4) Cyclists in the sprint group were heavier (76.2 ± 7.4 vs. 70.0 ± 4.7 kg, P<0.01) and stronger (258 ± 44.4 vs. 216 ± 30.5 Nm, P<0.01), and had larger chest (98.2 ± 6.2 vs. 92.4 ± 2.9 cm, P<0.01), arm (33.0±2.2 vs. 30.7± 1.6 cm, P<0.01), thigh (57.5 ± 3.4 vs. 54.3 ± 2.5 cm, P<0.01) and calf girths (37.8±1.7 vs. 36.2±1.9 cm, P<0.05) than cyclists in the endurance group.
5) They were also more mesomorphic (5.3 ± 0.7 vs. 4.7 ± 0.8, P<0.05) and less ectomorphic (2.3 ± 0.9 vs. 2.9±0.6, P<0.05) than the endurance cyclists.
Now the methodologies of this study were pretty solid. And I’m sure track cycling coaches can attest to the application of these anthropometrics in actual practice. But what’s mesomorphic? ectomorphic? What’s the implication?
Here’s the gist of those descriptions as described by Professor William Sheldon:
- Definitive “Hard Gainer”
- Delicate Built Body
- Flat Chest
- Lightly Muscled
- Small Shouldered
- Takes Longer to Gain Muscle
- Hard Body
- Hourglass Shaped (Female)
- Rectangular Shaped (Male)
- Mature Muscle Mass
- Muscular Body
- Excellent Posture
- Gains Muscle Easily
- Gains Fat More Easily Than Ectomorphs
- Thick Skin