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Cycling Drills For Improved Pedalling Technique

Updated on August 24, 2012
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Liam Hallam is a sports science graduate. He is also a keen cyclist and lover of the Derbyshire Dales and Peak District.

An improved pedaling technique can lead to better race performance
An improved pedaling technique can lead to better race performance | Source

Bike drills to improve your pedalling efficiency

Look around any group ride or spinning class and you’ll be able to spot a huge amount of variation in cycling pedalling technique. It’s hard to believe that something seemingly so simple as a circular bicycling pedalling motion is actually a rather complex action.

Your pedalling technique is related to your efficiency on a bicycle. The more fluid your technique-the less energy you waste every time you turn the cranks. If you have an inefficient pedal stroke, you could be wasting valuable cycling power which could be used to ride faster, help catch that breakaway or even win that sprint.

Below are a selection of cycling drills to help you improve your pedalling technique. They can be applied to indoor bike trainer workouts, spinning workouts or even when riding out in the fresh air.

Spin up drills for cycling

On a turbo trainer or set of cycling rollers in a moderate gear gradually increase your cadence to your maximum possible over the course of a minute. Your maximum should be smooth and not involve a bouncing action

Recover for a couple of minute and repeat 5 times in total to improve your pedal stroke control and fluidity for greater efficiency of movement.

Advanced spin ups

You can add additional challenge to this training drill by maintaining your maximum cadence for a period of time at the end of the drill for 15 seconds initially. Extending out to 30 seconds over time.

Single leg bike drills- isolating your weaknesses

By isolating one side of your pedalling action you will be able to notice some of the weaknesses within your pedal stroke in terms of feeling and muscle actions. These are best performed on an indoor bike trainer and with stable conditions on a flat road. You can also perform these by ‘de-sensitizing’ your now working leg while riding.

Improve your efficiency with single leg drills

Use bike drills on the turbo trainer or open road to improve your pedalling effiency. Consider using single leg drills with one leg 'along for the ride' while the other takes control
Use bike drills on the turbo trainer or open road to improve your pedalling effiency. Consider using single leg drills with one leg 'along for the ride' while the other takes control | Source

How to perform single leg bike drills

Unclip one foot from your clipless pedals and rest that foot on your trainer or on a stool which is out of the way of your cranks. Using an easy gear pedal with the clipped in foot through your pedal stroke continuously. Aim for a cadence of around 80-100 rpm. Initially you’ll find you have more control over the action with a slightly lower than normal pedalling cadence.

Start with short periods of 5-10 seconds per leg with easy two legged pedalling between.You’ll likely notice that your hip-flexors fatigue fairly quickly. This bike drill will work as a great workout to improve hip flexor strength for cycling. After a few single leg drills you will actually notice more regarding your regular pedal stroke.You will feel you have more control and become aware of the weak spots in your technique.

When to perform single leg drills?

Single leg bike drills are best performed out of race season. Particularly during base training sessions or on easier days as part of build mesocycle training sessions

Do you have any cycling training drills you would recommend

We're always looking for feedback here on hubpages

  • Did these cycling workouts help your pedaling technque?
  • Do you have any suggestions how others can improve their cycling?

We would love to hear from you.

Good luck with your workouts



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    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      6 years ago from California

      Excellent ideas. For the less fit cyclist correct peddling makes the whole ride more enjoyable. Getting back into the saddle after a rugged summer, I was enjoying the longest ride I have been on since May. (21miles) I noticed near the end my knee was beginning to hurt. Noticed I had gotten lazy, my strokes were bottoming out because I was only down stroking, added upstrokes and the knee was good as new for the last couple of miles.

      Enjoy your writing.


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