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#2737 - 08/19/02 09:56 PM Master Yoda's Riding Position
rdfrantz Offline
Master Yoda
Member

Registered: 08/27/00
Posts: 4403
Loc: Carlsbad,, CA USA
"Dick Frantz' Riding Position" gets referred to a lot on several forums of the BMWRT.COM Discussion Board. It turns out that when its PRICIPLES are applied to create certain kinds of body part relationships that it applies to almost all motorcycles. I view that as a "Perspective" to share, and my words as direction toward things to look at, and seeing, to learn what might make things better for you all.

So, I thought I'd write up a "short version" of it, and SAVE it somewhere. In the next few days, I'll build it into a comprehensive Article that can be referred to anytime -- and hopefully we'll get recourses to build us a FAQ particularly for those unfamiliar with the K1200RS, and place it there with the many, many things we've all found out about the K1200RS.


First, the K1200RS is NOT a Sport Bike. It is a Sport Tourer, and has characteristics that make it very strong at that task or that kind of riding. That also makes it LOOK LIKE a Sport Bike, and also DO THINGS that are considered strong points of Sport Bikes. From my perspective, the KRS is not better than "good" at being a Sport Bike, except that it rises to "very good" or even to "exceptional" at things like Linear Response; Handling Uneven Road Surfaces; Stability in All Cornering Modes; Stability Leaving Corners; and Braking. It also does All Day Sporty Riding at an elevated level, something that MASTER YODA expects from Sport Bikes (and is absent in the current Race Replicas that are CALLED Sport Bikes).

The "All Day Comfort Thing", is REQUIRED of a Sport Tourer. When someone finds that absent in the K1200RS, I question how they are operating it. True, individual physiology, our frigging size(S), and any deficiencies (I have two VERY injured knees), can effect how ANY riding configuration is responded to, and then thought about. But, I consider that any fairly healthy person who falls within perhaps the 95th percentile of sizes can be, or BECOME comfortable riding the bike. Why? IT WAS BUILT TO PROVIDE THAT.


You sit ON TOP OF a Sport Bike. You sit WITHIN a K1200RS.

Sport Bikes REQUIRE getting weight OFF YOUR BUTT so the rider can slide his/her butt inside corners to effect a different CG. CONSEQUENTLY, Sport Bikes INDUCE "weight on the handle bars".

Someone sitting on a K1200RS will note some ergonomic differences, and FALL TOWARD, positioning their body AS IF they were riding a Sport Bike. DUMB!!!! Well, not so much dumb as UNINFORMED. They've PREJUDICED, rather than EXAMINED.

They probably also CARRY FORWARD certain muscle memories DEVELOPED, NOT BORN WITH, from riding other conveyances, SOME of which can have been motorcycles. ARM CHAIRS come to mind In short, people have LEARNED... TO SIT UPRIGHT. It is NOT in fact a FUNCTION for which the human body was designed ---- AND continued practice CAUSES DAMAGE.

AUTOMOBILES PROMULGATE THE SEATED POSTION. Only lately have they applied several things like Lumbar Support to keep that position from KILLING the user. Oh... forgive my hyperbole, but SITTING UP just is NOT good for you.

MOST motorcycles CONTINUE THE PROMUGATION. To one degree or another, they emulate "Sit Upright" (So much so that the term UJM, Universal Japanese Motorcycle, was partially defined by a riding position called "Sit Up and BEG", like a puppy.). This position became A MENTAL NORM. We THINK that's "how a motorcycle is ridden" -- HUGE numbers of us. Well, the important thing to remember is YOU LEARNED to do it that way (Remember how you BECAME ABLE to ride for longer and longer periods?): You can LEARN "something else".


The largest, developed, muscle memory is the angle between torso and thighs. This is controlled by the LARGEST muscles involved in riding. We set that PATTERN, not an "exactness" very early in American life by our caregivers "Sitting Us in Chairs". Note that SOUTHEAST ASIAN PEOPLES go about TEACHING their kids to SQUAT, and that brings on an ENTIRELY DIFFERNT THIGH/TORSO relationship. In fact, that posture is MUCH MORE COMMON ACROSS ALL OF ASIA. Anybody care to guess where JAPAN is located? People sitting on tatami mats, or with feet and legs folded beneath their butt -- and THUS, torsos leaned forward? Hmmmmm.

Anyway, some things can be difficult to overcome for some folks --- WHEN they have become HABITS rather than cognizant, controlled RESPONSES. A great example is about leaning motorcycles in corners. The human develops a sense of danger when leaning any farther than they can do so when STANDING UP. HUGE danger signals are sent when lean angle extends much beyond the angle the neck can be bent AND STILL KEEP THE EYES LEVEL (20 to 30 degrees). It's OUR Response to BODY SIGNALS I'm referring to that can make up our "sense" of our comfort levels. Those things can CHANGE --- WHEN WE CONTROLTHEM, rather than the other way round.

The K1200RS calls for, was DESIGNED TO PROMOTE a CANTED FORWARD RIDING POSITION. Yes, very much, this was done on purpose by BMW. They knew it was REQUIRED to get the K1200RS performing to the desired levels, AND, very much, KEEP the rider COMFORTABLE for LONG PERIODS OF TIME, in the regimes where the bike was intended to be most often used (i.e. NOT riding on city streets). It all starts with a LOW SEATING POSITION -- NOT high, like a Sport Bike.

BMW then set out to DISCOVER, "what else" needed to be done to: 1) ADD comfort to this position (Provide a supporting airflow); 2) SUPPORT the position (Move the pegs downward, but still allow GOOD clearance when cornering to SPORT TOURING levels); 3) Reduce effort to maintain the position (Move them FORWARD to change the "Support Vector").

THIS REMOVES THE NEED TO PLACE ANY WEIGHT ON THE HANDLE BARS. Do so if you wish, but you'll pay the price in Comfort. AND, you'll find that you MAKE THE BIKE FEEL DULL AND UNRESPONSIVE, when compared to properly, YES, PROPERLY, distributing your weight about the bike. "Properly" is appropriate here in light of GAINING the Performance Qualities BMW BUILT INTO the bike. And, this should give some insight into WHY Motorcycle Magazines don't seem to find the riding qualities we owners do when they test the K1200RS: THEY ARE RIDING IT WRONG -- Differently than it was designed to BE RIDDEN.


The keynotes to "the" Riding Position are:
  • Bend at the HIPS, not waist
  • Maintain a SLIGHT arch to the back, not allowing it ever to "curve"
  • Move the butt AFT so the weight is OVER YOUR FEET.
  • Apply pressure to the feet, using the THIGH muscles, so you are sitting "lightly"
  • ELBOWS BENT, now DROP the hands to the bars.


One needs to move fore and aft on the seat to make ALL those things happen. Except for the Hip Bend, they are NOT Absolutes, but rather RANGES. Move about until you can see ALL of them are happening to some extent -- and NO weight is being placed on the handlebars.

Do this when the bike is STATIONARY. Sit on the stopped bike. TAKE TIME TO do this. PRACTICE. LEARN.

In fact, one must TEACH their own body. This is called TRAINING. You'll notice all GOOD training is done by ABSTRACT EXERCISES, not "just running off to the playing field and doing what you HEARD."

LEARN to press down with the feet. Then, when riding, CHECK that's what you are actually doing. You SHOULD be able to lift your butt off the seat at a milisecond's notice: As when knowingly approaching a severe bump in the road.

LEARN to bend at the hips. Do it BOTH ways, and show YOURSELF that you CAN operate the body differently. BE WILLING to touch that frigging gas tank. SOME people are incredibly fearful of touching a gas tank -- It's almost laughable. WHO SAID you shouldn't touch the gas tank? (Afraid of scratches? Poo, poo. Get some clear tank protector.) Better to think "The gas tank is my FRIEND." It WILL be some day when you are six hundred miles into your ride and still two hundred miles from your destination. OR, while you are LEARNING to ride this bike and may be only an hour or so into your ride. Your body is NOT YET... TRAINED to operate that way.

FLOP YOUR ELBOWS. PROVE you have your weight supported, mostly by your feet, and by your butt. Do it while riding too. Even after 25,000 miles on an RS I STILL end up leaning onto the bars somewhat and need to readjust my position.


Many people will need to CHANGE the riding position they use for riding on the K1200RS. Understand one OPERATES their body to do virtually anything (except things like sleep, and even there...). Because "Sit Up" is so common in our lives, it can come to seem we are not OPERATING the body, even to "just sit". But, sit on a wooden stool for six hours and send me your impressions of what you encounter. ALL OF IT is something called WORK.

On bikes LIKE the K1200RS (Aprilia Falco and ZZ-R1200 come to mind) a MODERATE riding position is called for, but one that is still a CHANGE for some folks. What one must do, is FIRST Change One's Mind. Then, go about changing one's USE of one's body. Mind controls Body (In HEALTY people).

DO IT RIGHT. Take the time to sit on the stationary bike every day when you first get it (or go do a Test Ride). Flex, tighten, relax, and move about across a small but definite range of positions on the bike. Then, "get it right" and without moving, FLEX all your body muscles, in order, from the feet toward the hands and head. FEEL what that feels like when you relax each muscle, and are STILL holding the proper Riding Position. Close your eyes and FEEL IT. Not ALL the muscles are FULLY relaxed. You are USING some of them. How? How much? To do WHAT?

Then, when you've done that for all the body's muscles (even the ones you don't THINK you are using), Flex them ALL, and relax and FEEL IT OVER ALL. Even go so far as to "stand back 10 feet and look at yourself" if you can. Feel and See.

Now, in your ride, attempt to maintain THAT position (with appropriate changes to handle riding circumstances) for as long in your ride as you can. When you tire, STOP. Get off the bike and bend, stretch, and flex all your muscles. WALK until your walking feels normal. Then get back on the bike IN THE PROPER POSTION THAT YOU CHECKED BEFORE RIDING OFF, and repeat. You'll find you ride longer and longer, and comfort GROWS AND GROWS. Eventually, IT WILL SEEM NORMAL.

One note is that if you notice "being tense", either some "bulk of muscles are being tight", or that you have "a pain" or "a tight cord" or some other sharp discomfort, do stop. You are COMPENSATING for something that has ALREADY become tired. You should have stopped sooner, and you need to develop THAT muscle that you tired out. Right then, it will be had to find that muscle, so NEXT time you start riding, do a better job before riding off of FINDING what muscles you really need to use to hold that positions (like you hold ANY position). Then ride in perhaps a less intense environment so you can PAY ATTENTION to shifts in your muscles use, and PARTICULARLY, Elbow Flopping, Butt Lifting, and Neck Twisting. I promise, if you are doing this CORRECTLY, pains should disappear, and NOT be present. But note, that even MASTER YODA gets tired, his MUSCLES get tired during a 14 hour riding day... and sometimes a SIX hour riding day.

USE YOUR THIGH MUSCLES. They are the most powerful in your body. And, they tire less and less quickly. Place your body weight so THEY can be doing the work. Even with bad knees and a bad back, I can ride this lovely performing machine from sunset to long past sunrise. And, many guys can ride longer than I do. Dammit.


Blessings to you all.

rdf


_________________________
Dick Frantz
SoCal

Nonviolent Communication: www.cnvc.org
Compassion, Regard, Understanding, Connection.

2005 VFR800(Sliver) "Little Silver"

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#2738 - 08/19/02 10:11 PM Re: Master Yoda's Riding Position [Re: rdfrantz]
SageRider Offline
Member

Registered: 01/16/02
Posts: 8287
Loc: Minden, Nevada
As usual, a fascinating, interesting, and informative article.
Thank you!
_________________________
Michael
2010 Unrally IX Sierra Adventures Co-Chair
KE6GYC 2M/440
'12 F800-GS Trophy: (dearly departed)
'06 R1200-RT, Piedmont RED! (dearly departed)
'99 R1100-RT (dearly departed)
Minden, Nevada

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#2739 - 08/20/02 06:38 AM Re: Master Yoda's Riding Position [Re: rdfrantz]
BWS Offline
Member

Registered: 11/22/01
Posts: 166
Loc: Va Mnts.
Its been awhile Dick,howya doin?I agree with your assesment.Living in extreme twistys and learning the "old fashioned way"(figuring it out for myself)I only have a cple of thoughts to add.Your idea about leaning a M/C over
is righton.This is one of the 12s strongpoints,how comfortable a rider is at extreme lean angles.Have had many discussions,usually ending up heated,with squidly remarks,or take it to the track responses.But the amt. of control and ease that the K handles corners has to be experienced.I have 36k on my '00,95% of which has been in twistys.Think about it,my K has spent practically its entire existance at some sort of lean angle.Building strong thigh muscles will reward you with a much more pleasant,safer ride.Upper body development,may not be quite as important but will/can get you out of trouble.Cold tyres,gravel,slow speed handling all can make for little oops,upper body strength seems to help.Personally,I "ride the tank",and have the scuffs on paint to prove it.But as you said getting into instead of onto K is correct.I tend to scoot foward wedging privates into tank while using feet to apply a little back pressure on pegs.This frees up torso,to better handle other minor issues.It also locks in your "offside" during corners allowing you to pickup inside foot,reposition,then wieght peg as much or as little as required.Relaxing elbows cannot be STRESSED enough,and further,say when viewing your posture from the side while riding.The angle that your forearms present should be worked on.Basically they should be flat,but setting up for a braking maneuver they should angle slightly down,towards bars,but still bent at elbow.Keep practicing this till it becomes second nature.Try holding on with inner thighs during panick braking to take stress off arms and upper body.Later Brian

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#2740 - 08/20/02 10:20 AM Re: Master Yoda's Riding Position [Re: rdfrantz]
Mjames Offline
Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 4447
Loc: NYC/CT
In reply to:

The largest, developed, muscle memory is the angle between torso and thighs... We set that PATTERN, not an "exactness" very early in American life by our caregivers "Sitting Us in Chairs". Note that SOUTHEAST ASIAN PEOPLES go about TEACHING their kids to SQUAT, and that brings on an ENTIRELY DIFFERNT THIGH/TORSO relationship.



As a student of the Alexander Technique, Alexander teaches at length on this very issue. It's not just Asian's who "sit" correctly but just look at any young child. Young children naturally bend where the torso meets the thighs Ė the hip joint. Young children always bend at the JOINTS. Never inbetween. Children naturally adopt the squat, or sit in a "perch" position. You will never see them bending or hunched over at the waist. This happens LATER. Usually when they start school and start sitting in chairs that donít fit and are badly designed.

On a whole Asians sit much better than we do, as well as the so called "primitive" cultures such as the Australian Aborigines or tribal Africa. Itís not so much that these people are taught to squat as children, as it is they are NOT taught not to. Thatís really what Alexander Technique is all about. Itís not so much a "learning" process but an "unlearning" process of bad habits.

This unlearning takes place throught a series of lessons using a mechanism called "inhibition" combined with conscious "direction." The idea is to eventually brings our body back to where we started. And as the body returns to a more natural state, the mind remarkably follows.

If you adopt Master Yodaís instructions, you will be in a more natural riding position. But any "child" could have told you that.




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#2741 - 08/20/02 11:25 AM Re: Master Yoda's Riding Position [Re: Mjames]
rdfrantz Offline
Master Yoda
Member

Registered: 08/27/00
Posts: 4403
Loc: Carlsbad,, CA USA
James, you are so very correct.

I didn't want to get into that, already needing to redirect attention from the main subject a few times to make some points. AND, I didn't believe I could express it NEARLY as well as you have. In my heart I simply feel the Buddha said, "Do what comes naturally."

When I teach riding, or particularly Shooting to children, especially girls who don't tend to develop strong ego, "ME can FORCE it" thoughts more common to boys, they "Just Do It", and so wonderfully well. They operate their bodies like little ballerina angels, and that is JUST what's needed in Shooting -- And very much anathematical to boys. Boys have had to STRAIN to surpass their current muscle development to excel. In so doing they flex their body (back) between the joints. They "round" their shoulders. They lock their shoulders, AND ELBOWS, so they can apply force with larger muscles in actions like throwing. When a SUPPLE sport like Golf comes along for adults, we spend sometimes HUNDREDS of hours getting them to undo that LOCKED "posture", and the sense of FORCE application, and again operate naturally --- like KIDS.

It might be VERY helpful if you could POST some information about The Alexander Technique -- along with links or references to it. It might save many folks a lot of time "Getting Back to Nature". Would you please?


You point out the heart method of my Instruction Technique. I now apply it to all the venues I teach or coach in:
  • Do it THIS way. (Usually manipulating them into a position)
  • What did you EXPERIENCE?
  • What was the RESULT?
  • How did that FEEL? (Mostly BODY, but other conceptions are appropriate too - especially to Mastery.)
  • OK. Set up CORRECTLY again.
  • Good. Repeat.


What's most important in this is THEIR Experience.

Some people are thought to learn "better" (more quickly?) from Visual media, others Audible. But everyone finally forms THEIR OWN CONCEPTION of what they do to succeed. Starting there makes considerable sense. And, with older folks who have developed a pattern of, or need to, "figure it out" beforehand, it short circuits that process that can lead down so, so many "wrong" roads, confusing them, wasting their time, and bringing frustration. Really quickly they can "see" what it is that works. THEN, they can go about "describing it to themselves." HOW they describe it may not make ANY sense to you or me.

That also brings up the method's ability to overcome lack of, and mis-, understandings about Language and its Meanings. It even allows "silent" teaching, and is very effective with the deaf and blind (And at least SOMETIMES, even I am certain I'm one, the other, or both of those things).

The Mind WILL follow the body. When the Mind, or one's other "faculties" might be a hindrance, it is good to LEAD with the body. The important thing is to Develop Conception, for always, in ACTION, it is the Mind which Leads the Body. Once an IMAGE, and the clearer the better, can be developed, the person now has the chance to turn that into Reality. However THEY think they do that.

And, remember that Image, and the highly touted "Envision", is more than just visual. Our mental images can contain all our perceptions, and many of those are more important than simply what it looks like. How it FEELS is very important to dynamic motion activities -- like Motorcycling.


Becoming familiar with the techniques, and the principles, within the Alexander Technique can provide a basis to make learning Physical Actions much easier for all of us.

MTFBWY

_________________________
Dick Frantz
SoCal

Nonviolent Communication: www.cnvc.org
Compassion, Regard, Understanding, Connection.

2005 VFR800(Sliver) "Little Silver"

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#2742 - 08/20/02 12:30 PM Re: Master Yoda's Riding Position [Re: rdfrantz]
Mjames Offline
Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 4447
Loc: NYC/CT
In reply to:

It might be VERY helpful if you could POST some information about The Alexander Technique -- along with links or references to it.




Someone once said that if you can't explain something in twenty-five words or less, then it isn't worth knowing. Well, the Alexander Technique is a big exception to this, as it works on so many different levels. I'll post some links later, but since it is "experience" oriented, you can only get so much from reading about it.


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#2743 - 08/20/02 01:20 PM Re: Master Yoda's Riding Position [Re: rdfrantz]
ghan Offline
Member

Registered: 02/17/02
Posts: 576
Loc: Vacaville, CA
Good write up Dick, seems I found this site and your exceptionally fine explanaitions on proper riding position after I discovered them for myself through trial and error and letting the bike tell me how it should be ridden. One question though, you said "Maintain a SLIGHT arch to the back, not allowing it ever to "curve"

Particularly what part of the back are you referring to as the back has 3 distinct parts with 2 different curvatures. Specifically cervical - lordotic curve, thoracic - kyphotic curve, lumbar - lordotic curve. The natural slight lordotic curvature of the lumber spine can get straightened out or even become a slight kyphosis when leaning forward if you lean incorrectly and bend at the waist and not bend as you describe at the hips. I guess my question is what do you differentiate by "arch" and "curve" and what part of the spine? I assumed you were referring to the lumbar region.

Again, good write up and keeps the words of wisdom coming.
_________________________
Gary in Vacaville, CA
'14 R1200GSW
'06 WR250F

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#2744 - 08/20/02 02:21 PM Re: Master Yoda's Riding Position [Re: rdfrantz]
Mjames Offline
Member

Registered: 01/22/02
Posts: 4447
Loc: NYC/CT
In reply to:

It might be VERY helpful if you could POST some information about The Alexander Technique -- along with links or references to it.



Just posted in "Ride Well" Forum.

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#2745 - 08/20/02 03:37 PM Re: Master Yoda's Riding Position [Re: rdfrantz]
RXGOLF Offline
Member

Registered: 02/24/02
Posts: 206
Loc: Joplin,Mo.,USA
Great points!! I just printed them all out. I am lucky in that I can be taught to do most things quickly. However, this is the insight I needed in order to change a very good ride into great ones. It is much easier to copy a sucessful idea, than to explore all of the right and wrong ways on your own.



Sincerely Thanks!!

Greg


_________________________
Joplin, Mo. U.S.A. 02 Black KRS "Doo Run Run"

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#2746 - 08/20/02 06:38 PM Re: Master Yoda's Riding Position [Re: ghan]
rdfrantz Offline
Master Yoda
Member

Registered: 08/27/00
Posts: 4403
Loc: Carlsbad,, CA USA
Oh CRAP!! We WOULD have to have a Thoracic Specialist on board!!

So... Back Arch:

Sit in chair;
Use hands on knees as support;
Bend forward until chest touches or comes closest to knees;
Straighten back;
Remove hands as support;
Lift head up as far as possible, and look forward;
Bring shoulders back as far as possible
Raise torso 3/4 to upright.

99% of folks now have a "slightly arched back". There should be a distinct but mild tightness in the lower back, or lumbar region. The "thoracic" area (That's the area you can feel "between your shoulders") is what I conceive to be "neutral" having its normal bend.

This is a "good" posture for the lumbar region, the area where the majority of back suffering is encountered, especially by Riders. The ERECTION of the back is being conducted by a CONTINUOUS host of muscles from "butt" to "brain". This is EASY to feel and accomplish, and learn to maintain.

So... "Curve" is any bend forward that comes from NOT holding that "erecting tension".


This "erecting tension" also particularly provides support for that area between the shoulders. Some of us are somewhat weak or injured here (My T5 vertebra often pops out of place). Part of that problem comes from ROUNDING THE SHOULDERS FORWARD.

With bikes that do/SEEM/look like they have a "long reach to the bars", some of us are prompted to round our shoulders forward to help reach them. It's better to give away SOME elbow bend if really needed, rather than do that rounding which will later cause fatigue and pain. And, as well, in order to do that rounding, some of the "erection tension" must be given away... and things begin to go to Hades in a hand basket


One will find this "erection tension" is better not "practiced in a vacuum". It is SUPPORTED BY LEG MUSCLES... despite any mystery you may have as to why. Don't believe it? OK, try:

Sit with at least half your thighs overhanging the seat of a chair;
Achieve the "slightly arched back posture with the torso leaning forward about 45 degrees";
Now, lift both feet one inch off the floor.

Hmmmm.


This posture has a slightly, or radical, forward lean. The more lean, the more aft the butt must be placed behind the feet to produce BALANCE. Remember the LEGS provide the supporting power... THOUGH foot contact with the footpegs. One is balanced OVER the feet (Screw Rear-Sets. BMW built the K1200RS as a Sport Tourer, not a Sport Bike).

With greater forward leans, we encounter resistance from uh... er... the Middle of the body -- perhaps moreso for those of us who are fond of large quantities of malt beverages. Some find it easier to accomplish greater forward leans if the thighs are angled outward somewhat.

I teach an exercise to help strengthen what we use to support this Riding Posture that incorporates that slightly splayed leg position:

Standing, bend SLIGHTLY at the knees, and place hands on them to support your back;
Spread feet to just beyond shoulder width;
Point feet and thighs outward so a 30 to 45 degree angle is achieved between them;
Straighten the back, and arch it backward slightly --- Hold that throughout;
Keeping the feet FLAT ON THE FLOOR, squat until thighs are parallel to the floor;
Hold that for 10 seconds;
Keeping the posture, raise the butt about 3 inches --- hold for three seconds;
Return to thighs level and hold for three seconds;
Repeat rise and fall 10 times.
End.

As one becomes accustomed to this exercise, one can hold the "raised" position for longer and longer periods. Eventually one can get so they can hold it for several minutes, but this doesn't do as much good as holding it for a few seconds and MOVING back an forth. The PURPOSE is not only to strengthen the muscles, but to IDENTIFY them, so you are certain THAT is what you are using when you mount the bike and ride off. So if you can hold it more than 10 seconds 10 times, increase the reps.

Very best wishes.

_________________________
Dick Frantz
SoCal

Nonviolent Communication: www.cnvc.org
Compassion, Regard, Understanding, Connection.

2005 VFR800(Sliver) "Little Silver"

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