Wearing a hydration pack changed muscle recruitment during a gravel race?

I usually hydrate with bottles and I can manage them on the trainer, road group rides, and solo gravel rides.

But in gravel races, I find that I don’t drink enough when I am on someone’s wheel under sketchy gravel conditions.

So this past race I wore a hydration pack. I hydrated much better, but I also felt a lot of unusual strain in the muscles that go between my glutes and lower back. It was very windy so I had a bent elbow aero position on the tops.

But regardless, that hydration pack and aero position completely changed the muscle groups that were working (or at least complaining) vs my training muscles.

Should I be training with a hydration pack if I am going to race with one?

@jvbailey88 Hi I would train with one at least 50% of the time. What brand and model of pack are you using?

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  • Don’t negate this aspect. How often do you train in this very low position?

  • Personally, I’d bet your body position change made more of an issue for you than the pack itself. This low position can add notable strain to our low back, glutes and hammy’s. If you are not practicing this position under similar power load, it is worth adding as part of your training.

  • I see this as a 2-part issue and practicing with both (pack & position) combined are essential, not just the pack alone.

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Thanks. It’s a Thule Vital hydration pack. Perhaps it sits too high.

I do train in this position about 10% of the time, but I should make it more since I think it is a more aerodynamic position. I have been working on my core and tricep strength to maintain this position. But I have neglected to train in that position at race power. I also have not trained in that position with the hydration pack. So yeah, I should probably do both of those things. Thanks!

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In mtb, gravel and motocross (hard enduro) I have had great success with all of my athletes using USWE hydration packs.

I have no relationship with them at all, just excellent packs. You should check them out.